The first time my truck wouldn't start a few weeks ago because I left the lights on and forgot to shut them off was embarrassing enough. The second time was one of those 'crawl under the desk and disappear' moments.
Two weeks ago my daughter Ashley's boyfriend and I stayed home to work on a small building project. It was Sunday morning, and my rule is go to Church. But I sometimes apply the ox is in the pit scripture from the Bible, and with Ashley's boyfriend available to help before going back to Purdue, I thought the ox was in the pit. We were trying to assemble what was supposedly a building kit. My daughter Kayla, the youngest, naturally, talked, aka conned, me into getting her a dairy steer for 4-H. The carrot for me was that if might be the first time in the 14 years we've had kids in 4-H where it was actually possible she might make a profit selling the animal at the fair!
Anyway I soon figured out we should have went to Church. After all, I wasn't setting a good example for Ashley's boyfriend, Garrett. It was sprinkling rain, sometimes rather heavily. We discovered the company had sent us the wrong size bolt for one job, and shorted us a board. So we headed to Lowe's. Lights went on because it was raining.
Thinking about wheat we needed we climbed out and went inside. Two guys in Lowe's isn't a quick trip. We were probably there the better part of an hour finding what we thought we needed. Ready to check out I sent Garrett to get the truck. He came back truckless - it was dead - I had left the lights on. Hmm, I didn't remember the dinger dinging, alerting me they were on.
Not wanting to be stuck there forever and figuring Church was about over, I phoned Carla on my cell. Naturally church wasn't over, she rushed out thinking we'd cut our fingers off, or worse, and was relieved, although still irritated, to find we just needed a jump. So she headed right over. Not surprisingly with an old truck, I carry jumper cables behind the seat.
Then a good Samaritan approached, and gave us a jump. Just as we unhooked the battery cables, Carla pulled in. I kid you not - I couldn't make this stuff up. Less than thrilled, we listened to our wifely, motherly lecture, then departed. Next Sunday I would be in Church no matter what.
Fast forward to last week. Purdue University and Dow AgroSciences announced a major partnership - Dow Agro is establishing a significant presence at the Purdue research park north of campus. I attended, driving the truck. It was cloudy when I left, so I turned the lights on.
This was just short of a black tie affair. President Cordova of Purdue was there, the new president of Dow AgroSciences global was there, the Indiana Secretary of Commerce, Dean of Ag Jay Akridge, Provost Randy Woodson, the mayor of Lafayette - a state representative - you get the picture.
After the event, I was one of the first to head out, ready to head to my next appointment. I jumped in the truck and switched on the key. Nothing. Sure enough I had left the lights on again. Man, I don't remember hearing that dinger telling 'em to shut them off.
Now what? Go in and say Hey, Dean Jay, buddy, can you give me a jump? Or how about, France (Cordova) want to give me a jump in the parking lot? Or maybe the head of Dow AgroScience wouldn't mind helping out a lowly journalist.
Discretion is the better part of valor indeed. So instead, I sought out some of my own, Purdue ag communications leader Beth Forbes, and key writer Steve Leer, both decked out in nice clothes. Forbes agreed to offer her car if Steve, in suit and tie, would do the honors. Fortunately, and probably to get rid of me, he agreed. After a couple of minutes, the old truck fired up. I thanked him and left quietly tailpipe tucked beneath my bumper.
Then it dawned on me - why wasn't that dinger working? As it turns out my brilliant son, Daniel, now serving as state FFA treasurer, and aeronautical engineering student Garrett decided when they took off the door to replace a hinge recently that those dingers were annoying. So they disconnected them. Naturally they didn't bother to tell me. So my embarrassment stemmed from two ding-dongs who unhooked the dinger.
They would tell the story somewhat differently. They don't deny unhooking the annoying dinger. But they would blame the outcome on the loose nut behind the wheel who suffers memory loss on first cloudy, then sunny days.
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