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Eric Petersen

 


Selling a car is easy... letting it go is the hard part.

Whenever my father would sell a car, any car, he would become overwrought with emotion. I remember the day when he sold one of our fellow Daltionians an almost dead Toyota Corona (yes there was one by that name). He stood in the lawn watching as it pulled out of the driveway and lingered there staring long after not only the car was out of sight, but the sound of the engine was no longer audible. I could swear to this day that he had a small tear in the corner of his eye. It seemed ridiculous to my 17 year old mind.

I must admit that I have inherited just a slight sliver of that sentimentality, but I have never had a car that I sold which held that high of a position in my heart… till now.

My wife and I have decided to sell my mother’s ’02 PT Cruiser. It’s got rust, and dust, and somewhere in the neighborhood of 180k on the odometer, but it was mom’s and parting with it is going to be rough, maybe a lot.

I remember well the day that it came home for the first time, shiny, tight and flawless. I had worked for the car dealership where they bought it as a salesman for several years and after having test driven the then brand new “segment buster” that Chrysler had named the PT Cruiser, I had recommended that they look at and seriously consider it, because it seemed the obvious choice for my mom & dad.

Even so, it came as a total shock to me that my father, a man known for taking months to decide on what others could do in days, had pulled the trigger on buying a brand new $25k car that the entire family agreed was the ideal fit for them. I also was in awe of how it was so high end as compared to the cars they’d chosen in the past with heated seats, keyless entry, a moon roof, and a CD player… whoa!

My mom sat a bit taller in the seat of that car when she finally mustered up the guts to drive it, and both of them fell deeply in love with it, not just from their pride of ownership they felt, but the satisfaction of knowing that they’d saved, and skimped, and worked for it, and it now was finally theirs.

It would be the last car that my mother would drive, in fact, I remember the day that she unknowingly ran a stop sign in our neighboring town of Factoryville in that car, and surrendered her driver’s license the next day, forever as a result.
I sold my car and took it as my own soon after. I would take mom to church and McDonalds, to Thanksgiving dinner with my cousin and to visit the doctor’s office, on Sunday afternoon drives to see the turning leaves, and it was to be the very car that I took her to the hospital in early May, for a brief stay to treat her 2nd bout of pneumonia… how could we have known that last ride of her life, that one, would be in her PT Cruiser.

In the years since, it’s been reliably carting me back and forth to work, and will soon be in the driveway of someone else, but I hope they look at it and see that in all paint chips, rust spots, carpet smudges and  signs of age, the deep history that is living there… for it is her’s.

As for me... I will undoubtedly stand with a small tear in my eye, and watch till mom’s PT Cruiser in long out of sight, and the sound of the engine is no longer audible.
 
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Locations : Factoryville


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She doesn't need glasses... but loves them anyway!

 Sometimes when a child finds something they like they not only take it with them everywhere, but they simply won’t live without it. Case in point: my wife Erika’s fashion glasses.

Shortly after we first met, my wife and were on a date, and as we were leaving the Viewmont Mall she spotted a pair of faker glasses that people use for a fashionable look and really nothing else.  The lenses are clear glass and serve no other purpose than to enhance your look and she bought 2 pair, one intended for me, and I reluctantly wore mine everywhere we went for the night’s duration. I later found out it was a dating test (ladies like to do that stuff) to see if I were fun enough to try her bespectacled experiment… I was, she was pleased.

Anyhow, years later they became a souvenir from our early dating life and wound up in a dresser drawer where our 6 year old daughter not only caught sight of them, she instantly fell in love with them. Piper now refuses to face the world without them resting on the bridge of her nose, for better or worse.

She wears them to school, she wears them to bed, she wears them to her grandparent’s house (that provoked several questions) and we’re pretty sure that she wore them during class picture day last week, meaning that the fashion glasses that were bought as a joke will now live in print, and pictures, forever.

Luckily she wears those silly spectacles well, very well in fact, and in the coming years that will only serve to make remembering her brief obsession with the Buddy Holly horn rims even more adorable.
 
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Shouldn't that be included?!!

When you spend thousands of dollars on something you expect a certain degree of items to be included in the purchase, but beware friends, today’s money won’t buy much!

A neighbor of mine recently purchased her first brand new car and parked it prominently (rightfully so) in the driveway. I, being a car-guy, strolled over to examine the new ride and give my neighbor my sincere congratulations on a milestone purchase.

We looked at the interior, under the hood, at the grill and taillights and eventually wound up in the trunk… that was where I stood in disbelief; the car had NO spare tire!

I have seen, and owned, several cars that had what’s called a “doughnut” or what my father called a temporary tire (a basic mini steel rim and smaller tire to match) as a spare, but never once seen a car, a new one at that,  sold without one at all. In fact all she had was a can of Fix-A-Flat to hopefully get her to safety in the event of a flat!

As walked home I began thinking about all the things that we buy these days that you’d, of course, expect come with obvious necessity type items, only to discover that they are considered add-ons, or optional equipment! WTH!!!

Think about these beauties:
*build a house- garage is optional,
*buy a car- floor mats not included,
*adopt a dog- pony up for the food bowl
Shouldn’t these be included, or is it just me expecting too much?!

What did you buy only to have to buy another item to make your purchase complete?!!! Talk amongst yourselves.  
 
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The Force Awakens... often when you don't expect it to.

We had made some family plans to go see the new Star Wars movie in the theater, when I began thinking that I had forgotten where the last sequential movie, Revenge of the Jedi had left off! So, since I had an Amazon gift card I hadn’t used yet, I decided to order the Star Wars Collection on Blu-ray, that way I could be properly prepared for Episode 7 and the rest of the family could attempt to grasp how cool it actually was.

My wife laughingly called me a nerd (I am) and dismissed my purchase as a slight waste of a great gift card… but our daughter Piper was not so put off, in fact she seemed curious about this sci-fi story that her dad was so pumped to watch with her. I figured that I would finally have the entire Star Wars saga in my possession, and if the girls liked it too, well that was bonus.

Several days later the set arrived and on what ended up to be the perfect day, because on this day, like any parent sometimes does, I needed something to distract our super-antsy 6 year old for a while and thought I’d give The Force a try. It worked…

I opted to start on episode IV “A New Hope”, it was after all the first ever film in the franchise, and I wanted her to see why all of us geeks fell in love with the world of Star Wars in the first place. She asked A LOT of questions and stared on awe at the light sabers, she began memorizing the characters names as well as the names of the planets, and soon thereafter found herself pretending to have Jedi powers… just like I had in 1977!

Ever since that first viewing we have soared on the Millennium Falcon, jousted with toy light sabers, brushed our pet Wookie: Chewbacca and all because our daughter loves a movie that’s nearly 40 years old!
The lesson: Show your kids what things you loved when you were their age- they won’t always love them, but when they do, it’s glorious!

May The Force Be With You!!!
 
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Yo dog, if you love me... please just let me sleep!

If I had to list one beef that have about owning our dog (I have many) it’s his Saturday morning ritual… he’s an early riser on the weekends!!!

As you may know I have a weekday alarm that goes off at 3am (with a second set for 3:15) so when Saturday arrives I have always tried to take just a bit more shut-eye time, but thanks to the emergence of an antsy, needy, and slightly neurotic, boxer/pit-bull mix named Endo, those days are seemingly over.

My wife firmly believes that “family life” demands a pet, or two, in the mix, and to spite my frequent and serious verbal opposition, her adoption of Mr. Endo into our brood happened secretly one day while I was working. Sneaky.

In full disclosure, he is a good dog… he doesn’t bark, he’s great with kids (except that he bowls over our neighbors 4 year old daughter in the yard daily), and he loves to cuddle, maybe a bit too much. Why can’t he just learn to let me sleep in?!!! Arg!

I suppose that now is where I have to admit that I’ve got it pretty good.
Why, you ask?

Well, I always see two faces when I wake up in the morning, and if you look at the picture attached here you get to see them for yourself… four eyes all saying “I love you very much”, and with scenery as beautiful as that, who could complain?

I only hope that Saturday mornings don’t get any much earlier.
 
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What's so wrong with "the old fashioned method"?!!

I mailed out my insurance payment yesterday, and as I was pressing the stamp onto the envelope there came a voice (from one of my co-workers) offering a dose of unearned ridicule for not using a computer to pay the bill instead of the USPS to deliver it. I was not surprised.

 For the last several years I have been dodging people’s questions about why I still pay for things with a check, or correspond at all through “snail mail”… to which I always say: “It’s just how I do things”. In reality I always wonder: what’s wrong with the old method?

Sure I’ve paid bills online and it’s been fine, but I have a better chance of keeping track of what’s paid and what’s not if I write a check.

In full disclosure if I were to go completely paperless I’d be not only lost in the haze of digital banking but no doubt have a credit score of 22 due to a lack of timely bill payments… I won’t run that risk.

I’m sure that there will eventually come a time when I’ll no longer have an option on sending some (or most) company’s their dues by a hand written bank document, but till then  I’ll be buying stamps, signing checks and keeping accounts payable employees employed…
the old fashioned way.
 
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Could you work with your spouse? -Me neither!

I met my wife at work around 5 years ago and shortly thereafter she left for greener pastures. It was great getting to know her here and seeing her randomly in the hallway, but would it still be that way if she’d stayed? What if I got a job working with her company now? Could the magic still exist or would it get "real old" fast?!!

Look, when you’re a married couple you have a never ending list of things to do and the work at home/ work at work balance it a delicate act to perform.

So, is it too much to think that two people can do it ALL together, or is it best to live separated lives during working hours? That's a good idea to ponder...

Working together is a risky thing when you’re married and it raises a series of complex questions:
Do we carpool together?
Do we eat lunch together?
Would you be suspicious of co-workers of the opposite sex talking to your spouse?
Could you handle working with your spouse?

My wife and I used to work together and may never again… and honestly, I think that’s just fine.
 
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It's my birthday and I'll care if I want to...

It’s my birthday Monday (May 4th) and I say: “So what”! I never really understood the people that made WAY too big of a deal over it being their birthday.

You know the ones, they post things on Facebook like: It’s my birthday week, or I’ve been counting down since last month  or sometimes, like a woman I know well, they even give their birthday day event a title like “The Month of Melody” (no kidding, she celebrated for a solid month)! WTH!

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my birthdays, and do feel like it’s a necessity to acknowledge a passing years’ time for the real achievement that it is, but com’on already!

If you spend a month in the celebration of your birth date coming and going, then how do you then celebrate other milestones… like the first sight of crow’s feet or a first grey hair, successfully grilling a first steak or the first time ever properly trimming the dogs toenails… should a first pumping of a perfect tank of gas get you a parade float named in your honor? No.

So then please, celebrate your ability to turn the calendar page of your birth as you wish,  but let’s all try to keep a perspective on just how big of an event it really is.

In closing I’ll admit that milestone birthdays are big ones (I'll be celebrating one next year) and I hope that they are recognized as such. So, if it’s going to be your 30th, 70th, or 100th birthday then have a PARTY maybe a two day festival… but if your 43rd birthday is looming, have a cake, that’ll be plenty.  
 
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With some luck you'll be boring someday too...

For the last several weeks I’ve been pondering a disturbing thought: Am I getting boring?

Laugh if you will but for a man like me this is a pressing issue. Am I becoming more refined as I age or am I careening toward being labeled predictable for my indulgences?

I have always been a man who could pride myself on being a stand-alone thinker when it comes to the things that I choose to surround my life with. I consistently opted for different stuff than what people would expect, and always steered clear of the crowd mentality when it came to almost anything… food, drink, music, cars, career choices… even relationships for me were unlike my NEPA peers!

Let me prove my point with some concrete examples: I have an unabashed of love Japanese food, you can easily win my heart with a perfect Southern Comfort Manhattan, I stop cold when I hear early ‘90’s country (and Dave Brubeck), a black 1979 Trans Am can literally make my knees weak, and I’m a radio DJ… dear God I even married a woman who’s from South Carolina (as opposed to a girl from the good ole NEPA)! All different choices from what the average person you’d see at the Viewmont Mall would have opted for!

But as of late I find myself becoming a bit more basic in my choices… am I losing my MOJO?

Maybe…

but I prefer the word streamlined to describe my thinking these days: The restaurants I frequent are few (but great), the clothes I wear are usually always black, I love a well shaken So-Co Manny (rocks please), I enjoy the back deck of our house as opposed to a bar stool, and I require only the curve of my wife’s smiling face to help me recover from a less than perfect week… you see simple, and kinda scary.

Yes, I may be getting what some would call a bit boring these days, but if there’s one perfect gift that time gives us it’s peace… and I feel it a little bit more every day.
 
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An Easter story of faith re-found... at dinner!!!

With Easter upon us, I thought I’d share a story of faith… re-found.

I’m not going to lie… I was always partially unplugged from our church. My parents were devout in their faith and weekly attendance to our chosen house of worship, but me, I was what you could easily describe as lack luster at best. I felt like it might be uncool to be as faithful as my parents were… and that’s where my latest life lesson was set into motion.

As a kid I started out strong in my weekly show of faith, mainly because my parents gave me no choice in the matter, but began to fade as the years went on, and eventually got to where I could count the dates that I’d been warming a pew in single digits… and that was based on a multi-year span of time.

Our church, like many scores of others, had a significantly older population and was typical for turning over a pastor every 4-5 years, it was discouraging. It also, being and old school Baptist church, was pretty strict on dress code (or maybe that was just my mom who made me put on my Sunday best) but a tie was suggested and so was a sport coat. Uncool.
Time passed, workloads got bigger and later into the night, and my interest in being religious went flatly numb. I found myself talking to God less and less, and for me attending church was a thing of the distant past.

Strangely I didn’t even notice the changes that were taking place in me since taking the cool guy exit ramp. I was not the same person anymore; I felt no shame for being an absentee to faith and prayer. I went from asking for strength and being thankful for simple blessings to wondering why I felt so lost and frequently alone… it should’ve been obvious to me that I had left the high road a long time prior, but it simply wasn’t… until a random Thursday evening family dinner.

Erika, Piper and I seldom eat as a family (something my parents did nightly) so when she suggested that we “dine at the table like normal families do”, I jumped at the chance. I cooked, she set the table and Piper helped me serve. We sat down, draped the napkins across our laps and prepared to dine… but as I reached for my fork my wife intercepted my hand, held it tight, then reached for Piper’s and bowed her head and began praying.  

I sat there speechless, listening as she spoke the words of thankfulness for our little family, and warm home, and the food that was on the plates. As she spoke I could feel the vibrations of her voice resonate in my hand; it was humbling. I peeked over to see a smiling 5 year old; unaware of exactly what was happening, but somehow knowing that she was feeling the peace of the moment and the powerful calm of grace.

I could feel my face flush in that moment of self judgement; I hadn't prayed in months. Right then I knew that I had drifted away from being a person of faith to being an unstable fool. I felt embarrassed that it had taken a simple act of being thankful to our creator for a weeknight meal that showed me how far I had fallen from my own spirituality.

I’m no saint, nor will I ever be, but I see now that I have some work to do. I may never be a consistent church goer, but I am sure that I do have to begin my journey back to a graceful life. Being cool included.
 
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