OK, have you tried the reset button?
Saturday, June 15, 2013 8:00 PM
What does your dad mean to you?
There are likely many people across the Lakelands and the nation considering that question today, as it is, of course, Father's Day.
Father's Day is a bit different than Mother's Day, if only because of the way we celebrate it. Mother's Day is a reverent day, an occasion in which we put moms on a pedestal and give them flowers and cards and take them out to eat or prepare them a meal.
On Father's Day, we give Pops a new weed whacker. What a gift, right? Something he can use to perform manual labor.
I'm convinced wives made sure Father's Day was designated to take place in June so their husbands could receive "gifts" of new tools with which to perform various outdoor "honey do" tasks. As in, "Happy Father's Day, honey. Here's a new ladder you can use when you paint the shutters."
I should pause here to note all I asked for from my wife for Father's Day this year was tickets to go see the new Superman movie in IMAX. She graciously agreed, partly because she knows I love Superman, but mostly because she knows she DOESN'T want to see me with tools in my hands.
Seriously, I couldn't build a birdhouse. It's just not my thing.
Writing semi-amusing columns, filing Freedom of Information Act requests, playing referee between Index executive editor Richard Whiting and Greenwood County Councilman Robbie Templeton, trying to figure out how Partnership Alliance CEO Mark Warner names economic development projects (I'm waiting on him to name one Project I'm Just Not Telling You What This Business Is), these are the types of things I can handle.
But, building or fixing things? With tools and materials? No matter how much I try, I'm just not very good at it. Kind of like Tim Tebow throwing a football.
Thankfully - mercifully - when something breaks or needs building, I can always count on my dad to help me out.
THERE ARE FEW certainties in this life.
However, there is one thing I know to be absolutely certain: Every year - every single year - when the calendar turns to late fall and we have that first cold snap, that first night when temperatures dip down into the 30s, I will go to the thermostat in my hallway, flip the switch from "cool" to "heat" and ... nothing happens.
I mean, you can count on it. Book it, baby. If Las Vegas kept odds on things - such as "Will the furnace at Chris Trainor's house work on the first cold night of the fall?" - you would be wise to bet on the negative.
Now, keep in mind, whenever I turn on the heat for the first time in the fall and inevitably discover it isn't working, it's usually like 10 p.m. on a Sunday. At that point, I pull out my phone and call my dad.My dad literally can fix just about anything. He is a mix of Bob Vila, Tim "The Toolman" Taylor and MacGyver. Seriously, if you give him a few 2x4x8 studs, a bucket of screws, a nail gun, a gallon of primer, four sheets of sandpaper and an old Froot Loops cereal box, my dad could build you a nice two-bedroom townhouse.
So, when I call dad at 10 p.m. on a Sunday and tell him the furnace isn't working, he first tries to guide me, on the phone, through all of the basic problems that might be plaguing the unit.
Knowing I'm a newspaper columnist and not someone with, you know, any actual skills that might help a person get through life, he typically walks me through these simple steps in slow, easy-to-understand verbiage, kind of like how someone gives driving directions to a foreigner who can't speak English.
"First," dad will say, "open the little door on the thermostat."
"All right, I opened it," I'll reply.
"There should be a button that says 'reset.'"
"OK ... yes, I see the reset button."
"Push that button."
"OK ... I pushed it."
"Did the heater come on?"
After talking me through a few more rudimentary procedures, which inevitably don't work, dad will say, "OK, I'll be there in a few minutes." At that point, at 10 p.m. on a Sunday, he'll change out of his pajamas and into his work clothes, then make the 20-minute drive from his house in Abbeville to my place in Greenwood.
Now, to be clear, if it were just me, he would let my butt freeze for a night and come look at the furnace in the morning. But, he loves my wife, Christina, and my daughter, Charley, more than anything, so, for them, he is willing to go down to the basement late on a cold Sunday night and wrestle a furnace.
And, let me tell you, like the dad on "A Christmas Story," he's a fierce furnace fighter. I'll typically do my best to help him - someone has to hold the flashlight and fetch tools - and he'll try a little of this and a little of that and, before you know it, the heat is working just fine.
My dad does a hell of a lot more than just fix things for me. He's been a great dad and friend. We go to the movies together, argue sports, debate politics and discuss the news of the day. He's a sounding board for me when I need to blow off steam about work or when I have an idea. He loves talking about what's going on at the paper, hearing about the recent news stories from my perspective on the "inside."
And while I relish and cherish all of those other aspects of our relationship, I'm especially appreciative when he answers my call on the first cold autumn night.
Trainor is the senior staff writer at the Index-Journal. Contact him at 943-5650; email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter @IJCHRISTRAINOR. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.