J.R. Reed learned a lot about his teenaged daughter by getting stranded in a broken down car in a grocery store parking lot.
My teenage daughter (whom I affectionately refer to as Drama Queen) and I had a date on Sunday. A hockey date.
Never before had she uttered the words, “What hockey game is on tomorrow?” Nor has she asked, “Can we watch the Kings game?” But on Saturday she said both.
That night, she slept at Grandma’s house. I picked her up at 11:00 Sunday so we could get back before the noon game. Of course when I got there she wasn’t ready, so 11:00 became more like 11:20, which meant we needed to hurry when we stopped at the grocery store on the way home. I was wearing my authentic 1990 LA Kings black with silver Marty McSorley jersey and got a couple head nods from people in the store. You know that nod… as if to say, “Right on.”
We grabbed some raspberry lemonade, chicken and pork chops then hopped in the car. Turning the key in the ignition, I heard the sound every driver cringes at.
“Click, click click,” went the engine. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.
C’mon, I told myself. Don’t get stressed. It’ll all be good.
The only things I know about cars are how to change the oil, add fluids, check the air filter and (until my 2009 Dodge) change the battery. I don’t know why they started putting batteries in odd places, but I can’t seem to get to mine now. I digress.
After a couple text messages from friends, I was told to bang on the spark plugs with something. I found one of those cheap all-in-one tools in the back of the car and proceeded to tap the spark plugs. Of course I got the same result, and after fifteen minutes my daughter started to get uncomfortable.
“If I can’t figure this out in the next fifteen or twenty minutes,” I told my daughter, “I’ll call and see if grandma can pick you up.”
“No,” she said. “It’s okay. I’d rather spend time with you.”
Hearing that made me happy—but I felt bad for her being stuck in this situation. “Are you sure?” I asked. We could be here a while.”
We had the same conversation 45 minutes later and again at an hour. Each time she repeated that she would rather stay in a grocery store parking lot with me than relax in comfort at Grandma’s house.
And so we listened to the game in the car. My brother came and we figured out how to get the car home, and we saw the last eight miserable minutes of the Kings’ loss on our TV.
It would have been cool to sit with my daughter and watch LA sweep their way into the Stanley Cup Finals, like the game I watched in 1993 that sent Gretzky & Co.
The bottom line? It may not sound like a lot but the fact that a teenage girl wanted to spend Sunday afternoon with her dad in a grocery store parking lot spoke volumes to me. I’ve been lacking in self-esteem lately and that gave me the shot I needed.
I love when life takes a crappy situation and puts a positive spin on it.
*After the game we recorded my podcast and she was my in-studio guest. When you’re done here, listen as we debate “To Glee or Not To Glee.”
Photo of Man Pushing a Car courtesy of Shutterstock