As the Superintendent of Worthington Schools I am required to be a member of the Dublin-Worthington PM Rotary Club. Rotary International is a service driven organization and I’m honored to have the opportunity to participate. (Although, full disclosure while I think I’m old enough to be Superintendent of Schools, I can’t rectify in my own mind how I could possibly be old enough to be a Rotary member…)
As part of Rotary our club is scheduled to hold a storytellers event in honor of Father’s Day. At that event I will have the chance to speak about my dad. I’ve told many stories over the years about my dad’s commitment to our family and how he has always, always supported my sister and I. Those stories have been absolutely true. But, for this event I wanted to provide a different story about growing up with a father who was a Special Agent in the United States Secret Service.
My first real memory of my dad’s job was in Connie Ball’s fourth grade class at Worthington Hills Elementary. It was a career day and my dad had come to the class to talk about his job as a Special Agent with the United States Secret Service. He was dressed in his typical dark suit and starched white shirt. He wore a tan full length overcoat and aviator sunglasses. He looked exactly like he did walking along side of President Carter on Pennsylvania Avenue. Dad showed the class his badge, his gun, etc… He passed around real money, and samples of counterfeit money, and explained how to spot the difference. My classmates were into it and immediately and as a fourth grade boy I had some suburban street cred. “What’s your dad do? Is he a lawyer, a doctor, nope, he’s a Secret Service Agent.” That was pretty cool!
But, like everything else there are two sides to the coin. My dad was a Secret Service Agent and you just don’t turn that off. When I turned 16 years old and earned my driver’s license I was allowed to access our families Toyota Corona sedan. I would drive it to and from school and in those days all students at Worthington High School had “open lunch” and I would drive the Toyota to and from lunch. In the late 80’s there were no restrictions on young drivers like there are today and the only real rule we had in our family was that I could only take as many kids in the car as we had seatbelts and everyone needed to wear the seatbelt. In this car that meant that I could take four friends plus myself.
It was a cool fall day I and I was heading to lunch with Jeff Hooper, Scott Todd, Garrett Begeman and Chad Reynolds. They were the normal lunch crew. On this day a group of girls wanted to go with us to lunch. We didn’t exactly have space in the Toyota, but seriously, we weren’t going to say no to these girls, and so everyone piled in. Girls were sitting on laps, across the gear shift, etc.. I’d say there were nine or ten of us in the car and we headed out from Worthington High School and south on High Street to what is now Donatos but at the time was Kentucky Fried Chicken. We were young, there were girls going to lunch with us, all was right with the world!
But, it wasn’t….When I got home from school that afternoon my dad was home. That was odd. He just looked at me for what seemed like a full minute but what was likely 10 seconds and then he said to me “Trent, what did you do wrong today?” That was his question. Seriously, “what did you do wrong today?” Now, I wasn’t the smartest 16 year old but I was smart enough not to answer that question. There were a fair number of possible answers and I didn’t need to provide the wrong one. As I stood quietly my dad’s voice raised and he proceeded to tell me what I had done wrong….
“You had ten people in your car! People were not wearing seatbelts! Sir Mix-A-Lot was very loud coming from your radio! When you stopped at lunch the rear left window was not raised up and the front right door was not locked! What were you thinking?”
See my dad was a Secret Service Agent, but he wasn’t that good. Plus we lived in Worthington Hills not close to Worthington High School. As luck, bad luck, would have it somewhere driving south on High street with my full car I passed my dad who was also driving south on High street. What are the odds of that? I never noticed my dad, but he noticed me. He then followed my car, parked in the Playboy Club parking lot next to the KFC and took notes on our actions. Then he followed us back to Worthington High School, went home and waited for me to arrive. Yep, that really happened.
It was a long, long time before I was able to drive anywhere again.
That’s my dad. He sprung the trap. “What did you do wrong today?” But, he already knew the answer.
Happy Father’s Day dad!