Reaping Rewards

In my late twenties I was driving home from work one night and saw a “for sale” sign sticking to the window of a 1978 black Datsun (Nissan) 280Z parked at the gas station. For a week I passed that bugger and kept telling myself that the practical, paid for, hunk of junk I was driving was all the car I needed.

My curiosity got the best of me one day though and I pulled in and asked the price. The guy wanted $4,500 as the thing was in mint condition. I walked away but couldn’t get it out of my head. The following morning I emptied my bank account and offered him $3,900 cash, which he took after some consideration.

I drove it to my parent’s house and my dad was really happy that I had done something so nice for myself since I had always been so practical. “What are you going to with your old car?” he asked. “Well, I’ll still drive the old one most of the time; this thing will be for evenings and weekends.” He didn’t say anything, so I said, “Why?”

“Well it’s already ten years old and I can tell you love it,” he said, “Why don’t you just drive it? Let it be your car all the time, you know, part of who you are.” I did just that. And that car and I became as one.

I put over 100,000 miles on that car and changed oil and plugs religiously. I have so many photos in my albums with that little gem in the background it frightens me to think what memories I could have missed making if I had left her in the garage like I originally intended.

I sold her years later for $2,000 with almost 150,000 miles on it and I cried silently as I watched it pull out the driveway for the last time. And you ladies that are rolling their eyes, right now can go pound salt! If you don’t understand, it’s the same reason you don’t get The Three Stooges!

On December 27 I turned 45 years old. If I am very fortunate, my life is half over. I have seen the second half of many lives and have found that there are many opportunities to learn from the first half, although many don’t.

The little rewards I gave myself in the first 45 years are the things I relish as I reflect back and I plan to ferret out many more in the years to come and indulge them as fully as possible. Will the rest of the world understand? I really don’t care. Every person that once said, “You should preserve that nice car,” or “A watch like that should be saved for special occasions,” I have to thank. It is they who laid the foundation of these memories as my choices seemed to offend the norms of proper behavior. The more the masses protested, the more sure I became that I was on the right path. The path I chose, not the one that was chosen for me.

My wife and kids brought a cake to the table after dinner on the night of my birthday. They also brought a bottle of non-alcoholic champagne on a tray with a crystal wine glass for each of the seven of us.

It was Sheena, my second oldest daughter (and the one most like me) that set the tray up and was carrying it in. I saw the crystal glasses and began to chuckle (not wince) as she almost dumped the whole tray twice. It’s the finest stuff we own and I knew in any other house there would be parental screaming about this by now but my wife and I said nothing.

You see, those glasses have been sitting in a cabinet since we got married. They haven’t seen the light of day for ages. What are we saving them for? Well evidently Sheena thought my 45th birthday was the right occasion. Who am I to say she was wrong? I’ll always remember that 45th birthday celebration as those glasses clinked high in the air. What a great idea to use the good stuff.

To thine own self be true, my friends. The rewards will take care of themselves.

Ronald D. Ciancutti is the purchasing manager for Cleveland Metroparks. Ron can be reached at rdc@clevelandmetroparks.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Ron will be giving presentations on Purchasing, Ins & Outs, Tips & Tricks and Developing & Building Relationships in Your Community at LIVE! 06 at Deer Creek Resort & Conference Center, near Columbus, Ohio, Sept. 19-20.

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