Thursday, November 21, 2002

Picture this

Yesterday I did a dumb-sounding thing for my son, but it turned out okay. The kid is super-obsessed with cars -- not how they work, but what they look like, what brand they are, where they were purchased -- and when he found out that we had a workman coming over to look at a hole in our bathroom wall, he demanded that I take a picture of the man's truck. Usually he just asks me to make a note of the make and model and report back, but maybe my failures in this respect have made him move on to seeking photographic confirmation. Our whole walk to school, he was browbeating me: Promise to take the picture! With the guy standing next to the car! And a shot each for all four sides of the car! Do it!

He needed agreement or he'd go into school all disgruntled, so I said that if the guy was nice, I'd see if it was okay. And when it turned out that the workman was indeed nice, and talked about his kids, and seemed friendly, I kept my promise. And in truth, the man was happy to comply. "Nobody ever asks to take pictures of my truck!" he said with a smile, reminding me of the Mobile Intensive Care Unit paramedics who were similarly pleased when my son peppered them with questions about their vehicle. It turns out that taking an interest in what people do and what they drive isn't offensive after all.

The first thing my son asked me after school is whether I had taken the pictures, and I was so happy to be able to tell him that I had. They're taped up on the wall by his bed now, above the pictures of the minivan we had for our vacation this summer and next to the ones of the smashed-up car that was parked in front of the high school to remind kids not to drive drunk. He's full of questions about the tile-man's truck, and I think I'm going to have him write them down and mail them to the very helpful fellow who allowed himself to be photographed. I'll bet he gets some very nice answers back. Who knows, maybe one day he'll be a writer for "Car and Driver," and all of this will be good prep. He'll probably have a better photographer then, though.

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