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Excellence: A Personal Exit Story



Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work

Aristotle

 

            My grandfather (Joseph Parker) was a driver of the most sensational kind, his style fast and flashy. We even called one of his cars the “Bat-mobile”. It was a long, brown, flat-backed Oldsmobile. This car had its own shifting signal and the clutch made a dropping sound when he entered the yard coming home from work. The “Bat-mobile” was road worthy in its own right. With this vehicle my grandfather made long and short haul trips— at times lending his driving services out to neighbors and other townspeople, taking them to visit sick relatives or run errands.

I had my trips with my grandfather in the Bat-mobile too. On one of the longer drives, from our southern Virginia town, he took the family to visit one of my aunts who lived close to the Washington D.C. area. This excursion required getting on Interstate-95 with its various exits to other towns along the way. Most importantly, there was lots of opportunity for my grandfather to drive fast on the wide open highway—this part he loved. As part of his unique fast driving inclination, he would overtake another vehicle on the interstate using the exit ramp instead of the passing lane. His timing was such that he could dodge and reenter the road and not miss a beat— braking and accelerating just right.  His other signature style was always having his left arm hanging out of the window, regardless of the weather. I never saw him with both hands on the wheel, but he used both feet to stop and go. This risky but accurate driving behavior also happened in close calls on bridges or wherever my grandfather saw a moment to just do what thrilled Joe Parker.

As a passenger I was not always happy, feeling scared on a few of those rides with my grandfather. I’d come home after a trip with him and tell my mother I wasn’t riding in the Bat-mobile with my grandfather again. But I really didn’t want to miss an outing and we always got back home just fine. In retrospect, I’m glad my grandfather could do that—skillfully and safely of course—not everyone could. He made that clear once he started riding with me and critiquing my driving moves!

We all have our own merits and distinctions. Whether it’s cooking, organizing, building, number-crunching, speaking, tinkering or singing; there’s a purpose for our skills in the world. Using our unique traits to blaze new trails can confirm and fortify our mission. We can also find ways to let those special gifts touch the lives of the people we live and work with.

Let’s ride on with our excellence in tow.


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