To Give and Not to Count the Cost..

The family ventured down to Kiawah Island, South Carolina for our annual summer vacation. The car was packed and we made it down in record time (only drove 8 miles over the speed limit too…beware of the police in Richmond..they are as good as the parking ticket police in DC) and no speeding ticket for me. A few days into our fun in the sun vacation and our “check engine light” came on in our Toyota Sienna. Uggh. I had two choices: I could ignore it and gamble the 600 mile drive back home, or, I could listen to my better half (my wife that is) and get it checked out. I chose to check it out. Go figure.

I looked up a few places to take it and settled on a Firestone auto repair shop. The fella I spoke with one the phone could not have been nicer. So, I took it in the following morning as he suggested. It did not start out well as the gentleman behind the counter, a different fella, told me it would take all day just to look at it. “But the nice man I spoke to on the phone told me they could look at it first thing in the morning and it would only take an hour to check it out”. Thankfully someone stepped in and said they would call the other Firestone (about 2 miles away). Brandon said bring it right in and they will look at it. That was better.

I get over to the second Firestone and three people had come in in the 10 minutes it took me to get there. Brandon was going to make me wait, but…..he did something amazing. He took the nice button down shirt off his back, changed into his “mechanic’s shirt” (he literally went into a back room and changed), ran the diagnostics and then put the car up on the lift to look at it himself. It turns out it was a “moody” speed sensor. Not a major issue, but he checked all the sensors and made sure the wiring was intact. “This should give you piece of mind on your drive back home.” After about 60 minutes with the car on the lift Brandon finished his thorough inspection and analysis. He did put me at ease , but then he did something else amazing….

He did not charge me a penny for his time. “You are kidding me, right?”, I said to Brandon. “Nope, you are good”, he said. I thought to myself, “this is impossible!”, “where is the reality TV camera waiting for my reaction?”, “wow, southern hospitality does exist”. I left him “a little something” to take himself and his crew to lunch and I was on my way. Back to the beach to go boogie boarding with the kids and a car that would safely get us home.

Thanks to Brandon we did not worry one bit on our drive home. What Brandon did was extraordinarily simple and put our mind at ease. A true credit to his character. Maybe it is a sad commentary that I was amazed at such hospitality from the service industry, but I will take the “pearl” from this event. Brandon literally “gave” and did not count the cost. Where did you give and not count the cost today? St. Ignatius would be proud.

Summer Belongs…

It is no secret in my house that I am a BIG fan of the show Phineas and Ferb. These two brothers and their sister Candace redefine the term summer vacation in every episode. Complete with evil villain, Doctor Doofenschmirtz and secret agent hero, Perry the Platypus, the show knows how to keep its audience (it is one of the highest rated Disney cartoons in all of the age brackets). It is a witty, very well written commentary and fictional take on what kids can do in the summer.

Maddie drew the Flynn’s

(Not bad for a 7 year old)

The theme song to the show goes like this… “there’s 104 days of summer vacation and school comes along just to end it. The annual problem of our generation is finding a good way to spend it…” Who says that summer can’t be a time for fun and learning?

So, in the episode “Summer Belongs to You“, Phineas and Ferb build a plane called the Sunbeater 3000 “to make the longest day of the summer (the summer solstice) even longer by following the sun around the circumference of the earth”, stopping off in Tokyo, Paris and the Himalayas. Of course, their mom and dad are away for two days and their sister Candace, who is always trying to “bust” her brothers, is in charge of them. It is a fun watch

Summer has been a time to kick back and relax and give the mind a break, at least in schools that is the case. But, that seems to be a bit outdated. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good vacation like everyone else does, but does it have to come at the cost of learning loss?  Time magazine featured cover article on “The Case Against Summer Vacation” in a July 2010 issue. What I take from the article, and from previously working at a year round school, is that summer can and should be a time for kids to relax, but also expand their horizons through new learning ventures. It does not have to be the structure and rigor of the traditional school year. Rather it can be a great time to learn about science through robotics or cooking. It can be a great time to learn about sports through camps. Or, it can be a great time to learn about language and culture through studying a foreign language and traveling to experience the culture. Start a book club with your classmates to complete your summer reading lists. The examples go on and on and on. The point being, summer is a GREAT time to learn. Be creative with it.

I know most of you who are reading this are enjoying your summer break. Keep it up, as you should. But, take a peek at Phineas and Ferb. The Flynn boys might give you an idea or two. To quote Phineas “nothing is impossible if you believe you can do it”. Building a Sunbeater 3000 may not be physically possible yet, but learning something new this summer is not a bad idea.