A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Keven Moore: Father’s Day – a gift from my father as it related to cars and insurance

As Father’s Day approaches, I am reminded that some of the best gifts in life are those gifts that are not given, but are instead taught.

I also recognized several years ago that by the time a man realizes that his father was right, he usually has a son or daughter who thinks he is always wrong, which makes Father’s Day even that much more special.

I lost my father over 5 years ago and as time passes I am constantly reminded of many of the lessons that he had taught me.

One of the greatest life lessons that I ever received from my father came when he didn’t give me a new car on my 16th birthday and made me personally responsible for what I thought was an old antiquated 1974 Ford Mustang II. Regardless of how much I complained or felt deprived, it wasn’t going to change his mind, as he knew exactly what was probably going to happen.

His psychic abilities to predict the future was spot on as I did wreck that car a couple of years later and then another vehicle  a year after that.

When I look back on that life experience as a father with three grown adults, I realized that I learned everything I ever needed to know about responsibility and consequences in those days following his ever-so-wise decision.

Being the son of an FAA air traffic controller, I was 14 when my father graciously offered to match whatever I saved towards the purchase of my future car. But the money from my paper route and mowing jobs just didn’t seem to go very far after all those trips on my bike up to the Turfland Mall arcade to play pinball, Pac-man and Space Invaders.

So for a grand total of $1,200 we purchased the little sporty blue 1974 Ford Mustang II that had a rebuilt motor. He filled my first full tank of gas, paid my first quarterly insurance payment (liability only) and then said, “you are on your own from here on son.”

Looking back, I had no idea how strongly those words would resonate and the lessons I would later learn.

I didn’t let any grass grow under my feet. I quickly took a job at  McDonald’s the very same week and everything was going great until I graduated high school and took a delivery job with Domino’s Pizza.

It was then and there when it all started to go downhill.

For those of you that didn’t work for Domino’s Pizza back in the 1980’s, let me just say that you very quickly realize that the faster you work the more money you make, and that “30 minutes or free,” – well that was apocalyptic to management. As a result, my driving safety habits very quickly dissipated for the sake of profit.

It took several months for Lexington Metro Police to catch up to me, but when they did I became a target and within  one “4-week period” I received two reckless driving tickest and I was teetering  on losing my license.

After my second trip to traffic court within a month where the very same judge actually said “You again,” I realized then and there that I better take her advice and avoid trying to get to know her any better.

I paid off each of the fines, and like any industrious 18 year old,  I shrugged it off and accepted it as a cost of doing business. But I later learned the consequences of being labeled a high-risk driver, after my father dropped me from his insurance policy quicker than it took me to type out this sentence.

I was left to fend for myself as I searched the phone book for the state minimum coverage, with shady insurance agents who seem to relocate offices every other year. I distinctly remember dropping off one of my monthly insurance payment inside a dimly lit one-room office in a bad section of town.

Inside I found an older agent with a coffee-stained shirt, a metal fan running on his desk, a cigarette in one hand and bologna sandwich in the other, who took my payment as he was laughing to Archie Bunker reruns. As I left he waved his sandwich towards me with a mouthful of Bologna saying, ”I’ll see you next month.”

Like most college aged kids today, I also had a couple of small accidents and a couple of other dents to add to my distinguished driving record. As a safety/loss control consultant today, I am a little too embarrassed to give you all the details, but I can still remember seeing the look in my father’s eye as he shrugged his shoulders one morning after walking past one of my fresh dents and saying, “Oh well.”

I was left with the humility of driving around town in a wrecked vehicle that required me to tie down the hood with a wire.

The next and last life-changing lesson came a few months later, after I briefly left the University of Kentucky at age 20 to accept an opportunity to become a store manager for a budding company called Pizza Pronto a couple of blocks away from the University of Georgia campus in Athens, Georgia. After all, I had to feed the insurance machine as my premiums accounted for a large portion of my annual salary.

As my story goes, on a ride over to Atlanta to pick up my father at the airport, the wire holding my hood down came loose while I was driving 60mph down a two-lane highway. The hood flew back up bending around the top of my windshield blocking my view.

After nearly peeing my pants, the life-changing lesson didn’t occur by having another wreck, as I was able to safely steer myself off to the side of the road. It came with the embarrassing moment afterwards, as I had no other choice but to climb on top of my car and jump up and down on the hood to bend it back down in to place, as cars passed by.

As I was  doing the  Irish River Dance on top of my hood on the side of the road in the middle of Georgia,  I realized that my very own actions and unsafe behavior had been my own demise in my short four years as a young driver, and that things must change.

As I fast forward through life and now chuckle about it three decades later, I realize how powerful that this life lessons were to me.  It was my father’s decision to not run to my rescue every time I made a mistake, but to allow me to suffer through the consequences of my decisions, feeling the pain of every poor one I made.

My grandfather had taught my father this very lesson. It was taught to me, and I too have tried to teach it to my three adult children, as I have encouraged them to fend for themselves without coming to the rescue every single time they make a poor decision. My wife is a bit more nurturing and forgiving and between the two of us we did find a healthy compromise when it came to raising and teaching our kids.

Like most adults, my driving record improved and my insurance costs dropped to a manageable level. My kids didn’t get nice cars when they turned 16, and I didn’t pay for their car repairs when they wrecked their vehicles, but I did once help zip-tie my son’s front bumper back on after he too wrecked his car at the age of 18.

I am forever grateful for these lessons and as loving father I can now fully understand the meaning of the old saying, that I heard a hundred times from my father…. “this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you, son.”

Thanks, Dad. Love you! Happy Father’s Day.

Keven Moore works in risk management services and is an expert witness. He has a bachelor’s degree from University of Kentucky, a master’s from Eastern Kentucky University and 25-plus years of experience in the safety and insurance profession. He lives in Lexington with his family and works out of both the Lexington and Northern Kentucky offices. Keven can be reached at kmoore@roeding.com.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment