You might know that my dad and I didn’t get along. Yeah, that might be an understatement. You see, my dad was an ass. But I do remember a story or two that makes me laugh at the old man. And the story of the hubcap guy always makes me laugh.

But before I tell you about the hubcap… My dad collected things. Not just anything. Anything crap to be more specific. He had a garage that could hold three cars and still have some space left open. But he only parked one car in there. His Mercedes. Big old ship of a car. The 300D mid-80s diesel version – silver of course. More like a ship than a silver bullet. But he loved that old Merc of his.

But it was old style diesel. Not this fancy stuff you get today. You had to turn the key one way and let it “warm up” first. A little light will go on and then you turn the key the other way. And “boom” with a puff of diesel smoke the baby will start up. And you could see that petrol/diesel meter drop as you idle while you wait for the engine to warm up. That baby was heavy on fuel.

And that car stood in that garage. I had to wash it and polish it. But he hardly drove the thing. He had this clapped out Toyota Hilux. Another diesel. And it drove like a jackhammer. You felt every little piece of the road. Including that ant you just drove over. Oh he loved taking me for a ride in his “bakkie” (what we call a pickup truck in South Africa). I think it made him feel all farmer. He even bought it from a farmer. Of course it had to be a Hilux. Bloody hell, every guy who bought a bakkie that wanted to be “old school” had to have a Hilux. I drove a 1965 Beetle…

But back to his garage.

His bakkie was parked outside the garage because my dad collected crap. Loads of crap. Anything goes really. And it all had to go into the garage. He had it all. Old toilets he found on the rubbish dump. Tables he took from friends who sold their houses. Nuts and bolts and screws to fill a Home Depot store or two. And a physio table. Yeah. A physio table. I mean WTF? The closest he ever got to being a physio was stretching to put his socks on in the morning or tucking in his shirt. But it was a bargain. He found it in the local paper and bought it. Why? Hell, I asked him that many times. And his stock answer was, “You never know when you need one”. WTF? Can you think of a reason why you might just need a physio table and thanked god that you kept one in the garage “just in case”? He never did find a reason to use it. Apart from putting more crap on it that he got from somewhere else. I guess it was just fine for stacking boxes.

Anyway, this isn’t about his bakkie or his physio table. This is about another bit of crap he bought and how it came back to bite him. This happened many years ago. When my dad and myself were still talking. And still driving together once in a while.

He decided to spoil me and take me to town with his Merc. For a number one haircut I might add. So he parked and found one of the local homeless guys to look after his car while we ran off to the barber. I am sure the guy knew my dad because he was notorious for paying people peanuts. A 15% tip? Hell no. More like a 0.15% tip and an earful about the crap service. Dad, it’s the Spur, what do you expect? (Spur is a chain of restaurants in the line with Uno’s. No, more like a Uno’s with the service of a Denny’s.) So he flipped the guy 20 cents and off we went.

I had my haircut or hair slaughtered to put it mildly. I remember that the guy had shaking hands. Leaving my hair uniquely styled for school bullies to target. I had a few fights at school back then. Defending more than attacking! But I had my hair slaughtered and we were off to go jump in the Merc and go home. At least the drive back home was going to be better than the haircut. And then it happened. Someone made my dad an offer he couldn’t refuse. Offered him more crap to buy.

The guy that was meant to look after my dad’s car came walking towards us and aimed straight for my dad. My dad was pissed off that the guy wasn’t looking after his car after he paid him that “King’s ransom”. But the guy quickly got my dad’s attention when he mentioned something about having a “great deal” on some goods he just picked up. I wasn’t concentrating on the discussion as it was really embarrassing seeing his eyes go all bright with the idea of another “great deal”. He wasn’t even discussing whether he should buy it or not. He went straight into how much he was willing to pay for it. They went this way and that way and eventually settled on an amount. My dad feeling he got ripped off and the guy feeling he got ripped off. Always a sign that both are pretty happy with the deal. So my dad got his goodies and we were on our way back to the car. My dad still looked back at the guy walking the other direction and said, “Is my car okay? I paid you for that you know you lazy bugger.” The guy just kept on walking, waved his hand in the air and shouted, “Ja, ja. It’s okay”.

My dad was now in his element. He got another “great bargain”. I asked him, “What the hell are you going to do with that? You already have four so you don’t need two more do you?” He just gave me a “humpf” noise and shook his head at his stupid boy. What the hell do I know?

We got to the car and it hit me. I couldn’t help but burst out laughing. This was revenge. This was justice. There was my dad standing with this “great bargain” in his hands. Two hubcaps. And missing from the Merc?

Two hubcaps.

The hubcap guy just made my day. And taught me a lesson. You want to get what you want and the other person deserve? Just play on the weakness of the other guy and sell it back to him. Thank you hubcap guy. I would have paid you double what my dad did. And that would still be a “great bargain”.

My dad going shopping...

My dad going shopping...