Monthly Archives: September 2013

Broke or Not?

Life lessons from Chubby (my dad) and other smart folks I’ve met on the road.

“Dad, it broke,” I cried.

“What broke?” asked Chubby.

Chubby Rule merchantability transistor radio

“My transistor radio. The one I just bought at the store,” I replied.

“What’s wrong? Doesn’t it play?” Dad asked.

“It plays fine,” I answered. “But not very loud. I turn it all the way up, but I can still barely hear.”

“Sounds like merchantability,” Chubby said.

“Merchantability?” I asked. “What’s that?”

Chubby Rule merchantability

“The Warranty of Merchantability,” Dad answered. “Greg, when you buy something from a store that normally sells what you bought, it has to work like you would reasonably expect.”

“But Dad,” I said with concern. “My radio was on sale with a sign that said ‘no returns’.”

“Doesn’t matter,” Chubby exclaimed. “This warranty can only be avoided if the merchant disclaims it in bold letters.”

“Really?” I asked. “Does that mean if most would expect my transistor radio to play louder than it does, the store has to fix it or take it back?”

“Exactly,” said Chubby.

“Wow,” I exclaimed. “Does that mean I can get a new radio?”

“Let me listen,” Dad asked. “I want to hear how loud it plays.”

I gave Dad my transistor radio. He held it close to his ear. I had the volume turned all the way up. Chubby turned on the switch.

What did I learn from Chubby that day?

Merchantability . . . and my idea of loud was different than his.
Sorry dad.

Dad Got Mad

Life lessons from Chubby (my dad) and other smart folks I’ve met on the road.

Casey, Me, Brian, Corey, Jason & Tanner ready to play

Casey, Me, Brian, Corey, Jason & Tanner ready to play

“Greg, STOP!” Chubby scolded.

“I can’t,” I replied. “I’m writing tomorrow’s Savvy Dad. I do one each day.”

“Greg, you forgot what I taught you 50 years ago,” Dad sternly said.

“What’s that?” I asked in a curious way.

“Moments!” Dad shouted. “Don’t blow big moments. Remember our special moments together?”

“I sure do,” I said as my mind wandered back to the day.

“Wish we could have a few back?” Dad wistfully said.

“Gosh, Dad,” I replied. I’d love that.”

“Greg, this is a very big moment. Your four boys just traveled ‘cross country to be with you on your birthday. Dive in. Don’t waste a second. You’ll look back and be glad.”

Dad was so right. My kids are all here. They came just to see me. Our Savvy Dad readers will understand.

The lesson I learned from Chubby today?

Big moment? Savor the day.

4 wheelin’ behind our Wyoming ranch with Brain, Corey and Casey

4 wheelin’ behind our Wyoming ranch with Brian, Corey and Casey

“We didn’t know we were making memories.
We just thought we were having fun.”

Sparklin’ Man

Life lessons from Chubby (my dad) and other smart folks I’ve met on the road.

It wasn’t the words. It was how they were said.

His eyes? Right in your face.

His handshake?  Electric.

He sparkled from morning to night.

Chubby Rule Spaklin' Man

I’d sit in his office and listen for hours on end. Each call, each meeting, every hello; he was the focus, the man in command.

One day I asked, “Dad, why are you so full of energy, like ‘really alive’?”

“Greg,” he said. “Stand up.”

And stand up I did.

For the next 30 minutes we practiced handshakes.

Chubby Rule Handshake

Big smiles. Hearty hellos. Grasp deep in the palm.

Look straight in the eyes. Shake from the elbow. Stiffen that arm.

Dad even showed me how to use my left hand to overlap his right. He said that projected warmth and personality.

That night at dinner, Dad asked what I learned.

“Well,” I answered. “How to shake hands.”

“Anything else?” Chubby inquired.

I didn’t know.

He paused; then brought it all home.

“Greg, people live like it’s a crime to stand out. Why?  To me, life is a choice. Cringe in the shade or shine bright in the room.”

What I did I learn from Chubby that day?

Be bold. Liven things up. Shine bright in the room.

The Problem with Lawyers

Life lessons from Chubby (my dad) and other smart folks I’ve met on the road.

“Why do you want to be a lawyer?” Chubby asked.

“Because they’re rich, smart, and people do what they say,” I shot back.

“How do you know lawyers are rich?” Dad continued.

“Cause you’re always complaining about how much they charge!” I answered.

“Fair enough,” Dad said with a smile.

“So how do you know lawyers are smart?”

“Cause you call ‘em when you’ve got a problem,” I replied.

“Greg, you’re thinkin’ pretty quick,” Dad said with a laugh.

“But what makes you think people should do what lawyers say?” he asked.

“Isn’t that why we call ‘em?” I replied. “To know what to do.” READ MORE 

Are You Really That Good?

Life lessons from Chubby (my dad) and other smart folks I’ve met on the road.

“Greg, you’re not really that good,” Chubby said.


“What do you mean?” I asked.

“You told me so,” Dad replied. “You just said it.”

“Not true!” I exclaimed. “Dad, you must have misheard.”

“No I didn’t,” Chubby said. “Greg, you just told me you were the best. That’s when I knew you weren’t.”

“What made you think that?” I pleaded.

“Because people who are don’t say it – they don’t have to.  People who aren’t say it all the time – they try to sell what they’re not,” Dad explained.


Salad Bar Germs

Life lessons from Chubby (my dad) and other smart folks I’ve met on the road.

1959. David’s Buffet, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Salad Bar

Me? An 11-year-old eating machine.

Picture the most awesome salad bar in the universe. We’re not talking salad (in the cucumbers and sprouts sense of the term).

Heavenly hash. Deviled eggs. Creamy potato salad. Rich melted cheese sauce (with a few strands of macaroni).

It was gastronomic sin . . . a calorie rich, stuff-your-face paradise for big boys like me.

I had just returned to the table, my plate fully filled. Mom, Dad and Linda (my sis) were all there.

Chubby looked up and asked, “Greg, where did you grab the ladles that stick out from each bowl?”


The Two Sentence Rule

Life lessons from Chubby (my dad) and other smart folks I’ve met on the road.

1960. Zipping along I-75. Just Chubby and me.

Chubby Rule The Two Sentence Rule

We had just left Cincinnati to vacation in Northern Michigan. Mom and Linda (my sister) trailed in the car behind.

Suddenly Chubby looked over and said, “Greg, let’s play the Two Sentence Game.”

The Two Sentence Game?” I replied. “What’s that?”

Dad explained,

“For the rest of the trip neither of us can say more than two sentences before allowing the other to speak.”

“What are we going to talk about?” I asked. READ MORE