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Don't be a dick

By hugosmithoriginals, Jan 10 2019 01:52PM

So I am 18 years old. My parents have taken out a loan against the mortgage of the house to allow me to get my first car. I am working in retail, earning a lot less than what is now considered minimum wage. The loan is a grand total of £2,500 which is being paid back at £100 per month.

So first of all, I need to explain. This isn’t a mere learning exercise, teaching the young fella how to budget, and manage money. The loan was something that could’nt be written off by my folks. They had always provided for us, and I never felt that I missed anything, but they were not in the financial position to just go and buy their kid a car.

Me and my Dad started looking around second hand car lots. In my haste to get my wheels, I jumped a bit quickly. The car was clean, straight, no bumps or dings, fairly low mileage, one lady owner! All sounds good. My Dad said it made sense, so the deal was done.

I was the proud owner of a 1 litre, 5 door, 3 cylinder hatchback, white, with and blue stripe, and one wing mirror. A car that nervous parents are happy their son picks. Not one with a lot of street cred! As with a lot of my hastily made decisions, the novelty soon wore off, and I started to look at other cars that the loan could have got me had I been more diligent in my search.

Around the same time, my boss in work was looking to purchase a car for his wife. As I said, mine was clean, straight, no bumps and low mileage. Perfect car for Mrs Bossman. He made me an offer, quite a bit less than I had paid 2 months earlier. By this time, I had drawn up a list of much better, desirable and sweet cars that would impress the lads and ladies in town.

So I head home from work, and break the news to my Mum and Dad. I’m selling the car. To say they were not impressed would be an understatement. I hadn’t appreciated the effort and expense they had went to in order to secure the loan, I hadn’t realised how much they worried about the youngest son heading out on the roads on his own. Now, like a little prick, I was arguing that I knew better and that they didn’t know anything about cars. Words were exchanged, and I headed off to my room to make my point in a totally mature act of sulk.

About half and hour later, I hear the front door opening. He’s home, my older brother. I hear the muffled voices of my parents telling him what was going on. I mean this guy is my hero. He done all the real big brother stuff. Plays football, beats people up, goes out with girls, drinks beer and most of all, he always looked out for me. With no doubt, I sit in my room knowing that he is telling my folks that I am in the right.

The footsteps come down the hall and my bedroom doors open.

‘What’s wrong with you?” He asks.

I reply defiantly “They don’t want me to sell my car to my boss!”

What he said next is hardly Shakespeare, it won’t win any literary awards and its probably closer to a bar room banter than a quote of genius. There was a look on his face as he said it that I cant really explain. Part disappointment, partly pissed off that he had to say anything at all.

“Stop being a dick!”

It’s pretty poetic. Gets straight to the point, no hidden meaning or complicated play on words.

With four words, I changed. He didn’t say anything else. He turned and closed the door on his way out. He never spoke about it again, and he didn’t need to.

After about five minutes of pretty intense guilt and shame, I walked down the hall into the kitchen, apologised to my parents. I called my boss and told him the deal was off and my street cred remained unchanged for another year. My one wing mirrored babe magnet remained on the road.

Maybe it was the tone of voice, the look on his face, the surprise that he wasn’t on my side, but it was like I had suddenly saw the other point of view for the first time in my 18 years. He made me realise in four words that my actions could have a profound and lasting impact on those around me. I had managed to piss off an entire house without for one second thinking it was even possible. You realise quickly that being a dick can come naturally, you don’t need to learn how to do it, you simply have to think of only your situation.

So, lesson one was delivered with the subtleties of a sledge hammer and it left a similar mark.

Lesson two was worse. Within a year of lesson one I was in a very different situation. The hero described above was no longer with us. Killed in a tragic fire I would be left with memories of someone who never got beyond 23. Someone who never bought his first home, got married or had kids of his own. Someone who who could frustrate you and make you admire him at the same time. My Mum and Dads first born, the main man, my go to guy. I had always identified myself as his wee brother, not me as a person in my own right. 25 years on, he is still 23 and I am still his wee brother. The family were in bits, and perspective was sometimes in short supply.

Maybe this period of time deserves its own book. What we went through at the time was difficult, and we were tested and stressed to limits. I could talk about him all day, and we still do sometimes. There hasn’t been a day since 1994 that he hasn’t been thought of. He is regularly in my dreams and it hurts to wake out of those dreams sometimes.

So, I’m 19, pissed off with the world and one hero short. Some might say this is the perfect dick storm. You have a free pass at dickdom! Perfect excuse to drink, take funny substances, go a bit mad, go off the grid. Who is going to challenge you? “Hey, my brother just died. So fuck you!”

That isn’t the path I took, I couldn’t hurt my parents anymore than they already were. At no point was the advice “Stop being a dick” more important. That is the thing, it is a choice. Dickness comes naturally to most of us but we can choose not to accept it, and not to force those closest to you to have to watch on as you do it.

So, for 25 years I have lived by this principle. I am sure I have not always been successful and that I have been a dick on regular occasions, but I always check myself. I will always remember the look on the face and the stark reality that hit me that day. As I struggle to bring up the next generation of our family, I like all parents have hopes and fears for what lies ahead for our kids. There is a long way to go, but I am so proud of my two boys already. School will teach them maths and english, girlfriends will break their hearts and life will give them some tests. I will teach them to “Stop being a dick!”

So, after 25 years of benefiting from these wise words and watching as people move more to the fringes and edges of ideologies, I wonder if we could all benefit from adopting this four worded, simplified view of the world. Let’s be honest, we all could do with one less dick in the world! I bet you can think of someone in this split second who could benefit from hitting the dick reset button.

So if we start a chain reaction, removing the dicks one at a time from our communities through self rehabilitation we have a chance to make this world a better, more prosperous and easier place to live.

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