The Pursuit of Happiness

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My father was a self-employed, self-made man who hated everyone on a public payroll from the president on down to the janitor at the county courthouse. He positively knew that labor unions were scams for lazy no-goods, and that court ordered child support was a government conspiracy exclusively designed to defraud him out of money. You know the kind of guy I’m talking about. He may even live next door.

Taxes were a racket in Dad’s world, and he didn’t pay them without apportioning bales of indignation in endless whine sessions documenting his outrage and persecution. He wouldn’t fill out forms required for me to qualify for a college scholarship – he was hiding income – so I got a second-shift job as a grinder at a company called Tel-E-Lect at the beginning of my senior year in high school. I made $2.05 an hour for cleaning welds on booms, and after 90 days I got health insurance. I didn’t know what health insurance was and never used it, but $2.05 an hour was enough to live on and go to college in those days. Imagine that.

I watched Dad’s business career over the years. He tracked storms for a while and put papier-mâché roofs on the houses of gullible homeowners. He started a trucking company and supplied his drivers with Benzedrine and instructions to avoid scales. He owned an automobile repair shop, and if you went in with a dicky battery you came out with a new generator, alternator, and starter. At the end of his life, Dad owned and operated a small Costa Rican airline company that flew “stuff” from Mexico and Central America to rural airports in Texas and the South.

Dad’s descriptions of his businesses were dramatic. He was the smartest, most brilliant roofer, trucker, car-repairer, fly-boy who ever lived. No one in the history of the world had overcome such onslaughts of persecution by losers, Jews, and crooked lawyers as he had overcome. He was great and they were slime.

If Dad had been born a trust fund baby, instead of a poor boy from Iowa, he’d obviously be President of the United States today.

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