I took on the task of driving my youngest grandson to school this week. He’s 12 and lives just under a mile from his middle school.
Apparently slavers, bears or drug dealers will get him if he walks, so I (or some other slightly less annoyed adult) have to pick him up and drop him off.
Tate is smart. I don’t mean proud-grandfather smart. I mean take-over-the-world smart. I truly hope I’m dead before he’s old enough to run for public office.
To keep things constructive, we debated the efficiency of me getting out of bed before sunup to be his chauffeur when he could easily walk to school.
Me: “It shouldn’t take you more than 20 minutes.”
Him: “It takes less if we drive. Like only maybe two minutes.”
Which, of course, is moose [droppings].
What? No, I didn’t tell him that. I thought it, though, because it’s true. Things always take less time when other people do them for you.
In addition to 7:25 a.m. being rush hour, with 500 other school chauffeurs trying to cram their vehicles into the same spot, dropping him off requires the better part of 15 minutes round trip.
Me: “You could ride your bike. Then it would only be a little over five minutes.”
Him: “There are too many turns and stuff.”
He had me there. I’ve watched this kid play video games with his brother. They can go nearly 30 minutes between blinks. Tate would end up in Winnemucca before realizing that he had missed a turn or two.
That’s when I cut straight to the heart of the matter by explaining the concept of traveling from Point A to Point B “as the crow flies,” or the shortest distance is always a straight line.
Me: “See, if you were a sparrow, it’s less than a mile. You could fly it in about two minutes.”
Him: “What if I was an American woodcock?”
Me: “A what?” I don’t know what that — ”
Him: “It’s the slowest flying bird in the world. It can only fly about as fast as we can walk. So it would still take about 17 minutes for me to get to school.”
I should have shut up then. Long ago, I swore I would never be one of those geezers who moaned about how far they had to walk or ride a mule to school, what the temperatures were like, and how many of their classmates died of exposure just for the chance to get an education.
My own father never tried that argument with me, because I already knew the distances between his home and the two schools he attended. The first was “directly across the street.” The second was “directly across the street and left two blocks.”
Besides, debating with Tate is like putting your head in a food processor. His mind is always going, a never-ending whirl of “what ifs?” and “what would happens?”
The discussion may begin with the possibility of extraterrestrial life, but within no time, you’re talking about changing the name of the White House to the “Orange House.” That’s why he doesn’t care about time. He’s always working stuff out.
Before I knew it, my patience was gone. I was cussing the traffic. It was worse than I had ever seen it. Why couldn’t someone do something about it?
Me: “Wish we had a tank or a bulldozer, buddy. I’d squash all the other cars between here and your school.”
Tate: “Papa, we passed my school a long time ago.”
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.