Mr. Responsible

2013-01-28T07:30:00Z Mr. ResponsibleRick Kaempfer nwitimes.com
January 28, 2013 7:30 am  • 

I don't want to say that my mother and sister consider me to be slightly irresponsible, but if I ever get a call from either of them asking me to take them somewhere, I immediately know that they have already exhausted every other conceivable option.

I can’t blame them, really, I suppose. I did earn that reputation during my younger days. When we were kids and my parents left us at home, they always left my sister in charge even though she’s a year younger than I am. She was the responsible one. I was not.

I’ve been fighting that image now for thirty years. You’d think that my professional success, and the fact that I’m a work-at-home dad raising three (non-incarcerated) boys would have changed their opinions, but no. When my sister called me the other day and said she needed me to drive her to and from the hospital for a medical procedure, I knew right away what that meant.

“Mom can’t do it, huh?” I asked.

“Nope.”

She reminded me a couple of times in the days before the procedure, although she’s gotten much better at how she does it. She no longer leads with a “Hey moron, don’t forget”, and now goes with a more subtle reminder like “On Monday morning when you take me to the hospital, is that going to take you away from any of your assignments?”

See how she did that? Pretty smooth, eh?

But this is not 1983 Rick. This is 2013 Rick. I am now a responsible father and respected member of the community. I’m nearly 50 years old. I don’t need constant reminders anymore. Today was the day I would prove it to her once and for all.

The procedure was this morning, and not only didn’t I forget, I was early. When we got to the hospital, a nurse asked if I was there to drive her home. I said I was.

“What relation are you to the patient?” she asked.

“I’m her brother.”

She smiled, and said “Awwwwww.”

As she walked my sister to her room, I heard the nurse saying how great it was that a big brother would come and help out like that. I thought to myself…”I’ll turn this reputation around yet. You watch!”

When the procedure was over, I went to the recovery room. A different nurse asked if I was the “responsible adult” there to drive Cindy home.

“That’s something I’ve never been called before,” I cracked in my usual self-deprecating fashion. The nurses all laughed at my charming banter.

“OK,” the main nurse said. ”We’ll bring her out to the front door. Why don’t you go get your car and bring it around to the entrance.”

I darted out to the parking lot, put my key in the ignition, and….

…nothing. The battery was dead. I had left the lights on.

Maybe my mother and sister aren’t so wrong about me after all. Now if you’ll pardon me for a moment, I have to call an actual responsible adult to take my sister home.

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