A word from Superintendent Quintin Shepherd

Closing Thoughts: The check engine light is on

The following is an article provided by Supt. Quintin Shepherd of the Victoria I.S.D.

I am going to take a break from writing about school and the bond and share a quick story from my childhood for your enjoyment. I remember growing up on the farm during the farm crisis of the 1980s and if there was one thing we never had enough of it was money. I think back on that time and wonder how my parents made it work. It was a constant fear that maybe we would become the next family to “lose the farm” during the crisis. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad for the experience because it ultimately made me the person I’ve become today. It left an indelible imprint on me as a person.

I drove a GMC S-15 Sierra Classic, very used.The truth is I didn’t have a car for myself, my older brother and I split the costs. We did our best to maintain it with regular oil changes and such, but it was old. I remember vividly the day the check engine light came on. There was a feeling of instant dread at that moment. It didn’t just mean the truck might die at any time, it also meant spending money he and I didn’t really have. We never talked about it, but I think he and I both had the understanding we couldn’t go to our parents and ask either. I’ll pause and state the obvious, you probably know what we did, and you probably know how it turned out.

We did nothing. Every time we started the truck, the light came on. I remember hoping and praying the problem would just fix itself, but that never happened. We tend to do that sometimes in life. Meanwhile, we had to get around, so we continued to drive it. Eventually, we resorted to putting electrical tape over the indicator so we wouldn’t have to see it. We do that sometimes in life if we are trying to avoid something. Out of sight, out of mind worked a little, but that tape still told us there was a problem.

One cold winter morning, we tried to start it up in order to head to school and nothing happened. No false start, just nothing. At that moment I remember thinking it was dead and so were we. We still didn’t have any money, but our problems just got a whole lot worse. This created a further burden on our parents to figure out how the teenage boys would get around, and we have a truck that isn’t working.

The details have fogged a bit over time, somehow my parents scraped together enough money to get that truck moving again and everything resolved itself. My father had the wisdom to use this as a teaching opportunity for us. He didn’t scold us for not saying something, because he didn’t need to. We already felt bad and him shouting at us wouldn’t make it any better or worse. He talked about the first time that light went on and the importance of stopping and thinking about choices and the consequences. We chose to wait and not spend the money, and it ended up costing us a lot more in the end. What I remember most from that conversation was the importance of leaving everything you touch in a better condition than you found it (this goes for tools, equipment, and I’ve come to realize, relationships) and taking care of the things you care about.

Written by Supt. Quintin Shepherd of the Victoria I.S.D.