Dad seems different since he retired four months ago – lighter in spirits, somehow. I guess that’s to be expected, given that he’s no longer doing that stupid cross-town commute to the garage. I’d just been sort of concerned that he’d stagnate when he quit, because he’s never exactly been overloaded with hobbies or a social life. He put all his energy into being the quintessential ‘good provider’, perhaps at the expense of experiencing much of anything else that life has to offer. I don’t blame him for that; I’ve just been keen for him to start living it up a little.
It seems he’s coming through on this, in his own way. He’s turned his mechanic skills to restoring a 1980s truck – a big old dirty ute of exactly the kind that (I now realise) he’s always dreamed of having. Along with working on the motor and suspension, he’s also getting deep into kitting this monster out with a custom recreational rig. I think that’s where the real appeal lies for him, actually.
There’s a certain childlike glee in his eyes as he devours lists of premium ute accessories. I’m talking after-market add-ons like tapered under tray tool boxes and custom-made service bodies. This stuff seems like it’s probably designed for use by tradies, but I’m guessing that dad’s piecing together something he can take off-road and drive across the Nullarbor with. I’d never thought of him as a potential grey nomad, but now I’m starting to see it.
In any case, I’m happy to leave him to his research on aluminium commercial ute canopies. Melbourne isn’t exactly known for rough terrain, so it’s possible that dad’s just excited to work on this type of ride – maybe he didn’t see too many of them at the garage. I’ve also heard that some people are just suckers for vintage ute design, even if they have no legitimate requirement to drive such a vehicle.