My spring break | Chuck's World

By Chuck Sigars | May 14, 2014

There’s much to be said about Ancient Greece, and specifically Classical Athens, beginning around 2,500 years ago. Much of it has already been said. Almost none of it will be said in this column.

Except to note the obvious, which is that Athens was the figurative birthplace of democracy, along with being the literal birthplace of Socrates, Pericles and Sophocles.

It was where Western civilization shot out of the blocks, stimulating the philosophy, arts and science whose influences are felt today, even in places like Alabama.

But you know all this, or are slightly aware, or learned about it, or saw a movie once. Don’t look to me for a serious discussion. I know next to nothing about Pericles, for example.

Classical Athens, though, is where the concept of a statute of limitations seems to have first appeared, the idea that there’s a time limit on the prosecution of crimes.

Memories fade, evidence is lost, stories change: These are all good and healthy reasons to protect the accused from lingering threats, even if some of them might actually be guilty.

Only for certain crimes, of course. Not the big ones, but then I didn’t commit any big ones. But I jumped ahead a bit there. Also, I will explain about Alabama later.

The statute of limitations in Athens was generally around five years, which works out great for me, since it’s been five years since 2009. If all is not forgiven, I’m pretty sure at least no liability is involved.

Here’s what happened: Five years ago, for about a week, I lived mostly in a Volkswagen with an offspring of mine, although by the end of that week both of us were probably considering DNA testing just to be sure.

My daughter and her fiancé lived in Boston, but both of them had been hired to work in Santa Fe, N.M. for the summer.

Since her fiancé was currently in Europe and would make it to Santa Fe at the last possible moment, it was up to my daughter to move their clothes and other important things across most of the United States, all of it crammed into the aforementioned Volkswagen.

And my daughter, using what judgment she possessed at the time, decided that she needed to cram her father in there, too. For company. For security. For father-daughter bonding. For fun.

It’s important to note that almost none of those things actually happened. Again, I appear to be immune to prosecution.

It was stressful, is what I’m really saying. Cramped quarters, a lot of territory to cover, some upcoming events to consider (my daughter was planning on getting married in Santa Fe, too), and just the general malaise of the interstate highway system all combined to produce, at the end, what I imagine the survivors of the Donner Party felt upon reaching California.

At least we didn’t eat anybody, but that doesn’t mean there were a lot of laughs.

And I will say, now, five years down the real and metaphorical road, that a lot of it was my fault.

My daughter was 24 at the time, which meant that for the first half of her life I’d been her buddy, and the second half her banker. Those are very different relationships, and now it was her goal to reestablish emotional connections and it was my goal to play around with Twitter.

We passed through eight or nine states on the first day, several more on the second and Alabama on the third.

We got a flat tire outside of Birmingham. It wasn’t that big of a deal, but you know how it goes when there are a lot of miles stretching ahead and you’re stuck in a place that, frankly, to people who grew up on the West Coast has a less than thrilling history.

I’ve seen some movies, etc. I spent a week there one hour, in other words, and then there was Mississippi and Louisiana ahead. I mean no disrespect.

The flat tire was not my fault. In fact, I paid for a new tire, out of guilt and the goodness of my heart, and we had some nice conversations and a few laughs, to be fair.

But by far the worst thing I did on that trip, for which I am extremely grateful to those thoughtful folks in Athens, was try to work from the road.

I’ve been self-employed most of my adult life. It wasn’t a choice as much as a destiny, or at least that’s what my epitaph is supposed to say, but in 2009 I actually had a regular gig that involved me being online in the evenings for a few hours, editing some technical writing.

I could even do this from the car, tethering my ancient laptop to my ancient cellphone (it was a 3G world back then, or possibly 2G. Maybe PG-13. I can’t remember).

That was my mistake, trying to work while my daughter drove in the dark and fought sleep and stress, and why five years later we’re back on better terms.

And why this week, with no road trip on the schedule but a project I needed to complete, I took a week off. Off. No working. No money coming in. Just a week off, my first real one in never.

Because if you don’t learn your lesson after five years, then you deserve what you get. Except in Alabama, where probably you already have it.

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