I would personally like to thank my editor, Bachgen, for putting forth his time to help make this story a much better read. This was previously posted on another site. It received good reviews at that time, and I hope you enjoy it as well. – Double_entendre.
Here We Go Again...
Decision making can be defined as an act of choosing one scenario or set of actions over another. Most decisions are relatively simple, such as what to have for supper, or which shirt to put on in the morning. Some, however, are life changing alterations that can have a monumental impact in shaping the course of our future. It is this type of decision which I face, and I can honestly say that I am truly afraid of making the wrong choice. You see, my dilemma stems from the fact that my ex-girlfriend, Jennifer, wants to get back together with me. We broke up in high school, and I haven't lived a truly happy day since. It was her fault that we separated. She literally broke my heart, and even though I honestly believe that she would never hurt me again, I'm terrified of being wrong.
Let me introduce myself. My name is Mathew Alexander Denton, my friends call me Matt and so do my parents when they aren't pissed off at me. In order to properly tell you my story, I have to take you back a few decades. When I was young I was labeled a child prodigy. I have a gift for being mechanically inclined, as I am able to understand the inner workings of damn near anything. Hand me something that is broken and I will have it in excellent working condition before most people can even identify the problem.
My father was a top level administrator who worked his way up the corporate ladder to earn a cozy corner office, his own designated parking space, and a key to the executive washroom. Although my dad made more than enough money to support the three of us, Mom decided to return to the work force when my uncle, her brother, started having problems with one of his employees who he eventually had to let go, which left him shorthanded and in desperate need of a front desk receptionist to manage his mechanics shop. My uncle Jake needed someone he could trust, and instead of putting me in daycare, I was 4 years old at the time, my mom agreed to work for him only if she could bring me along with her.
My entire family was worried about me becoming bored and getting into trouble at the shop, but they decided to try it out anyway, at least for a little while, and brought a small collection of "quiet" toys from home for me to play with. As you can probably imagine this did not seem to hold my attention for very long. I began scouting around the shop trying to find something else to do, when I came across my uncle's collection of automotive repair manuals. Mom had taught me to read at an early age, and looking back I must admit that I did have a knack for it. I started flipping through these full colored illustrations, and to everyone's surprise, including my own; they began to make sense to me. I am sure that mom originally thought I was just looking at the pictures, but as long as I kept quiet and didn't damage any of the books, no one really seemed to care if I looked at them.
I would spend literally hours a day going through the series of books my uncle collected throughout the years, learning everything I could about the mechanics of auto repair. Some of his manuals were very detailed, and I found that I was not only learning about the different components of a car and what each device would do, but I was also becoming aware of the various types of tools required to work on these vehicles as well.
My secret was discovered when one day Melvin, one of the mechanics who worked for my uncle, walked into the office and said he had to look up the ignition timing on the vehicle he was working on, and I immediately blurted out that it was one degree over top dead center. He seemed totally shocked that I even comprehended the question, but you should have seen the look on his face when he looked it up in the book, only to find that I was right. Melvin spent the next ten minutes grilling me on the various aspects of car repair, and getting more and more excited as I rattled off the correct answers. My uncle, wondering what was taking Melvin so long in the office, decided to investigate. When mom came back from the restroom she found both men taking turns trying to stump me on my knowledge of car repair, and so far neither of them could. At the time I didn't know what all the hoopla was about, but it was nice to suddenly have these two grown men fawning all over me. To me it was a game, and I couldn't understand why everyone was getting so excited.
From that moment on my uncle took a more active role in my development, even going so far as to take me out into the shop when it wasn't busy to teach me firsthand about the things I'd been studying in his books. It became clear early on that I was actually learning from what I was reading, and not just memorizing script out of a magazine. My uncle Jake started out having me describe how to do different repair jobs, and then gradually moved up to having me attempt them on my own. He, of course, was always right by my side to supervise; and although not being anywhere near as strong as my uncle was a hindrance, I seemed to perform remarkable well given my small size and of course my age.
As time went on my uncle would allow me to do some things which did not require certification on my own. If I needed any help, all I would have to do is ask one of his employees for assistance. Usually this was only done when I wasn't strong enough to twist something loose, or tighten it back up again properly. At first my uncle's workers seemed annoyed by my presence, but it wasn't too long before they became amazed by my abilities and welcomed me into their fold. Although they did have to tone down their use of profanity quite a bit, I was still occasionally privy to my share of adult content.
Uncle Jake started me on my first set of tools that Christmas, and from then on they became my toys of preference. I'd go with mom and help Uncle Jake out in the shop until it was finally time for me to start school. I hated not being able to work in the shop all day, but some of my classes were fun, and it seemed nice to be able to interact with my peers, at least it did at first, anyway.
It quickly became apparent that although I excelled in reading comprehension and anything mechanical, being surrounded by grownups all day long had affected my ability to socialize with kids my own age. I did great in some classes and well enough in others, but I quickly earned the reputation of being a loner, having next to nothing in common with any of my classmates beside the book work.
During the next few years my interest expanded beyond mere automotive repair to anything mechanical. I could now fix just about anything electrical, from VCR's and DVD players, to toasters and garage door openers. I was even good at building computers, though I didn't know how to run them very well after they were put together.
When I turned eight I was once again looking forward to working in the shop over the summer, but my uncle had other ideas, and convinced my parents to let him enter me in an automotive certification class hosted by a local junior college. Of course he had to get special permission from the instructor due to my young age. At first the guy assumed that my uncle was joking, but upon discovering that he was serious about getting me enrolled into the program, Professor Miller told him that he wasn't going to waste a class seat on a kid who was probably barely able to change motor oil. Uncle Jake challenged the professor to test me on my knowledge of automotive repair, and when he refused, saying it was a waste of his time, my uncle decided to get a bit creative.
"I'll tell you what Doc, I have a hundred dollars here that says Mathew can pass any entrance examination you come up with," my uncle challenged.
"I am not going to bet on this child's inability to pass my prerequisite test," Professor Miller responded.
"What's wrong Doc, afraid you'll lose? I'll even make it easy on you. If Mathew fails your test, you can keep the money and never have to hear from us again, but if he passes I get my $100 back and you sign the waiver to accept him into this program. Either way you stand to lose nothing," My uncle said.
"Alright, Mr. McDonald, it's your money," the professor said with an arrogant chuckle.
"And I intend to keep it that way," my uncle replied with a grin on his face.
As you can probably imagine, I was not overly thrilled by this turn of events, as the instructor for this course clearly did not want me in his class. My uncle calmed me down by telling me to just do my best and not to be concerned about the outcome.
The entrance exam actually went really well. The professor started off easy, thinking he could stump me early on. When that didn't work, he moved to the more advanced subject matter, and by the time we had finished with the test he was throwing things at me that were beyond what his class was meant to teach. I knew this, because I had already read the course book. When it was all said and done, I had to attend a class on both Tuesday's and Thursdays, while my uncle got his $100 back. Something didn't seem quite fair, if you asked me.
For the next couple of years, summers seemed to take on the same pattern, with my uncle using his little $100 bill trick until people started recognizing my name when I would enroll for a class. After that the professors would usually just sign the waiver without provocation.
.... There is more of this story ...