Mr. Wisnewski, my high school Auto Shop teacher, was absolutely my least favorite teacher of all time. Unfortunately, I had to put up with him during the entire 3 years I attended Lakeview High School. When I started my first year of Auto Shop, which was purely book theory, I was quite possibly the most ignorant student in the class when it came to working on cars. Many of the other kids had worked on cars with their dads and knew quite a bit about them.
My dad never spent a lot of time with my sister Deb or me, maybe because he had to work the afternoon shift at TRW or maybe because it really didn’t matter to him whether he did or not. I try not to dwell on what the reason was. My mom knew nothing about cars; she didn’t even know how to drive one. Consequently, my knowledge of cars was limited, at best; but then, that’s why I wanted to take auto shop in the first place – to learn how cars worked and how to repair them. Whenever I failed to immediately grasp some concept or got some answer wrong that almost everybody else got right; Mr. Wisnewski would make it a point to make some belittling comment or gesture alluding to how stupid my question was. It really got me down in the beginning, but as the school year rolled along, and my knowledge on the subject increased I gave him less and less opportunity to try to make me look or feel stupid. However, the following year, Auto Shop was a two hour class – the first half was book theory, the latter half was on the shop floor actually working on cars. During the hand’s on portion of the class, Mr. Wisnewski was again able to make me his prime target for ridicule. Whenever I made a mistake, he was sure to advertise my stupid mistake to anyone within earshot. Now, I have always viewed making a mistake as an excellent learning experience; a sign of ignorance, not stupidity. Ignorance can be easily remedied – you learn. Overcoming stupidity is much more difficult. I pride myself on rarely making the same mistake twice. When I do, I’m pretty hard on myself, because it is then that I feel I was truly stupid. As with the previous school year, Mr. Wisnewski’s derision toward me subsided as the year rolled on. Still, he always seemed to be looking for the opportunity to chime out to the class whenever I did make a mistake. This continued into the senior year auto shop class.
Auto Shop T&I (Trade and Industrial) was a two hour hands on only class. If anything, my perseverance increased that year – I wanted (maybe needed is more accurate) to prove that I could be as good, even better, than my classmates who didn’t have the past history of asking stupid questions or making stupid mistakes. I got a job helping out at a local service garage where I was hired to pump gas, but Gus, the owner, agreed to let me assist him with many of the repairs as well. I ended up acing Auto T&I (this despite the heavy partying I did in my senior year, but that’s another story altogether) and was the only one in my class to take and pass the state certification test for engine rebuilding and brakes before I even graduated high school. I would have taken the tests for other areas as well, except I didn’t have the money to pay for them at the time. Regardless, I felt I had proven myself – and I made sure that before my senior year of high school had ended, Mr. Wisnewski knew what I had accomplished. I don’t know if it really mattered to him, but it really mattered to me.
Don’t ever call me stupid.
Copyright © 2014 Mr. Flying Pig