SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Running into a teenager parental responsibility



February 07, 2015
Saturday AM

Ketchikan, Alaska -
Charlotte and I like to think we are "involved" with our child.

Yes, it's easier to be "involved" with your child when there is only one.

jpg  Dave Kiffer

When I was growing up, one of my friends lived in a family that had 11 kids, nine of which were boys.

I remember being at a scout meeting in which three of the scouts were from that same super-sized family.

The father arrived looking harried as usual (we NEVER EVER NEVER EVER saw the mother outside of the house). For a few seconds he stared blankly at the scouts milling around.

I could say he was momentarily thrown off by the fact that those uniforms make the scouts all look like.

But he was really trying to sort through two important questions.

How many of my kids are here?

Which ones are they?

I also knew another family that had five boys.

The father always called the middle one "Number Three."

I think he was kidding.

But I digress.

We are fortunate that we only have to keep track of one child. And now that Liam is old enough to drive - WITH SUPERVISION - we will have to be even more "involved."

One of us will have to be in the car with him whenever he wants to venture out vehicularly. That will thrill him to no end.

We will have to be even more picayune in our questioning of his proposed destinations and potential get togethers with his friends.

I mean, even when I didn't have my own car, I was always helping other folks by driving their cars around hither and yon.

Wait. Scratch that.

That didn't actually happen.

I would never go to parties with my friends and then drive their cars home because they are too blotto to stand up. That absolutely never ever never happened. Got that Liam????


We will remain "involved" by asking a lot of irritating questions, calling other parents, and monitoring arrival times.

And since we always like to be ahead of the game, we also got "involved" a little early with a couple of lessons in motor vehicle accidents recently.

Living in Ketchikan means you have a car with dings on it.

The weather causes trouble, the inconsistent road surface causes trouble, other drivers cause trouble.

When someone gets a brand new shiny car in Ketchikan, the other/under bet on how long before the first ding is always somewhere around five minutes.

You drive the car off the lot, the value immediately drops 30 percent, and the first ding appears a couple of minutes later.

I used to think that the key to getting rich in Ketchikan was to sell groceries, but I am pretty sure that a quicker path these days (although groceries are still really, really, really expensive) is to own an auto body shop.

Dings happen here as often as it rains.

Of course, a lot of people don't ever fix those dings, so that probably cuts back on the margins of the auto body folks. We've all seen rusted out Toyotas, Subarus and Fords running about held together only by the sheer cussed stubbornness of the driver.

Really, if the only way to stop your vehicle is to put your feet out Fred Flintstone-style, it's probably not safe for you and it's also not safe for the rest of us who are actually assuming you are going to at least slow down for that four-way stop.

But, again, I digress.

At any rate, we have generally been lucky with our cars. We have gone years in which we get only the garden variety blasting zone rock dings and the ever-present pothole-induced fractured drive trains. But nothing that involved Dante's Ninth Circle of Hell: Insurance claims.

Until last month.

Last month, we gave Liam two good lessons in looking out for the other guy.

First, Liam and I were heading off to a soccer match. As we came down Bawden Street, there was another car ahead of us. We dutifully following him up to the stop sign. Where, inexplicably, he decided to back up without looking back.

It was one of those slow motion things where you think "he's not really going to back into us."

And then he does.

Fortunately our car remained navigable and only one headlight and a turn signal will need to be repaired at a cost of all the premiums we have paid for the past 10 years. What, you didn't know that's how they figure it? Seriously?

And that was the reduced rate because it wasn't our fault.

Not that the long distance insurance adjuster believed me.

"Uh, were you taking any controlled substances at the time of the accident?"

"It wasn't my fault."

"Were there any birds or animals that may have distracted you?"

"It wasn't my fault."

"When was the last time you slammed into another car from behind?"

"It wasn't my fault."

So that was my "run in."

Liam was suitably impressed.

"How come that doofus backed up, Dad?" he asked.

"Because you have to assume that all other drivers are doofuses, son," I answered. "You are always right."

Then Charlotte had her own "run in."

She was PARKED in the Schoenbar parking lot, when another car came all the way across from the other side of the lot just to back into her. And, coincidentally, take out her left turn signal and headlight too.

I assume her "grilling" by the insurance adjuster (what the heck are they adjusting? The car still looks the same after they have finished their work!) was slightly different that mine.

"Uh, were you taking any controlled substances at the time of the accident?"

"I wasn't in my car. It was parked."

"Were there any birds or animals that may have distracted you?

"I wasn't in my car. It was parked."

"When was the last time you slammed into another car?"

"I wasn't in my car. It was parked."

So, Liam now has two valuable examples of why it is important to be a defensive driver and how you really should just leave your car in the garage and take public transit if you want to avoid car insurance adjuster hell.

Or, maybe, we’re just practicing for what could become a more common occurrence during Liam’s high school driving years?

That’s a type of parental involvement we are NOT looking forward to.

On the Web:

More Columns by Dave Kiffer

Historical Feature Stories by Dave Kiffer


Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Dave at

Dave Kiffer ©2015

Publish A Letter

Letter to the Editor

SitNews ©2015
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska


SitNews ©2014
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska

Contact the Editor