Happy Father’s Day 2020

Today is my first Father’s Day.

In today’s post, I want to share 3 important lessons I learned from my dad over the years.

My dad hardly ever taught me a lesson with words. He wasn’t really the Danny Tanner / Uncle Phil type. 

He never sat me down and lectured me to ensure I received the message. Instead, he led by example. 

My dad’s expectations of his children were set by the high standard he held himself to. I hope I can do the same for Luna. 

I’m also not-so-secretly looking forward to dropping Mr. Pheeny-esque gems on her every now and then. 

Without further adieu, the 3 lessons I learned from my dad... 

Tomorrow Doesn’t Exist.

In the winter of 2017, the backup water heater went out at my parent’s business. I got the call around 10AM. 

My dad called to ask if I would pick up Bruce, our plumber, from his house. 

I’d have to bring him to a plumbing supply store in Secaucus to pick up parts, and then come back to my parent’s business so Bruce could fix the water heater.

We were in the middle of a storm that called for 8-10 inches of snow.

“Can’t this wait until tomorrow, Dad?”, a question I’ve asked 1,000x before. 

His answer was always the same, “It’s happening today. Are you going to do it or am I?”

I ended the call with, “Fine, text me the address.”

The job was complete around 5PM. At which point, I had to drop Bruce back off to his house. 

In the car ride on the way back, Bruce said, “Ya know, Sun, I’ve worked for so many people in my time as a plumber, but I’ve never quite met someone like your father.”

  • “Ha! Tell me about it… But what do you mean, specifically?” I asked.

“Well, when he called me this morning I told him there’s absolutely no way in hell I was going to drive around in a snowstorm to fix a backup water heater. So he offered to pick me up...”

  • What he meant to say was, “My son will pick you up, haha”.

“You know damn well he would have picked me up if you couldn’t.”

  • “That’s true”, I said. 

“But then I was like, Barry, It’s a snow day, I don’t want to work! I was really hoping he would leave me alone after that... Then he offered to pay me double.”

  • “Wow, and did he actually pay you double?”, I asked. 

“Sunny, your dad would have paid me triple if I asked. He’s always looking for a deal, but more than that: he’s obsessed with solving problems immediately. If an “i” isn’t dotted or a “t” isn’t crossed, he can’t sleep until it’s fixed.”

This was something I’ve known about my dad my entire life. But hearing someone else say it out loud validated it for me. 

My dad’s inability to procrastinate is his super power.

Always Show Up.

When I was in the 6th or 7th grade, my dad dropped me and a bunch of friends off to a bowling alley a few towns over. 

It was a car full of raging teenage boys blasting Hot-97 and Power-105 screaming, “Stop! Drop! Shut ‘em down, open up shop!...

My dad definitely hated every second of it. But the agreement was that another friend’s parents would pick us all up at the end of the night and drop us to our respective homes. 

About halfway into the first game of the night, I accidentally sat down on a friend’s plate of nachos and cheese! 

I spent the next 10 minutes in the bathroom trying to clean the butt of my pants, but nothing worked. It looked like I shit myself. I was terribly embarrassed. 

I used the pay phone by the bathroom to call home using 1-800-C-A-L-L A-T-T. 

My mom picked up, and I demanded she send my dad back to the bowling alley as soon as he got home to pick me up.

She told me to just wait for my friend’s parents to bring us all home. I reluctantly agreed.

I went back to my friends and sat out the rest of the game. I planned to sit out every game the rest of the night. I didn’t want to stand up from my seat.

15 minutes later my dad showed up and took me home. We didn’t say one word to each other on the car ride home. Not because there was nothing to say, but because nothing needed to be said.

Hard Work Amplifies Luck

My dad and I often discuss the role luck plays in various outcomes. 

His stance is typically the same in any scenario: Hard work can amplify a lucky break. It can also out-maneuver an unlucky set back.

Some people might look at the success my dad has achieved and label him as lucky.

He married my mom, whose oldest sister was already in the United States. My mom’s sister sponsored them for a Visa, and within 2 years they immigrated from India to New Jersey.

Once they arrived in America, my mom’s oldest brother set them up with a housekeeping job at a motel in Atlantic City.

After they cleaned rooms for some time, my parents were selected to manage a small property in Pine Brook, NJ. It had 45 rooms, but only 10 of them were active. 35 rooms were offline because of deferred maintenance. 

The income from that property provided a full life for our family of 6 for 3+ decades. 

So is my dad lucky? On the surface, sure. I’d agree with that sentiment. He received a series of opportunities many people in his position could only dream of.

But he also worked his ass off.

My dad’s dad passed away at a young age. My dad put himself through University and got a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Immediately after University, he got a government job in a big city.

Without those base qualifications, my mom’s family wouldn’t have considered my dad as a “viable candidate” for an arranged marriage.

Cleaning rooms in a motel was a far cry from the big city job my dad had back in India. He leaned in and used the opportunity as leverage. 

Once my parents received the management position for the property in Pine Brook, NJ, my dad converted all 45 rooms up and running within the first year of business operations.

From there, one by one he bought out the other partners. He started that job in 1985 and paid off his final partner around 2010. 

After 25 years, my parents could finally say they owned 100% of their own business.

My mom helped with the business here and there, but her main focus was raising my sisters and me. 

Today, my dad still only owns 22% of that business. That’s how much the partners gave him and my mom the day they bought the property.

Every time my parents bought another partner’s equity, it went straight into my mom’s name. 

The house my parents live in is also in my mom’s name. My parents’ cars are also in my mom’s name. Basically anything of monetary value goes into my mom’s name. 

I interpret these moves as my dad acknowledging how lucky he is. But we also know he wouldn’t be where he is today without putting in the work.

Sunny Shakhawala

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