LDS congregations consist of wards comprising three or four hundred peeps in each. Usually 10 or 15 wards make up a stake. Each stake has a stake president who presides over and oversees the operations. They aren’t paid, put in a lot of time and generally are inspired and over-achievers. They usually last for 10 years before they get replaced and put out to pasture.
Our stake president is a guy about half my age and twice my IQ named Jeff Larsen. He is unassuming, humble and an all-around good guy. In his spare time while not doing church responsibilities he works as some kind of auditor for the federal government.
Last year he called Michele and I on a service mission to help some refugee families from the Congo. He also wanted to be involved so he and his family hooked up with one of our families and became their good friends. Earlier this year we had a dinner at our home with some of Jeff’s family and our friends Jean, Venance, Jibu, Leon, and Anna.
When President Larson arrived, one of the first things he said to me was: “Brother Casper, you have just gained six points in my book.” I asked why and he said it was because he noticed when pulling in to our residence that I had a Corvette.
Now you might not know this but six points is a big deal in my book. Maybe not in Jeff’s book, but it’s mondo-jumbo in mine. In most people’s books, a negative double-digit number is next to my name.
I thought it was nice I was getting a compliment instead of a reprimand. I trust the dude so I told him he was welcome to borrow it sometime if he would let me drive his Nissan Sentra at the same time. I got the impression he thought I was kidding. He acted like it was an impossible pipe dream that would never happen.
So, I started pestering him in text messages. Finally, last week, I managed to catch him coming to Basin City for a church meeting. I insisted we swap rigs. Imagine my surprise when he pulled in with the coveted Sentra.
Before he could change his mind, I pulled him out of his Sentra and confiscated his keys. The only thing he could do was slither into the cockpit of the Vette and drive off.
I drove that Sentra (featured in the background) every where I needed to go and then some. I ran out first thing each morning and just sat in the seat, pretending to gun the engine and make tire screeching sounds as I rocked my body back and forth behind the wheel. When I got back in the evenings from work, I shut the engine off and for the next half-hour to forty-five minutes, I just sat and basked in the fine vinyl upholstery and plastic steering wheel.
Just to make sure Jeff was everything I thought he was, I checked the trunk for empty beer bottles and the ashtray for cigarette butts. I could find nothing. A-hah! Just as I suspected.
However, I did find an empty Diet Coke can under the seat. For Jeff’s sake, please don’t tell anyone else about the pop can, especially if they’re from Salt Lake.
I decided I wouldn’t tell anyone about us trading cars as I sensed that President Larsen wanted to keep it hush-hush. But just in case I needed any dirt on him in the future, I snapped a picture as he pulled out in the Vette.
So that all changed this morning. We had our bi-annual stake conference yesterday and today. This morning Jeff let the cat out of the bag. He talked about me loaning him the car and how he was surprised that the car would go 200 mph. He then talked about how we often are going so fast through life that we miss out on a lot. He urged us to slow down and take time to do the more important things in life like helping those around us.
I missed most of his message because I was wondering what in the heck road he was on doing 200 mph. I’ve looked around this country in vain for that long of a straight stretch of asphalt. The last time I saw an endless road like that, it was in the movie Dr. Zhivago and the road was a railroad track.
I realize people might wonder why I would let somebody borrow my Vette. There is only one reason I did it. Let’s see if you can guess the correct answer…
- I am a brown-noser.
I want to get in good with the powers-that-be in order to personally benefit at some future time. Speaking of Siberia, to cut to the chase and be perfectly honest, I already had a motive. I would like him to call me and my wife on a full-time 10-year church mission to Siberia. I thought loaning him the Vette might make this coveted calling materialize.
Ever since I saw the movie Dr. Zhivago 40 or 50 years ago, I’ve always wanted to go to Siberia. It sounds like a place where you can get away from the crowds and traffic and truly find peace, at least as much peace as you can get with a leader like Putin. Putin and Larsen have a lot of the same qualities so I’m thinking there won’t be a whole lot of difference whether I live in Basin City or Siberia.
Dr. Zhivago takes place in Russia and at least part of the time in Siberia. I remember lots of scenes where there are beautiful landscapes, lots of locomotives, a ton of snow and plenty of intrigue. That should be the only difference.
- Jeff is a nice guy.
He didn’t ask to borrow my car, he just gave me six points in his book. That’s why I loaned him my car.
- I wanted to sit in and maybe even drive Jeff’s Sentra.
I could think of no other way to get my hands on it. I knew that, unlike my Vette, I could put the pedal to the metal in the Sentra and never have to worry about getting a speeding ticket.
I was also aware that I could leave the keys in the ignition at all times and never have to worry about somebody stealing it. I didn’t dare do that with the Vette. That thing would be gone in five minutes. With the Sentra, my life immediately became peaceful and stress-free. I love that car!
So which is the correct answer? Surprise! You are wrong!
All three answers are correct. Now all I have to do is wait by the mailbox for my mission call and wait by the phone to see if Jeff wants to trade cars again.
Btw, the visiting General Authority from Salt Lake gave the keynote address which was a wonderful talk. He mentioned you didn’t have to have a Porsche or Corvette to be happy. There are far more important things in this world than material stuff. But then he added something to the effect that “It’s still OK for President Larsen or that other guy to drive a Corvette.”
I’m a little bugged that he called me that other guy. If he had used proper labeling and called me a Recovering Idiot, I might have sold a couple more books this week.
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