AN INVESTMENT
LIKE NO OTHER

    "Iím off to work," I said to my wife last week as I headed out the door for the airport, suitcase in hand. "Iíll see you in a few days."
    "Iím so proud of you," she replied, kissing me hungrily. "I know youíll take great care of our San Diego investment."
    "Thatís my job, and I will not fail," I said proudly. "The $22,000 we spent for our 18 year old sonís first semester at the University of San Diego will not be lost."
    She kissed me again, throwing her arms around me and hugging me tightly. "Save us," she cried. "Get that boy to class."
    It wasnít going to be simple. The 18 year old had made it all the way through high school with an unstable piece of bone in his knee, playing baseball, tennis and water polo with the knowledge it could break off at any time.
   Three weeks into his first semester at USD and he chases a girl down the hall in his dorm and, sure enough, the piece breaks off. Who won the race and whether there was any tackling involved is still under investigation.
   Regardless, surgery was required to remove the piece of bone that was now floating around his knee joint and repair the divot it left at the bottom of his femur. He would be as good as new, after six weeks of keeping all weight off the joint.
   There was some discussion about pulling him out of school and bringing him home for the operation. That lasted about six seconds.
   Instead, I found a nice doctor in San Diego (no one was available in Tijuana) who performed the operation, and then I flew down south last week and got to work figuring out how to get him to class so I could protect my investment.
   There was some resistance, even after most of his pain dissipated over the weekend. But I dragged him out of bed on Monday morning, strapped on his hip to ankle knee brace, handed him his crutches, and helped him into the car.
   "I canít go to class," he whined as I drove to the USD campus from the hotel room where we were staying. "I canít even bend my leg. How am I supposed to sit?"
   "Thatís funny," I replied. "You certainly made it through dinner at the restaurant last night with minimal discomfort."
   "Canít I just miss a few days?" he asked.
   We figured it out together. He had 17 hours of class time per week for a 10 week semester. Thatís 170 hours divided into the $22,000 I was paying, which came to approximately $130 per hour of learning. No way he was missing any hours, let alone any days.
   I parked in the handicapped space outside his first class, using the temporary handicapped placard he had acquired for his car. I helped him out of his seat and strapped on his backpack, just like I did when he went to kindergarten.
   "This sucks," he said. "Everybody is going to be staring at me."
   The San Diego wildfires had just ended. "Tell them a tree fell on you while you were saving a family of five from their burning house. That will shut them up."
   "Besides," I added, "chicks dig crutches. You can work the sympathy angle."
   That perked him up, but not much. He looked pretty miserable as he limped into the building. But at least he was making $130 per hour, which isnít bad for an 18 year old.
   I got him a bagel and juice, and waited patiently in the car, just like a puppy dog, for his class to end. $130 later, he hobbled out the door and I helped him into the car.
   "How was it," I asked, hoping he wasnít going to kill me.
   "Painful," he replied.
   "Did you learn anything?
   "No."
   It was a good start. He survived. I handed him the bagel and off we went to the next building and a 2 hour class, or a whopping $260.
   By Thursday, he had it down. He could take a shower on his own, get in and out of the car on his own, and even got permission from the doctor to drive himself. The complaining subsided. It was time to move him back to the dorm, where his friends were eagerly waiting to help get him food and make sure he got to class.
   My job was done. Our investment was safe, at least until the grades come in.
 

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