Last week a Florida man made the news because of a Craigslist ad he put up for the sale of a 1998 Ford Explorer. It was his truck…but he bought it for his 18-year old son. Allan Gieger has now sold what became his son’s truck, a 1998 Dodge Explorer, for $1250. Here’s what the ad read:
“I have my sons [sic] truck up for sale that I bought for him as his first car, he thinks it’s cool to drive around with his friends smokin dope and acting all thug and especially not showing me and my wife the respect that we deserve…This was a vehicle to finish school in, get a decent job and get a head start on life but chose to throw it all away because his friends would rather have an influence on him more than me! Now he can put those Jordans to use walk his ass off on these hot summer days!”
Esquire just did an interview with him and it turns out it brought him & his son closer:
ESQ: You’ve been getting a lot of attention over this. Have you done many interviews?
There’s been quite a few people that have called me, curious about how everything transpired and what’s going on now.
The truck had a deposit on it within two hours of the posting of the Craigslist ad, but I didn’t really notice it taking off ’till Thursday morning when I woke. I had numerous emails and text messages and Facebook messages. I was like, “Man what is going on here?” I started responding to each one personally thanking them for their support. That’s when it starting getting big. That evening when I came home, I talked to my son about it more. I said, “Man, I didn’t expect all of this.” He was very supportive through the whole thing. He was like, “Dad, I know I messed up. I should’ve seen this coming.” But he didn’t expect it to be that big either. But he knew why I did it, and he understood. He’s actually turned over a new leaf, so far. We’re a week in, and it seems to have really helped him. It helped him understand where I was at emotionally with him.
So he’s had his eyes opened?
There’s not a book that you can read that will tell you how to raise your children, because every child is different, and you have different parenting skills. But just the way I was raised by my father, teaching me how to live right, let them know when you’re upset, but be there for them when they’re trying to do better. It’s worked 18 years now with him, and it’s worked for 38 years with me.
Have you gotten any negative comments from people talking about the idea of shaming your son online?
I’ve got a couple negative people. They support me in what I did, but they feel the embarrassment part was taken a little bit too far. I’ve also reached out to those people, in Facebook messages or whatever, and I explain to them the full deal, because I want them to understand exactly where I’m coming from and make sure they have the full story before criticizing my parenting skills. And they all understand. I’m a very open person, I’ll talk to anybody, and let anybody know, this is why I did what I did. Anybody’s that’s been a parent has definitely been embarrassed before with their children, and I wanted him to know the extent of the embarrassment I felt.
Did you expect it to travel so widely?
It was meant for only his friends, for his friends to see: my son doesn’t have a car anymore, his father is upset. You guys have to find a new ride, new people to hang out with. It’s my son’s friends that made this thing go viral. That was never my intention. I asked my son if he wanted me to take it down and he said no. He said he wants people to know I’m really trying and I’m going to do this. I want people to see me in a year and say, “I remember that guy that was headed down the wrong road.” He goes, “Dad I want to inspire people the way you’re inspiring parents.” I thought that was just huge coming from an 18-year-old. That’s why I’ve left the posting up. Obviously it’s dong something for people out there, and I feel good it’s had a positive feel for everybody that’s read it.
“IT’S MY SON’S FRIENDS THAT MADE THIS THING GO VIRAL. THAT WAS NEVER MY INTENTION.”
What was the impetus? He skipped work and you’d caught him smoking pot?
We’ve been struggling for the past year, 17 going to 18. “I’m about to turn 18, I can do what I want” type-deal. I told him, You live in my house under my rules, I pay for everything but your car insurance and your gas, and it’s my rules.” I’ve talked to him about it; I told him I didn’t like his friends and the respect they’ve shown. His buddies would come over, and as soon as they hit the driveway, you know, my house, you pull your pants up, you show respect. And they would, but they never came back either. That’s when I started noticing I’ve got some people hanging around my son that I didn’t want him hanging out with. If he’s going to do it, he’s going to do it no matter what I say. We’ve sat him down talk to him, done everything a parent can do in my eyes, as far as taking stuff away or grounding him. Somebody said I would’ve taken his car away for 30 days. I’ve taken his car away for months, and then it’s back to the same deal. So the embarrassment in public, I had to find a creative way. You can’t just spank your child in public. I was fearing the repercussions form the public on that end. But he just kept on getting worse as far as the disrespect in the house, not keeping his room clean not doing what we asked.
Did you ever do anything like that? You said your father brought you up well.
Yes I did. That’s why I hold this extremely close to my heart, because my father went through the same thing with me. I wouldn’t necessarily say the same tactics—you’re talking a 30 year difference, technology wasn’t there yet—but it was along the same lines. I tell you what, it did me a world of good. I tell my dad, “If you wouldn’t have done what you did, I don’t know where I’d be, in prison or dead.” I was hanging around a rough bunch of people. Me and my dad were talking about how big this has gotten this weekend. I was like, “Dad I can’t thank you enough. I’m doing the same thing you did for me.” He was like, “I’ve been watching it. The real question you have to ask yourself is where are the friends you were hanging around today.” I said, “Three of them are dead, from drug overdoses, a few are in jail, and some of them straightened up and dead good.” But I’m thankful that I wasn’t one of the ones who ended up dead or in jail because of his teachings.
It’s interesting, because the other story everyone is talking about is this student at Stanford convicted of sexual assault, who got a very lenient sentence. The father wrote a note basically downplaying what he had done, making excuses. Sexual assault is way more serious than not going to work, there’s no comparison, but it just seems like one dad downplaying his son’s behavior and the other holding him accountable for it.
I always told my son from day one, I said, “I will always stand up for you when you’re right. But when you’re wrong, I will be the first one there in your face to tell you to make it right.” Whether it’s an apology, whether it’s a restitution of some sort, whatever it is. I firmly believe if you wrong someone, you have to make that right. Everybody does wrong and makes some sort of mistake in life, but if you right that wrong, you can go to bed at night, no problem. But if you continue to keep making excuses, if I kept making excuses for my son, then I’m no better than what he’s doing, in my opinion.