"Derek, how could you make this decision to drop out of high school without consulting me first? You know education is so important...you have just thrown your entire life away, you know that? How are you going to get a decent job now without a diploma?"

Nagging.

Constant, nonstop nagging.

Seventeen year old Derek Wheeler was downright sick, tired, fed up and most importantly, done with it all!

Since the sudden death of his adoptive parents in 1988 courtesy of a drunk driver, this has literally become his life, constantly being nagged upon by his Grandmother Eva day in and day out over any and everything imaginable from music being too loud to not doing basic chores around the house, even when asked multiple times to do them in the first place.

Today, just a mere two hours before heading off to work his scheduled afternoon shift at the garage, he decided to tell his Grandparents that he had officially dropped out of high school simply so that he could make himself more available should his workplace ever need him for extra hours.

Now, he was quickly regretting that decision as he stood there leaning up against the archway that separated the living room from the main hallway, trying extremely hard not to lose his cool!

"Well, maybe I don't want to go to school anymore. Besides, I have a job." Derek retorted, gritting his teeth.

"Derek, do you really want to pump gas for the rest of your life?"

"It's a start, isn't it? Hopefully someday, I can work myself up the ladder to become a mechanic...I'm skillful with vehicles."

"I still don't think it's a suitable job for you...I'm sure your Mother and Father would also disapprove of this if they were here."

'There she goes again, bringing up Mom and Dad.' Derek thought to himself as he rolled his eyes in annoyance.

"Grandma, would you please stop bringing them up every single time?! Seriously, why the hell should they even care what I do with my life...they're dead, remember?! They've been dead now for the past three, going on four years! Get over it...move on already!"

Silence quickly filled the air as Eva Wheeler slowly stood up from her place on the couch and began to approach her very ungrateful and heartless Grandson, clearly struggling to keep all of her emotions in check.

"Derek Michael Wheeler, you can be so damn insensitive at times, you know that? Even through your Mother and Father are no longer with us physically, they are still here with us in spirit! How dare you tell me to stop bringing them up? She was my daughter and son-in-law and I sure as hell know they do still care, even in the afterlife!"

"Oh, please..." Derek scoffed as Eva continued.

"If they were here today however, they would be absolutely disgusted, appalled and utterly devastated with the kind of person you're turning out to be, so horrible and disgraceful! First with the lying, then stealing from your friends...now telling us you simply dropped out of High School when you only had just one more year left to go, just so you can make yourself more available for a job that's not even worth the time or even the money in the first place!"

"That's your opinion, Grandma! You may say it's a job 'not worth the time or money' now, but just you wait until I become a mechanic and really start bringing in the cash. I guarantee you'll probably be singing a different tune by then! I'd better go or I'm gonna be late. Don't wait up...it's a very late shift tonight. Probably won't get home until past midnight, maybe one o' clock tops, that is...if I even decide to go home at all!"

Derek turned to leave, slamming the door shut behind him!

"And will you stop slamming the doors around here?" Eva shrieked.

Once he was outside, he checked his watch before heading down the ramp towards the sidewalk.

Truth be told, he wasn't really late for work for he still had about an hour or so left to go, he just wanted to get the hell out of there and fast!

"Old Bag! Well, it's way too damn early to head off to work just yet. My boss Cliff would be wondering why I'm there so soon. Can't really go over to Snake's or Joey's either for their parents don't think too highly of me anymore...maybe I should have just kept the news to myself for the time being,but then again, she would probably have found out eventually which would make her even more pissed at me for holding it back so long. Ugh, I don't know...I'm just so sick, tired, fed up and done having to constantly listen to her nag on me all the damn time! It's my life, my choice, not hers! If I want to drop out of school, that's my damn business. At least I have a job and getting paid for it. Most high school dropouts don't even have that!"

Letting out a sigh of frustration, Wheels once again checked his watch, then began to make his way down the street towards the nearest bus stop.


After spending the last half hour wandering around Queen Street East and grabbing a slice of pizza, Wheels then began to make his way towards the Orchard Park Auto Repairs Garage for his scheduled shift.

"Hey, Wheeler! How's it going today?" his boss, Cliff Woolner asked as Wheels entered the office door.

"Wish I could say fine...but not really! Got into it with the Old Bag...again!" Wheels replied as he took his time-card and punched it into the clock.

"Oh gee, what about this time around?"

"Earlier this morning, stupid me thought it was a great idea to let my Grandparents know that I had officially dropped out of high school. My grades weren't all that great to begin with and with Degrassi permanently closing their doors, more less forcing all of us to once again start anew at another damn school...who's to say I'll be transferred to a school farthest from where I already live now?! Just coming and going from Degrassi was a chore in itself. Anyway, long story short...my grandmother began to nag on me, as usual, telling me how 'education is so bloody damn important' and of course having to piss me off even further by dragging my long deceased parents into the argument...shaming and degrading me in the process simply for my decision...last I checked, it's my life here, not hers!"

"Damn...that's pretty rough there, son! Wish she could just accept your fate and deal with it rather than make mountains out of miserable little anthills! Hey, I dropped out at your age Wheeler and I turned out alright! Who says you need some lousy piece of paper to make in out there in the real world anyway?"

"Exactly Cliff! I'd rather be out here doing something I actually enjoy doing and getting paid for it rather than sit in some dull, depressing classroom for 45 agonizingly long minutes straight listening to some annoying ass teacher ramble on about things that don't and will never matter to you, or your life!"

Cliff simply nodded as a chime rang out to indicate a customer had just pulled in for some gas.

Without another word, Wheels went out to serve them, filling up their tank and giving their windshield a bit of a clean before sending them on their way with a smile, even through deep down he didn't really feel like smiling at the moment!

"Wheeler, would you like something to drink?" Cliff asked as Wheels reentered the office.

"Sure...what do you got?"

"I've got some cola, root beer, ginger ale, Grape or Orange soda, Tahiti Treat, apple or orange juice, fruit punch or if you want something a little more 'adult', I've just restocked the fridge with some beer!"

"I'll just stick with a can of grape soda for now, Cliff."

"Fair enough. It is a tad bit too early still to start guzzling down on the brewskies just yet. I'll have myself a can of cola...with a shot of vodka of course! There you go!"

"Thanks!"

"No prob. So Wheeler, any reason why did you decided to quit high school? How many years did you have left, if you don't mind me asking?"

"Just the one...I figured by the holiday season, you'll be getting pretty busy with holiday shoppers running around and vehicles constantly malfunctioning due to the change in the weather that you'll probably need an extra hand. Kinda hard for me to do so when I have school priorities as well, so I chose to make myself more available for when and if you needed me...if that's quite alright with you, Cliff?!"

"Smart thinkin' there, boy! We do get pretty darn swamped around here indeed, especially in December! We'll definitely be calling you if we're ever in need of extra hands. I've been meaning to ask you for a while now, how good are you exactly with vehicles?"

"Um, well...I do have some expertise, but not much. Why?"

"That's quite alright, we've got some mechanics here that can take you under their wing and teach you everything there is to know about cars! How's about we get you started today?"

"Really?! Sure...that would be great!"


Throughout the day, Wheels juggled between serving customers and working alongside Cliff and two other on-site mechanics on a Ford Mustang that refused to start, slowly learning the tricks of the mechanic trade.

Before long, it was finally eight in the evening as Wheels finished serving the last and final customer of the day while Cliff went to close up shop.

"Great job today, Wheeler. Listen, you've already got eight hours under your belt now, unfortunately by law we can't really let you work any longer than that due to your age, however if you care to stay and put in some more extra hours, I'll pay you under the table for them. I'm sure you don't really want to go home just yet now, do you?"

"Hell no, Cliff...I don't mind sticking around and helping out a bit more off the clock. In fact, I told my Grandmother I would be working a little bit late tonight anyways...let me go and sign myself out first and I'll be right back!"

"Great...so, any of you guys want a drink?"

"Yeah, sure Cliff! I could certainly go for a brewski right about now!" the one mechanic named Philip replied while wiping his brow of grease and sweat.

"How's about you, Robert? Want one?"

"Count me in, Cliff!"

"Wheeler?"

Now, from the very first day Derek had started working there, his boss had been lightly pressuring him somewhat to start drinking to which he would politely decline every-time, basically telling him that due to what he has been through, he just wasn't interested.

However, with how things have been going on lately with school, his friends, grandparents always being on his case about any and everything, he began to wonder what drinking was actually like.

It couldn't really be all that bad, could it?