Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Get A Little Mud On The Tires

“…I’ve got the perfect place in mind.  It’s in the middle of nowhere. Only way to get there. You got to get a little mud on the tires…” Brad Paisley Mud On The Tires

I just walked next door to Captain Eddie’s and got a little nostalgic as I looked around. I remember when there was a Fleet gas station where my car lot is now. I’ve been working in this area for decades. I was with Brad and Danny Williams in the early 90’s. There is a CVS where our lot was then. In 1997, My brother Jeff and I started a lot where Landmark is now. In 2005, I started selling real estate with Steve Adams at Re/Max Westside. Our office was just a block down the road. In 2009, Doug and I started Landmark Auto.  All of this has taken place right here near latitude 33.9 and longitude 84.7; better known as Charles Hardy Parkway and Atlanta Hwy.
When I was a lot younger, working at American Tire in Smyrna, I bought a 1959 Ford truck from Tommy Rakestraw. It was a beast of a truck. The oil that didn’t burn would leak out in a month. It smoked and chugged, but I liked it. That was thirty years ago. I was 18. Robert Farmer and I would take turns driving from Powder Springs to the tire store. He didn’t like riding in the old Ford. It had a complete round of play in the steering wheel. Fortunately, it pulled hard to the right so all I had to do to keep it in the road was to keep a constant pull left on the wheel. It was dangerous, but if you had good coordination, you could get it up to 55 or so safely.
I decided to try to find a steering sector for it. I called around the junkyards until I finally found Auto Parts Recycled in Dallas. Ernie Simmons answered the phone and said that he didn’t have one, but his manager, Ken Zeal might have one at home. Turns out, Mr. Zeal was restoring a truck like mine at home and he had some spare parts. I met Ken and picked up the steering sector and we hit it off right away. “What do you do?” He asked.
“Right now I work at American Tire in Smyrna, but I like to keep my options open.” I said.
I originally started in Smyrna, nearly a year earlier. At that time I was working at Tire Town with Ricky and Allen Myres. On one delivery to American Tire, I met Slade Jones and Tony Eubanks and applied for a job there. They hired me on the spot. American Tire was a big move up from Tire Town. And Slade and Tony let me keep a car for sale out on the grass right there on busy, South Cobb Drive.
Ken asked me if I would like a job pulling parts. I don’t know why that appealed to me so much more than tires, but I knew I would gain experience at Auto Parts Recycled. Just how much I gained has blown my mind over the many years since that decision. Just about thirty years ago, I drove out here to Dallas and sat down with Ken Zeal at Auto Parts Recycled. They hired me and I began pulling parts. I bought more tools and quickly moved up to management and moved into the dismantle shop. Where the shop once sat is a muddy tract of land, roughly 400 feet from where I am right now.
I used to get so muddy out at Auto Parts Recycled that I would have to throw clothes away. They were red with mud. The boots I wore were black. When I left that job, I was about to toss them when Daddy said, “Don’t throw them boots away. I want to hang them out there in the shop and when you get older, and have a nice office, I want you to put those muddy boots on display so you can remember where you started.”
I managed to save them up until a year ago when Bill was cleaning out the old shops. He had no idea. I tried to retrieve them from a full 30 yard dumpster, but I was dealing with cancer then and I just let them go. At that moment, they were not a priority and I didn’t feel great. The dumpster got carried off and the boots went with it.
You won't believe this next part.
Amazingly, Interestingly and ironically, while I was writing this note, a guy came and drove one of my cars. It is a 2006 Honda Ridgeline. It was spotless. Poetically, he took it on a test drive and drove into the property where the old junkyard used to be. Where the old dismantle shop used to be. In all my years selling cars, I’ve never seen one get any muddier on a test drive. The boots are gone, but I can go next door and get all the old mud I want. Chris, my potential client, got mud all over my Ridgeline. All over the tires. Authentic, Auto Parts Recycled Mud.
I’ve got that nice office now. Daddy, thank you for the reminder. I won’t forget where I started. How can I? There is mud all over the parking lot.