A while back I was speaking with my older brother who lives in Seattle about my nieces, one who recently became an undergrad student in nursing and the other who aspires to do the same. I was curious why two girls whose mother and father had nothing to do with the nursing profession would gravitate to this vocation. His response was that they had a steady diet of Gray's Anatomy growing up which had thus imprinted itself in their psyches. My brother then went on to explain that Michael J. Fox's character on Family Ties, Alex P. Keaton, had somewhat influenced him to become a financial planner. My parents, who were by no means poor, did face many financial struggles taking care of three rambunctious boys while working full time jobs that didn't pay a whole heck of a lot. My father, I like to joke, was the most honest, worst paid lawyer in the Denver area. My mother was a psychiatric nurse who, I can only assume, used most of her education figuring out how to handle the three boys who were constantly at each other's throat. My older brother was cognizant at a young age of their struggle, enough to make a promise to himself that he would figure out how to save money and never put his family through the stress that our family went through. He was Alex P. Keaton: ever diligent about money, well dressed and pragmatic. You can call him if you want - he's a good financial planner.
What this discussion did for me, however, to spark an interest in what television shows may have influenced my decision to open an automotive repair shop. While I adored The Dukes of Hazzard, I can't say that Uncle Jesse always working on The General was highly influential. I also loved Knight Rider and it's true David Hasselhoff and I could be doppelgangers (his early years obviously!) but he didn't spend much energy wrenching on K.I.T.T. Taxi definitely was part of the television archival cannon, but I really loved Tony and not so much Latka. No, I'm actually going with Lamont from Sanford in Son. He was the voice of reason and sanity, always trying to figure out ways in which to solve problems. Although I'm not necessarily sane, I am Lamont.
A few days after talking with my brother I went on errand to empty out our storage unit in our trusty old truck, nicknamed "punkin" for its stunning mix of color, namely orange and rust. As I drove along in the rusty bucket of bolts with the broken windshield wiper, bent door, sagging window regulator, and the bed jammed full of trash, the realization hit me like a lightening bolt. Suddenly the Sanford and Son theme was playing in my head. I snapped this picture of Punkin in front of our sign and sealed my fate - as Lamont.
While I have offloaded my duties at the shop of running scrap metal to recycling yards and picking up used parts, I still have spent a good share of time at junkyards. When I used to go I always asked myself, "is this really what someone does with a college degree?" But of course the answer is yes, this is what you do, and I actually love it. I'm not sure if when I got into this profession I knew what was in store for me, but in 10 years I've learned a ton. I think back to our early days in business and feel slightly embarrassed by our naivete. But I've made the changes necessary to feel like I've created a good shop with a solid reputation. Hopefully someday there will be a show based on my life, a sort of Sanford and Sons reboot. Maybe David Hasselhoff can play the old coot. Roll credits!