Honestly, I cannot imagine how it happened.
In my last editorial, I described the great joy to be had, fobbing off a bunch of crusty old British car parts on a co-worker. Somehow, in spite of changing his name in the article, Kevin figured out I was talking about him. So he sent me a letter:
Dear Robert, I read with interest your recent article about how you “duped” me into taking a bunch of old British junk off your hands – a sneaky trick played on one your employees to rid yourself of a barn full of useless stuff. Well I’m here to announce that the joke is on you pal! Because while you may think you found a sucker for your junk, and while you’re feeling relieved to be out from under the burden of so much grease, sheet metal and cast iron, I’m seeing things a little bit differently: Yes, it did take a utility trailer and a backhoe to collect all the bits (not to mention needing to burn my clothes afterward), but have you considered what that TR4 project means to me? It means a chance to connect to the past. (After all, the TR4 is an honest-to-goodness Michelotti designed, British engineered throwback to the simpler world my father tore around in as a youngster!) It also means the promise of some quality shop time with my own young son, using our hands and our brains to problem-solve, finding ways to get creative, and to encourage him to set aside that infernal iPad and actually build something real. It means the enjoyment of researching questions, talking with other TR4 owners and of feeling a part of something more meaningful than the mind-numbing time suck that is today’s social media. In short, that dusty and useless sack of rust you were so eager to get rid of yesterday, is today transformed into the exciting promise of many good times to come. Because, in the process of my breathing new life into that TR4, I know that it’s going to return the favor.
–Kevin (Mr. Ebbinflow)
I stopped evolving before the age of social media, but this note resonates with me because I have seen what he describes playing out on message boards. The nervous newbie, trying to learn, commits the cardinal sin of posting the wrong question in the wrong forum. Are they taken by the hand and shown the light? Not always. While the little British car community is fortunate to have some terrific message boards, with really helpful members, there are also plenty of places where your “welcome aboard” turns out to be some insulting comment about using the search function. In these unfortunate circumstances, it seems as though some of the members want to keep the hobby to themselves, out behind the barn, and hidden under a tarp. If you think about it, for the last 25 years that’s what I was doing with my TR4 project. There sat the answer to someone’s question. There sat a potential answer to “Why don’t the kids respond when I ‘friend’ them on
There sat the answer to someone’s question. There sat a potential answer to “Why don’t the kids respond when I ‘friend’ them on facetwitagram?” It can be very difficult to move beyond the concept of ownership as asset, into the realm of ownership as opportunity. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I was given a great gift, a chance to pay forward with “junk.” To the next owner in line, or as a possible means of connecting with the kids, it’s treasure. Employ your treasure. Don’t just sit on it.
By Robert Goldman