the old shop
I had been out of contact with Josh for a few years. He was out in CA and I had been living in CO for a while. We both moved back east and needed to get caught up. He was working with Hank Young and I was at Richmond H-D. I drove down to Atl. in 2002 to check out the shop and see my friend. Josh had a few more tattoos. He had cut off his hair and shaved, but he was the same guy that I had known for years. I met his lovely wife and new born son. Life was good.
The shop was what blew me away. As soon as I walked through the front door, I knew it was the real deal. The showroom was bright and well stocked. The shop was clean and well organized. There were tools to perform any task that you could want and people that knew how to use them. The customers were allowed into the shop, but didn't get in the way. There was a lunch table where the employees sat with the customers to eat. The people who stopped by were treated like friends, not dollar signs. Nobody was punching a time card, but things were getting done. The work was more important than the time that it took to get it done. The quality of work that was performed would determine whether or not the customer would return, not the advertised discounts available if you "act now". They were earning their living through hard work. They were not advertising to bring in a new batch of suckers to rip off. Their best advertisement was still word of mouth. They were building bikes and cars. I was maintaining them. I started to feel like I was just going through the motions at my job.
I still remember feeling like that was the way a shop should be run. I remember feeling like I had to do better when I got back to work.
Flash forward to 2009. The shelves were covered with an inch of dust. What was not covered in dust was covered in mildew or rust. The roof leaked in several places when it rained. There were several places that you could see daylight coming through the doors. Something horrible happened in the bathroom and no one cared enough to clean it up. (Seriously, it looked like someone had shot an alien in there.) A window in the back had a cardboard and duct tape repair that had failed long before I began to move the business north to VA. The paint was faded and peeling on the outside and the inside. The old shop signs on the front of the building were barely legible. The first day that I spent there packing I felt like I was going through a dead man's pockets.
Troy had warned me about the isolated creepiness that the shop had. He spent an afternoon sweeping the floor just to feel better about the space that he was working in. I didn't understand what he was talking about until I got there. It was depressing to just stand in the shop. It was like these parts had been sealed into some sort of great tomb so the hot rod pharaohs could keep building in the afterlife. Or maybe Miss Havisham had been left at the alter there. Whatever happened, I felt bad for the old shop.
Posted by Doug Walker