People Who Get Stuff Done: Part 1
Okay, this is the first in a series of people who get stuff done on a day-to-day basis. We can discuss lofty ideas all day every day, but then there is the stuff of daily living. It’s not glamorous. It’s not even cute. It’s the everyday grind and that is needed as much as discussions of lofty ideas.
That guy right there to the left, that guy, he’s my middle brother, S. E. Gibson, Jr. He is affectionately known as “Pickle.” Yes, his nickname is Pickle. I gave him that name before he was even born. When Momma was close to her due date, I asked that she named the baby, Pickle Gibson. She assured me that she would. When she brought him home from the hospital, I was so happy. He was a brand new baby and one that I’d named. Of course, Momma didn’t name him that, but she said he had a long pickle head anyway. So, it stuck — much to his chagrin. Somebody once put it in the local newspaper that he was “Pickle Gibson.”
In addition to being a beloved brother with an odd nickname, he is also my pro bono mechanic. Let me tell you that I CAN’T DO ANYTHING WITH MY HANDS EXCEPT TYPE, GRADE PAPERS, AND COOK! When I get into my garage, turn the key, and the car doesn’t crank, I simply go back inside and call Pickle. With no fancy diagnostic tool and not much fancy equipment, he manages to diagnose and fix most of what’s wrong.
Pickle has been interested in cars since the age of 8. He spent much time with my aunt’s husband, Clifton, just rambling around cars. We also have a beloved uncle, Kenneth, my mother’s baby brother, who is an avid car collector, who piqued his interest in classic car bodies.
When he went to high school at Wilkinson County High School, S. E. Jr. enrolled in the school’s vocational program and focused on auto-mechanics and welding. Under the leadership of Mr. Eric Stewman, he learned the ins and outs of a car — from the tires to the motors. As a student at Mississippi State University, he majored in Industrial Technology, further honing his skills in hands-on trades such as: welding, ceramics, machinery, and even electrical wiring. In addition, the major introduced him to finances, diverse working environments, effective manufacturing techniques, and procurement. He minored in general business administration.
After college, Pickle’s interest in cars never died, though he does have a regular 9-to-5. He first began fixing people’s little ailments. When he secured a home with a detached shop, he began upgrades and total engine rebuilds.
While he prefers NOT to work behind other mechanics any more, Pickle can build cars from the ground. His welding skills, learned at the WCHS Vocational Center, allows him to purchase cars without floors even. He can weld the floors in himself. In fact he says that he prefers cars that way now.
The Monte Carlo is his toy, but he does classic car restorations for others as well. Here’s a classic car that belongs to a former colleague of mine. She left the car in the care of a family member who left it to the elements. Pickle drove to her house to look at it and declared it a jewel!
It may not be much to us, but to Pickle, it was the most beautiful car he had ever seen. Many people visit to shop to see a veritable “land boat” (it’s what people call it). As children of the 80s and 90s, we never saw a car that big outside of an occasional throw-back episode of Batman.
Now, on any given Saturday, I’m sleeping in. But my brother rises early, and goes to the junk yard, looking for rare car bodies and car parts. It is not a glamorous job, but it earns my brother and his family a beautiful living and saves me money. My only regret is that I haven’t hit the lottery yet in order to give Pickle a hundred grand to strike out on his own. Not only does he rebuild cars, he also rebuilds classic motors and trucks.
Unfortunately, my brother does not do any exterior work (though I wish he would). He sticks to motor work. I want a classic car of my own (Recall: the interview with Montra Banks in the story “Cutlass, Monte Carlos, and Regals, Man”), and I do not have to worry about someone overcharging me and half-doing the work. I have my middle brother, Pickle, who does good work with his hands and charges a fair price.
If you are interested in this kind of work, I suggest first enrolling in your high school vocational center. If you are interested in an Industrial Technology degree, you must attend an Agricultural & Mechanical or an Agricultural and Technology designated university. Every state has at least one. These kinds of majors are not available at liberal arts institutions. I also suggest attending a university, where you will learn the business side of trade.