Monday, December 24, 2018

Keeping a Promise


Mama told me a while back how much she enjoys reading my blogs.  However, she said that all of my blogs read,  “I had a wonderful father who I loved dearly but my Mama was a hateful bitch.”  For those of you that know my mother, you can hear her saying that and realize how funny it is.  It’s also not true at all. 

Mama and Deddy always made Christmas special.  Even during times when they were struggling, they made sure that Travis and I had a wonderful Christmas.  I can look back at certain years and I realize just how blessed we were.  During one of the most difficult times of their life, we got an Atari for Christmas.  We were two of the first kids to have an Atari and it wasn’t until the next Christmas that EVERYBODY got one.  Mama also used to always make sure we got things that were unique.  She has bought us multiple musical instruments over the years and we can’t play any of them!  Well, Travis can play a guitar for “Guitar Hero” on Nintendo, but he did not learn it until he was grown and I’m not sure if I’m proud of him, or ashamed.  She would get us unique books, things to put in our rooms, matching clothes, and all sorts of other things that made Christmas special.

Three years ago, Mama was battling cancer.  She was going through chemotherapy and radiation at the same time.   It was physically and emotionally draining.  That was a hard Christmas but we made it through.  Now, in our family, we know that Mama can be stubborn about some things.  So, during her treatment, I always went with her on the hard days.  She might argue with Travis and she might argue with her sister, Libby.  However, she was not going to argue with me.  She laughs now about the fact that when she was depressed, tired, or feeling defeated, that I did not want to hear it.  And I didn’t.  But that cuts both ways and if I ever face a challenging medical situation, Mama would never allow me to give up without a fight.  Her support would be the same as always, encouraging and reassuring that God has a plan and that one should take advantage of every opportunity that is available when battling an illness. 

I think that at this time of the year, we all look back and reflect on all we have to be grateful for.  I cannot express the gratitude that I have for the doctors, nurses, and medical staff at the UNC Lineberger Cancer Center for helping Mama overcome cancer.  Everyone was so helpful, encouraging and optimistic when treating Mama.  Our society has a distorted view of what is really important and merit is often based simply on popularity.  But the true heroes in this world work at places like the Lineberger Cancer Center.  They were the “Justice League” to our family when we really needed them and I will always appreciate that.

This year will be the 19th Christmas that Deddy has not been here.  We all miss him, especially at this time of the year.  He truly was Father Christmas.  But Mama deserves the same credit for making Christmas such a wonderful time of the year.  The decorations in our home were always beautiful.  The candy she made for so many years was always great.  Mama and Deddy made every effort to get us the things we wanted while reminding us to be grateful for everything.  Everything they did for us at Christmas gave us a whole lot more than just gifts and presents.  It gave us the memories that we will cherish for the rest of our lives.   Tonight I will do the same thing that I have done for my entire life.  I will spend Christmas with my family to make new memories that will last forever.  On my way home tonight around 11:00, I’ll drive by Barbecue Church and visit Deddy’s grave.  I’ll make sure his tree is still lit and wonder if he can hear me when I’m talking.  I’ll talk to him about a number of things.  As always, I’ll let him know that Mama is ok.  And most of all, I’ll assure him I’m keeping my promise……he will understand.

May God Bless all of you and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!! 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

So Much to Be Grateful For



One of my favorite movies is “The Book of Eli.”  In the movie, a young lady named Solara asks Eli what the world was like before nuclear war and he responded:

“People had more than they needed. We had no idea what was precious and what wasn’t. We threw away things people kill each other for now.”

In the movie, things like gloves, scarves and hotel shampoo are valuable commodities.  Water is more valuable than anything.  I know for most of us, the thought of a world like that is inconceivable.  We all have so much to be grateful for, yet it’s so easy to forget our blessings and let the stress of everyday life overwhelm us. It’s sad to think that we live in a world that has so much abundance but still have people who are hungry, homeless, and sometimes destitute.   

I was working with a friend of mine a few years ago and we were leaving work at the end of the day.  I rolled down my window and handed a guy some money at an off-ramp. The gentleman with me asked if I did that all the time and I responded, “No.”   Somewhat perplexed, he then asked me why I did it sometimes, but not others.  I told him that sometimes I feel led to do it, and sometimes I do not.  That's just the truth and it was good enough for him.             
 
I think society has created a world that often makes responsibility irrelevant and causes us to believe that some things are important when they really are not.  Many people will put the importance of a cell phone, a bad habit, or an inflated image over things that truly matter.  I think that in the end, when a person has wasted much of their life on things that really do not matter, the most significant feeling they leave this world with, is regret.

I have always been a grateful person.  That is how I was raised and I am glad l that I was taught to appreciate whatever I have.  Challenging circumstances can also put a person in a situation that is very difficult to overcome. I realize that sometimes it may be a person’s own fault.  But you don’t always know what someone has really been through. In a world where families are becoming smaller, I think in the years to come people will not have near as many loved ones to rely on as they get older.

I have so many great memories of spending the holidays with my family and friends and I’ll always be grateful just for that.  As time moves forward and some of those people have passed away, I appreciate those memories even more.  I have said the prayer before we eat in the Brafford family since I was about 12 years old.   One never knows when the Holy Spirit will overwhelm you.  For me, it comes fast and it comes furious.  I was in total control last year when we started the blessing and 10 seconds later, it really hit me that Mema Brafford was not there.  It was all I could do to get through the prayer without completely losing it. 

This Thanksgiving, take the time to appreciate the people you care about.  Keep your family and friends in mind that are going through challenges.  North Carolina was devastated by hurricanes and flooding this year and many of those people are still recovering.  Keep all of those people in your thoughts and prayers.  I think in a world that is often moving faster than we can keep up, we all need to take the time to be grateful for all of our blessings. 

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!!!


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

I Do Not Welcome the Great Pumpkin!!!!





Personally, I’m not a fan of the scary part of Halloween.  I don’t like haunted houses, ghosts, demons, horror movies or the dark.  Unlike Linus, I do NOT want to see the Great Pumpkin.  But here are a few ghost stories from my own family that I thought some of you would enjoy.

Ironically, the first story involves me when I was a baby. When Mama found out she was pregnant with me, my Great Grandfather Cameron was one of the most excited family members.  He was waiting on my arrival with great anticipation.  However, in October 1972, he died of a massive heart attack.  I was born just a few months later in December.  A few days after they brought me home, Mama got up to check on me during the night and make sure I was ok.  When she walked into the room, she saw my Great Grandfather and another women just standing there peacefully looking at me.  Well, she went back to bed and wondered if she was dreaming or possibly crazy.  The next day, she was telling about what had happened.  Of course, everyone thought it was funny and it turned into a big joke.  However, when she told Mema Brafford about what she saw, Mema asked her what the lady she saw had on.  Mama described her outfit in great detail.  Several years before Mama and Deddy ever dated, his Grandma Brafford passed away.  She was a tough woman in her life but she loved her family and especially her grandchildren.  When Mama described what the lady had on, Mema Brafford immediately realized that it was the outfit that Grandma Brafford was buried in.  You see, before they both passed away, Grandma Brafford had been very good friends with my Grandfather Cameron.  All the sudden, the story was no longer just a joke.

Another story occurred when my Mema Brafford was staying with her brother many years ago as he was in his final days.  He had acquired cancer and it was only a matter of time before he passed away.  She was sleeping on his couch and she woke up to the room being lit as if someone had turned on a bright light.  Her father and one of her sisters walked through the room into Herman’s room.  A few minutes later, her mother and another sister walked into the same room.  She said that the room looked like it had the brightest lights she had ever seen coming out of it.  She did not move because she did not know what in the world to do.  The next morning, she did not mention it to Herman.  However, he did.  He told her about the family coming to see him the night before.  They told him they would be back very soon to take him home and to not be afraid, everything would be alright. He said they would return in the form of a white dove to take him home.  Herman died within just a few days.   In my family, if you tell something like that, you are probably going to get laughed at and Uncle Boyd is going to make about 50 jokes about it.  So, she only told Mama and Deddy.  After the funeral, everyone was gathered at Mema Brafford’s house and just talking about Herman and that everything had been handled very respectfully.  Someone started talking and said that the strangest thing had happened that day.  When the hearse pulled out of the parking lot at the funeral home, a white dove got behind it and flew back and forth all the way out to the church.  When the hearse pulled into the parking lot, the dove flew off.  In case you’re keeping score, that would be when Herman went home.

The year that Deddy was sick, several strange things happened that we just could not explain.  I remember a few months after he come home.  He said that after he had his surgery in Chapel Hill and it was not successful, for the next 3 days, he felt the presence of true evil in the room with him.  He felt like the presence was making every effort to make him bitter and angry.  But after 3 days, he made his mind up that although he was disappointed, he was going to make the most of whatever time he had left.   In the last few months he was here, we witnessed a number of unusual things.  One time he was laying in the bed and looking up and smiling.  Mama asked him what he was looking at and he waved and pointed as if he was pointing to the top of a mountain and said,  “See all of those people, they are waiting on me to come up there.”    A few weeks later, he would be waving at people that were much closer.  The last week, they were in the room.  He did not make an issue about it.  He seemed to think that we could see the same thing that he was seeing.  Just a few days before he died, I was helping him up by pulling on his right arm.   He reached straight out with his left arm and said, “Help me up Harold!” and he kind of laughed as if “what is Harold thinking just sitting there doing nothing!”   The irony is that Harold was his Uncle, who had died a few months earlier.   At the end of Mema Brafford’s life, I called Mama and Travis and told them that they needed to come up to the Assisted Living facility that she was in.  When Mama got there she was really happy that Mama had come and said, “Hey Brenda, so good to see you.”  Mama responded that it was good to see her too.  Mema said “Bob’s here too!”, which caused Mama to get a little upset and she said, “Well that is good Mema, but I can’t see him.”    That somewhat aggravated Mema who responded, “Yes you can! He’s standing right there!” and she pointed. 

My brother Travis has two children, Colton and Brooklyn.  They are both great kids and they know that Uncle Robbie is #1!   Well, Brooklyn hit Colton one night and did not hurt him, but Travis was trying to teach her a lesson.  So, he punished her with the dreaded, “Timeout.”   Travis said she was screaming as if he was beating her with a cane from the Philippines.  All of the sudden, the phone rang and "499-9750" came up on caller ID.  Travis answered it, no noise at all.  He called it back, “this number is no longer in service.”  Ironically, for probably 30 years, Deddy’s office number had been 499-9750.  Guess what?  Timeout was over.

Happy Halloween to all of you and I hope all the children stay safe and get plenty of candy to eat!!!!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

One Nation Under God





“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

How did we get to the where we are in America?  How did we become so angry, aggravated, and intolerant of each other? When did we dismiss “one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for ALL?”  I don’t know when it happened, but I can tell you that I don’t like the fact that so many people have forgotten it. 

I believe in my own 80/20 rule.  I think 80% of us from every different category you can imagine can get along and at the very least, be respectful of each other.  However, I believe that 20% of every categorical group is going to hate everybody that is not like them until the end of the time.  The real problem is that the 20% of each group is usually louder than the 80% of us that can respect others, even when we may not agree with them.  On 9/11/2001, America was attacked by a force of evil.  Immediately after that, we were united as one nation under God.  Everybody was proud to be an American, proud to live in the United States and was genuinely concerned about each other.  When you look around at the dissension that goes on daily now, our unity seems like a million years ago.

As school starts back each year, I always remember the teachers that were dedicated to giving me the education that I needed to get through life.  I didn’t always like some of the work it took to get through school, but I respected the fact that it was what was best for me.  Our education system in the United States is falling apart in a lot of areas.  I believe that much of the reason for educational deterioration is that many kids are no longer taught to be respectful.  When a child is growing up in an environment that does not teach them to be determined and committed to their education, they are probably not going to care.  That is another problem that I see with society today, many people do not consider the best decisions they can make for their future.  They only consider what they need to do today, just to get by. 

               I was blessed with a wonderful mother and father.  They gave me direction, taught me to be respectful and gave me rules to live by.  Not one time in my life did I ever hear my parents support something only for political reasons.  They made decisions based on what they thought was right. Because at the end of our life, when the decisions we made truly matter, there will only be one way we are going to be saved. And I hate to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I can assure you, being saved will not have anything to do with a political party.      
          
               I grew up on a small, private dirt road named Boyd Brafford Dr, after my grandfather.  Down that road we were free to play, ride bikes, visit grandparents, and not worry about many of the evils that the world faces today.  We walked about a quarter of a mile to the bus stop all of our lives by ourselves and we never had one issue.  That will always be home to me.  Every time I ride down that road, I think about so many wonderful memories and how grateful I am for my childhood.  But I also remember the lessons I was taught about respect, appreciation, and honor.  Long before a song made it famous, I was taught that no matter what, always be humble and kind. 

               Today marks 18 years since Deddy passed away.  Ironically, we are having one of the strongest hurricanes that we have had in many years.  There is an old Chinese proverb that says, “When the roots are deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.”  I think as Florence passes through and damages start to be assessed, we’ll all see the good in people come to fruition. Family, friends, neighbors and strangers will come to the aid of others in need.  Lives will be saved, trees will be cut from houses and roads, linemen and emergency crews will work incredibly long hours for weeks and most of all, compassion will prevail over strife.  It’s a shame that society often needs a tragedy to remind all of us of how much we need each other.  I think we can all agree that if the world we live in today would put forth more effort into helping one another and less effort into finding reasons to hate each other, it would be better for everyone.  I think there are a lot of lessons that need to be learned in the world today, but we have to be willing to listen to one another in a reasonable way.  One of the most significant reasons I miss my father so much is that he was always was a voice of reason.  He was the one person I could always turn to during a difficult time.  As I have gotten older, I have grown to appreciate that even more.  No matter where I go in this world, home always leads me back to Boyd Brafford Dr.

               I wish all of you the very best as Hurricane Florence rips through North Carolina.  I pray that all of you stay safe over the next several days.  As always, we will get through this together and I am certain that compassion and empathy will prevail, and that is an America that we can all be proud of.  #Keepthefaith #BraffordStrong #Krobsworld #Robbiebrafford 

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Every Cut He Made and Every Nail He Hammered

              


              It’s hard to believe that today is the 18th Father’s Day that Deddy has been passed away.  He was the best father that Travis or I could have ever asked for and I am grateful for everything he ever did in our lives. I loved him, but I also respected him.  He was always there when I needed him, but he also demanded that I followed the rules of life and stayed out of trouble. I was staying with David O’Quinn one night many years ago and that usually meant police helicopters would be hovering above their house the whole time.  His buddy Troy decided we should go sneak into the Lillington swimming pool.  I told Troy there was no way in the world that I was going to do that.  I explained to Troy that the idea of doing that didn’t bother me at all.  However, the idea of getting caught and having to confront my father, DID bother me.  He kind of chuckled and implied that dealing with my father would not be so difficult.  That’s when David interjected….”Troy, do you know what Grizzly Adams looks like?”  Troy indicated that he did.  David responded by saying…..  “Imagine him, on crack, and infuriated.  That would be his Deddy if Robbie got caught.  As a matter of fact, I don’t want to do it now either because I don’t want Bob mad at ME.” 

                That was my father.  Although he was one of the nicest people that ever lived, he was respected by everyone that knew him. When he walked in a room, without even trying, his presence commanded respect.  All my friends thought a lot of him.  They enjoyed the funny things he said and his general interpretation of the world.  He had the ability to insult you in some way, but before you could get mad, he would follow it up with a compliment.  Heck, he did it to me a lot!  The first time he ever met one of my best friends in college, Russell Moore, his introductory line was…. “Damn boy, your Mama don’t feed you much does she!”  Russell laughed and loved Deddy from that moment on.

                He did many things for others in life.  A guy I know said Deddy loaned him the money to buy the land his home was on.  He told Deddy about a piece of land that he had found but he could not afford the home and the land right away.  Deddy told him to come back in a few days and he would see what he could do.  When the gentleman returned, Deddy handed him a check and told him to pay him back as he could. No contract, no paperwork, just a handshake.  Within a few years, he paid Deddy back, but he has appreciated it forever.

                He was also one of the most forgiving people I have ever known.  He just thought that everyone deserved a second chance and he often gave people many chances.  Over the years, several guys that worked with him got into trouble in various ways and went to jail for a while.  He would visit them, give them money, and take them things like cigarettes if it was allowed.  I asked him one day why he did that, and he said too many people think that a similar situation could not happen to them.  However, you just never know.  He said that when someone is in such a difficult situation, the right thing to do is to extend them a hand of friendship and let them know that someone hopes the best for them.  He would not justify any crime they committed, but he encourage them to learn from their mistakes.  Forgiveness is a trait that I am still working on to be a better person.

                 I think for many of his family and friends, my father’s life was a collection of stories that became wonderful memories when he died.  One of Gwen’s favorite stories is pulling through a drive thru window and Deddy ordering a “sack of cheeseburgers.”  When the guy asked him how many cheeseburgers that would be, Deddy told him as many as he could fit in one bag!  Uncle Boyd was with him one time and he was supposed to be on a diet.  He got a cheeseburger on the way and he stopped and got another one coming home.  Then he told Uncle Boyd that he better not say a word to Mama!  Marshall had to get his truck painted one time after a wreck.  Deddy told him where to take his truck to get it fixed.  When Marshall went to pick up the truck, it had new rims on it.  When Marshall told the owner that those were not his rims, the man replied; “Yes they are, that’s your graduation present from your Uncle Bob.”   Giving gifts to the elderly at Christmas, going to races with his brothers and friends, some of the “pep talks” he gave us playing Little League, raising money for people in need, and just being there whenever anyone needed him are all terrific memories of Deddy that his family and friends will cherish forever.

                As my life races by, I have come to appreciate even the smallest blessings.  A few years ago, my Aunt Libby called me and asked me if I wanted the swing on her porch.  She then explained to me something that I did not know, that Deddy had made the swing.  There are many reasons that swing means so much to me now.  He made it during one of the most difficult times in his life.  It was the early 80’s and the economy was terrible.  His truck had blown a motor, our house had burned down, and it was hard to find any work at all.  We were living with my Great Grandparents in a 2 bedroom, one bath house.  I slept on the big couch and Travis slept on the loveseat.  To have something to do in the evenings, Deddy wired up one of my Great Papa Ferrell’s barns and started making all kinds of woodworks.  That Christmas, he made a lot of presents that we gave to family and friends. There are stools, benches, lantern holders, and quilt trunks that my family still owns as a result of his handiwork, and now, I have the swing.  I can see every cut he made and every nail he hammered.  I worked on it for a while sanding it, making small repairs, and finally painting it.  The swing now sits on my porch and looks great.  Anyone can go somewhere tomorrow and buy a new swing.  That swing can sit on your porch and look great.  But you’ll never appreciate it as much as the one I have now.  During one of the most difficult periods of his life, he chose to spend his spare time making things for other people.

      I think we often get caught up in the hectic and frantic pace of life and we forget to appreciate what we already have.  Deddy was not like that.  I think he had enough challenges in life that when things started to improve, he appreciated everything that life had to offer.  It is one of the most valuable lessons I ever learned from him and I really am a very grateful person.

      I miss my father as much now as I did the week he died.  I know nobody truly realizes just how much I still miss him.  There have been so many times that I would have given anything to ask him for advice.  I am told all the time that I look a lot like my father.  I realize that much of the reason for that is that people will always remember Deddy being the age that I am now because he died so young.  Although his time on Earth was short, the impact he made was truly a blessing for so many people.  I can only hope that I can do enough good in the world that I’ll be remembered the same way. 
    

Thursday, January 18, 2018

$22 Million...... $6 at a Time



As I reflect on the work I have done during my career, I can honestly say that I really enjoyed building custom homes and selling real estate.  The process was meticulous, stressful, and required a lot of attention to detail.  As a General Contractor, it’s imperative to be able to communicate effectively with different types of people.  You talk to people with a specific skill or trade like painters, brick masons, and electricians.  In addition, you also communicate with many others who are critical in the building process like appraisers, surveyors, attorneys, and bankers.  An essential step while building homes is addressing the needs of the buyer during the process.  At the end of the project, however, your reward is seeing what you have accomplished, handing the keys to the new homeowner, and learning something during the process that will make the next home even better.

I was a 2nd generation builder and I recognized issues with the economy in 2004.  In 2008, all of us in the construction industry were living a nightmare.   There are countless stories of what people did to get through the economic meltdown.   Some guys were old enough to retire, many took other jobs, some just did the best they could, and a lot filed bankruptcy.  Fortunately for me, I found another job with a company named Liberty Tire Recycling.

For the first few years I worked with Liberty, I implemented a software to help improve scheduling and maintenance on virtually every piece of machinery, equipment and rolling stock.  I had very little training in the beginning but was able to figure out the system and utilize it for each facility.  The biggest challenge we had for software was identifying someone at each site that could learn the system and continue with their other responsibilities.  Since it was new, not many people were anxious to learn a new software that would take up some of their time during the work day.  But for those of us that were committed to the project, we made the most of it and got it headed in the right direction.

During my effort with Manager Plus, I met a gentleman named Tom Dupont who also worked with Liberty.  Tom realized that nobody really dictated my schedule or how I went about my job.  However, he noted that I was one of the first people to the site wherever I was working, and I would stay as late as needed.  He talked to me one day and told me that if I ever decided to consider another job within Liberty, he thought sales would be perfect for me.  His logic was that if I put as much time and effort into sales as I did Manager Plus, I would do a great job.
 
After working on Manager Plus for over a year, I realized that it was going to be very difficult to implement the system throughout the company.  We simply did not have commitment from every site to make it work.  Our biggest achievement with Manager Plus was to install schedules throughout the company to improve our efforts for safety.  We were able to get every site up and going within 45 days.  This created a more systematic process of complying to safety standards and keeping our facilities safe.  As I was working on the safety aspect of the system, I started contemplating the possibility of moving into sales.  I contacted Tom Dupont and we discussed the idea.   He initially questioned why I would make that move simply because I was the only employee with Liberty that comprehended the functionality of Manager Plus as well as I did.  I explained to him, that I was more accustomed to sales and I was looking for a new challenge.  After meeting with Thomas Womble, it was agreed that I would need to transition out of Manager Plus because people would still need help while they searched for someone to replace me.

I made the transition into sales in October 2012 and was given a nominal salary for 3 months.  After that, I was 100% commission.  So essentially, whether I was financially successful or not was completely up to me.  I was given a goal for the first year to achieve $800,000 in sales.  If I could get to $1,000,000 the first year, that would be above and beyond what was expected.  The beginning was slow for sure, and the fact that I started in November was also challenging because traditionally, tire sales slow down during the holidays.  I was dedicated, I lived on the road, and I was committed to a consistent, focused plan.  I devised my own method of sales that I called “Spider Web Marketing” and by the third month, it was already working.  My first year, I produced $4,200,000 in sales. That’s a lot of tires especially when you consider it was earned $6 at a time. 

My second year rolled around and we discussed establishing goals again.  I was told that my first year was probably an anomaly and it would be difficult, if not impossible to reach this mark again.  In the same conversation, I was told if I could do $2 million the company would be satisfied.  I produced $4.4 million my second year, $4.5 million my 3rd, and $4.8 million my 4th year.   A few months ago, I surpassed $22 million in sales production. 

When working in sales, there are a lot of flights, a lot of hotel rooms, and a lot of rental cars.  I have met a lot of friendly people @SouthwestAir.  I have always gotten the best customer service from them and they have made every effort to get me where I’m going during challenging travel days. I also appreciate the fact that their staff is always friendly and attentive to their passengers. I have stayed @Marriott hotels a LOT!  They actually play a trumpet when I walk into one of their hotels, put a robe around me and hand me a scepter.   But one of the sacrifices of this business is that I have spent a lot of time away from home during the last 8 years.  A lot of people think that the life of a traveling salesperson is glamorous and fun all of the time.  However, the reality is that you spend most of your time alone when you are not meeting with potential customers.   In this business, it’s necessary to meet most customers face to face.  Meeting them in person helps to build trust and foster a positive working relationship.   As I have traveled, I have met a lot of interesting people.  I have met some really smart entrepreneurs that have been incredibly successful.   I have seen numerous business models, some successful, and some not so much.  I have seen what works, and I have seen what does not.  I often talk to people and I can tell from their lack of enthusiasm and dedication, that they will probably not be in business for very long.  Then I’ve also talked to guys that are constantly considering ways to evolve and continue a prosperous business.  Honestly, the used tire industry is no different than any other industry in that, the best and the brightest will survive and be profitable in the years to come.

I have been grateful for this job and I have made every effort to make the most of it.  I’ve missed a lot of personal time with my family and friends by being away from home so much.  I’ve had to miss school programs, ball games, and time with my nieces and nephews. That has definitely been my biggest regret.  But as is the case with anything, the difference between being exceptional at your job or not, is whether you have commitment, effort, and respect.  I have all three of these attributes and it reflects in the sales I have produced for the company. Most importantly, I respect the fact that customers have options and I’m professional regardless of the choices they make.  

I can say with no reservation that this job has been quite a learning experience.  I believe that with my experience selling used tires, I can sell just about anything.  My philosophy is the same now as it has always been…when it comes to people….everyone has a purpose and deserves respect.  It does not cost anyone one nickel to be respectful and that is the center of my beliefs and why I have earned the respect of many people I have worked with over the years. Now is no different from when I was a builder and selling real estate…..I am always honest with customers even when I tell them something they are not going to like.  In this industry, not everyone believes in my personal philosophy of integrity or honesty.  My ability to adapt to just about any personality has been a real asset in the used tire industry. It requires constant effort, negotiation, addressing the ever-evolving issue of popular tire sizes, coordinating freight, and keeping accounts in order. No matter what it has taken, I have made every effort to meet the needs of my customers over the years and my sales are living proof — $22 million for the company……. $6 at a time.




Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Traditions



               Christmas has always been a wonderful time for our family.  Mama and Deddy always made every effort to make sure each Christmas was special.  Travis and I used to get up on Christmas morning around 3:00 A.M. and we would not go back to bed until the next night.  We spent time with our families, shared meals together, played with whatever we got and just had a great time every Christmas.

                Each year we would go to Mema and Papa Cameron’s on Christmas Eve. My cousin Kevin would always be in a rush to get home so he could go to bed.  He was mortified of the possibility that he might be awake when Santa Claus came by.  We would go to Mema and Papa Brafford’s on Christmas morning.  When I was younger, we would also go to my Great Grandparents house on Christmas Day.  There was always a good time and a lot of love everywhere we went.   I am so grateful for the life that I was blessed with.  There was never a time in my childhood that I did not feel unconditionally loved.  But I was also very appreciative of everything. 

                Over the years, things have changed somewhat but we still have traditions.  We still spend Christmas Eve with Mema Cameron.  I made a snowman pencil when I was in the 2nd grade and gave it to Mema.  She still puts that pencil on her tree to this day, 37 years later.  Travis made one about 10 years ago, but she doesn’t really like his as much and puts his on the bottom of the tree in the back. Uncle Boyd’s Christmas Party has become one of things that I look forward to most each year.  The jokes and insults are always in full force at Uncle Boyd’s.  But its always in good fun and everyone enjoys the great camaraderie.  Everyone starts asking about the party months in advance.  I always check with Uncle Sammy to see if we need to modify his rules in any way.   Mema Brafford passed away this year but most of the Brafford’s are going to get together on Christmas morning.  I think Mema would have wanted us to get together.  Travis and I have taken Mama Christmas shopping almost every year since Deddy passed away.  Mama and Travis get me worked up each year and I have a cuss fit.  They actually provoke me to have it because they seem to think its funny and I guess I do too.  I’ve always appreciated the fact that mine and Maria’s families live close together.  We can get to most of our family within 15 minutes, and for us that is a true blessing.  Tonight when we leave Mema Cameron’s, we will head to Mamers to continue celebrating Christmas Eve with the Stewarts.     
                One of the traditions that I truly miss is decorating the house we grew up in.  Travis lives there now and we continued to decorate it until about 10 years ago.  It wasn’t that we didn’t want to do it.  But lack of time just became a problem.  We used to start decorating in October and by the weekend after Thanksgiving, we had the house very bright!  I’ve considered assembling a team and returning Boyd Brafford Drive to Christmas light glory, but we’ll have to give that more thought.
 
                Church has also been an important tradition in my life.  I’ve always loved the decorations and beauty of the church at Christmas.  I know we all love the cantatas, the children’s programs, the outpouring of love and the story of our Savior.  I am humbled by the story of Jesus every time I hear it. 

                As we celebrate Christmas this year, I hope that all of your families are blessed with happiness and peace.  We go through so much during the year, that I think everyone deserves some time to spend together and be with the ones we love.  Just remember, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you;  Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” And that’s what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown.


May God bless all of you and Merry Christmas!