When I had the salvage yard I also had a mechanic shop and 24 hour wrecker service running private, commercial, and police calls for the city, state, and sheriff's office. Sometimes added a radiator or paint and body shop to the mix. I handled the problems everywhere, ran almost every emergency call, pulled parts off old cars when we were snowed under.
I am naturally a t-shirt and blue jeans kind of guy, plan to be planted someday wearing the same. It would have been silly to dress any better with my hands on style of running businesses. Winter time I added a denim work shirt with snaps, I was death to buttons, and the cheapest coat or jacket I could find to destroy. Mil-surplus field coat, Carhardt, or Lee jacket since they had to live in a tough environment. My hair and beard were a wee bit bushy, long, and wild although I was a pillar of the community!
As usual with me and my wife running like crazy we had waited till the last minute, a few days before Christmas, to try to find a tree. We had both noticed nice trees on a lot on Bolton so one evening after closing we went there. I hadn't noticed but the lot was ran by the Knights of Columbus or another charity type outfit. Found a nice tree over seven feet tall and asked how much. The man replied any donation was fine. About a thirty-five dollar tree back then and a good cause I donated to all the time anyway with nothing in return so I reached in my pocket and handed him two twenties. "No, no, five dollars is plenty!"
I looked down at my filthy, torn, and greasy clothes with a large hole burned in the coat, looked over to my wife who was clean and neat but buried in a goosedown coat, and looked at my old truck. It was a 454 camper special 3/4 ton, warmed over a bit and would pass anything on the highway but a gas station. It was in top mechanical shape however it didn't look like much after ten years as a farm and work truck.
I looked at the man and grinned, "you don't understand, I look like this because I own a salvage yard, not because I work at one." Gave him the two twenties and left. It was a gorgeous tree before decorating, even nicer trimmed out with ornaments and icecycles in the traditional manner.
I let the help go home early on Christmas Eve to be with their families. It had been a cold miserable week and had warmed up just enough to rain with the rain freezing on everything as it hit so everything you touched wanted to cut you like a razor. I sat at the yard alone huddled in front of the heater the last couple of hours without so much as a phone call and closed on the dot of five o'clock.
With the wrecker service which had ran me ragged with all the bad weather my business lines rolled over to the house when I closed down. Just after six PM I got a call, a man wanted a camper shell he had looked at a few days or week before. I was warming up to give him an appropriate answer concerning what I thought about someone wanting me to interrupt Christmas Eve with my family to sell a camper shell when he explained it was a Christmas present for his son-in-law. He hadn't got off work until five-thirty himself and didn't realize I would be closed. Decision time.
I gave it a minute's thought. It was dangerous to just walk back to where that camper shell was on an old truck and I wasn't fixing to call out one or two of my men to sell a $150 camper shell or anything else after hours on Christmas Eve. On the other hand how many people have a son-in-law they think this much of?
"Come help me pull it and you can get it this evening." He agreed, I met him at the salvage yard. Remember that frozen rain? I hadn't considered that the cap was thoroughly iced to the bed of the truck! Got the ice off, no joy. Somebody had glued the cap to the bed all the way around with weatherstrip adhesive to keep out fumes or road spray. A very good glue but not what I wanted to find now! Long walk back to the office for piano wire, usually used to cut out windshields and back glasses. Another unexpected hour or more with temps in the low to mid-twenties and my hands are looking like I have been in a couple fights with bobcats and lost both! We finally got the shell off and carried it up front. The man was going to add a large tip. It had been a brutal few hours but the man had been with me every minute doing what he could. I just told him I owned the place, my choice to come out, "Merry Christmas!"