When I was a kid one of my favorite songs to fall asleep to was called “my daddy is an auctioneer”. It was not just the light and kid friendly rhythms or the catchy lyrics that made it a favorite. No. It was because my Daddy IS an auctioneer. The auction industry will forever shape my relationship with my father. Today I wanted to honor that. Below is an essay that I wrote several years ago to describe what the auction industry means to me, in reality it was what my father has meant to me. Plus I have included a great video of him at the end so please enjoy.
The Auction Song
A young girl, of an unknown age, sits in a desk at the front of an auditorium. Her legs, too short to touch the ground, swing back and forth beneath her to a rhythm you cannot yet hear. Her hands, without thinking, insert one goldfish after another into her mouth. As you watch the blond haired girl, you follow her gaze to a stage above her. You see only what she sees; only a pair of boots and blue jeans, but then you hear what she is listening to. You hear the song to which she swings her legs and to which her whole memory seams to revolve, you hear the auctions song. And that little girl, whose first memory you just followed, was me fifteen years ago. I can no longer tell if this story is fact or imagining but it is my earliest memory of the rhythm that would drive my childhood and adolescence.
There are four stages of the auction life through which I have lived. The first you just read about, those memories which I do not even truly know from fact or fiction. This stage of mystery is given only to those who are the children of auctioneers, privileged or cursed to a life whose rhythm is often the auction world and whose heartbeat becomes the auction song. The journey of the auctioneer can be broken into many stages and phases but for me there are five that I can remember and have experienced. The first is simply the first memories, clouded in story and dreams, then there is, what I like to call the cuteness stage, where your jobs do not really change the flow of the auction but you are instead introduced gradually to the business and used as an adorable prop to increase prices. The third stage is the watching stage, while you may have jobs to do your main purpose is to observe. This is followed by the student stage, you are given responsibilities and begin to truly assist in the auction. The final stage, so far, is that of the apprentice, you get to apply what you have learned and begin to have large effects on sales and take on real responsibility.
I began working with my father when I was six years old and began the second stage in my life as an auctioneer. The night of my first event I put on my best cloths, including my favorite pair of patent leather shoes, even though they were a few sizes too small I decide to wear them because I want to look my best. I was excited I had been told I would get paid .25 cents an hour, big money to a six year old. I can, to this day, still see the nursing home where the auction was, taste the overcooked spaghetti, and see all of the smiling elderly people looking out at me, at the old folk’s home where the event took place. The event went quickly and without any hitches that I can remember. Afterward my feet hurt and I swore I would never wear shoes that were too small, not that I kept that promise to myself, and I was mad as a get up at my employer, who would not pay me until I figured out exactly how much I should get paid.
As I grew up I was slowly brought to more auction sites to work and watch. I don’t remember exactly how old I was when I entered into, what I think of, as the third stage of my growth in the business but I remember that when I got there I felt a little bored. I was used mostly as a float spotter at the larger events or was sent to the back. While I was technically a bid spotter I was mostly assigned to watch what was going on and would then have to report back at the end of the night what happened. I remember being excited that I got a pay raise, five dollars an hour, but this phase was filled mostly with watching the house staff work and getting sore feet form my shoes which were too small.
Somewhere along the line though, I started to figure it out. I began to see the patterns and was allowed to listen in on client meetings. I began to be given more responsibilities at the auction site, I had entered the fourth stage. This would last until my junior year in high school. I began working most weekends that I did not have school events. I loved all that I was doing. My father and I would have long conversations, and sometimes rants, about the event after it was over while we drove home and would then unwind to a bowl of popcorn and late night tv, usually the red green show. I can remember feeling like I was really getting to know what I was doing and then I was told I needed to go to auction school if I ever wanted to do more than what I was doing then.
So in the summer before my senior year I went to auction school and became a colonel just like my dad. After that summer I was officially given a pay raise and entered the fifth stage of my life as an auctioneer. I was an apprentice. I was finally allowed to start teaching trainings, under the careful watch of my employer and began being the just get it done girl. I began to feel indispensable when an auction went wrong I knew it before anyone else did. My father and I became a working unit. This time in my life was made greater by a growth in our business that changed our services to begin offering professional bid spotters, that was me. I was both learning the ropes of the business and was getting paid a night what I get paid now. I loved what I was doing. There was a rush to being able to answer client questions and to fix what clients thought was broke.
I miss the business now that I am at school in Iowa. I miss the rush of the event and the people I worked with. I miss late night popcorn and I miss my paychecks. I miss having long conversations with my father about the business. I miss the new opportunities that I was just beginning to explore with other companies. I miss the family and I miss the adventure of it. I will be forever grateful for those years that I spent in the business and I will forever live to the rhythm of the auctions song, even if it is not a part of my daily life, it will forever be a sound that my heart beats with.