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Hagerty Employee

How an "imaginary white boss" made my suburban detailing shop a success

I've told you how my family was known for having clean cars back when I was a kid in Cleveland. My father handed this obsession down to me before I made it into my teens. I could make scratches disappear, clean an engine top to bottom without getting anything electrical wet, put a mirror finish into aluminum parts and make the chrome ones dazzle you.

Necessity is the mother of invention!
New Driver

Refreshing af to see somewhere as white as Hagerty

Sad that this was a necessity but what a clever guy you are, Douglas. And what a great, well-written article.
Intermediate Driver

A powerful story, extremely well told.
Intermediate Driver

More of this content, please. Well done!

I grew up out in the sticks. We were not rich but we got by. 

My first job when I was in school was in a very tough part of town. It was industrial with low income neighborhoods and lots of bars. 

We were a gas station that closed at 6 PM when most of the companies closed. Even then I learned street smarts that still benefit me today. 

Our customers were made up of the local residents and company accounts. This means I could be dealing with someone’s grandmother, gang members, drug dealers, Hells Angels the Chairman of Firestone or BFG and even occasionally a celebrity. 

The bars were one redneck, one lesbian and one drug biker bar. They all got along well. 

I saw federal bust, local arrest. Was in the middle of a surprise stabbing,  some pulled guns. One day I went with a local to bring his car back and was in the middle of a major drug deal. 

We did work for the Hells Angels around the corner and serviced the FBI cars that often were trying to arrest the Angels. 

I became good a good friend of Raymond Riley CEO of Firestone tire, Met Morgan Fairchild and filled gas for Sonny Barger the top Hells Angel.


I was able to stop an attempted rape and hung out with the street people that appeared broke and homeless but most had more money on them than me. 

It was a very diverse group and I found that getting along with most people was easy. You just had to be smart, open minded and know what to say and not to say.


I made a number of good friends of all races and we all held a respect that made it all work. 


It has help me in life to deal with all sorts of people in many situations in other jobs in many applications. 

I wish more people on all sides could have experienced this as we are not all alike and we have many different influences and the more you learn the easier it becomes. 


The key is respect no matter who you are. 

Advanced Driver

That was a lovely piece, sir. Could you please run for President? I am definitely not joking.
I have a friend named Andy. As Bette Midler said of Karen Carpenter (paraphrasing), "He's so white he's almost invisible." Not fair to Andy, or to Ms Carpenter, but I think you get it.
Pit Crew

Excellent story well told.

You are a clever guy, not to mention a fine example of American ingenuity and industry. Pity you have to be. (You write pretty well too).

Very interesting and entertaining read.
Intermediate Driver

Thank you for this, a great and telling story.
Intermediate Driver

Another great story from Hagerty. Congratulations on knowing 80 hours a week is the foundation of success, regardless of the definition of success. Being smart enough to know how to get the money out of their pockets is what makes money infinite, you just have to keep finding the pockets. Don't forget to chuckle every once in while at what you have accomplished regardless of what other think.
Intermediate Driver

Loved this story of old fashioned ingenuity, too much truth in those last 2 sentences.
Intermediate Driver

Great story Douglas (if that is your real name, LOL.)
In fact, I had to read it aloud to my girl and she got a kick out of it, and I could imagine Chris Rock doing this as a skit. I may have even read it in his voice.
We may be about the same age (56.) I grew up white, LMC (lower middle class) in Windsor Canada but hung out more across the river in Detroit. Because my passions were music, let's just say the places I hung out gave me both first and second-hand experience as a minority . I made up a few "teachers" to get me into gigs, and yes, it helped quicken the acceptance into places I really had no business going, but did anyways.
Guess I'm just saying that there are times we all need to step outside of ourselves and adapt to circumstances, more so when we're getting started and finding our way. Still, while it's good you still have Andy's confidence and advice, it's probably good to remember two things: it's actually your advice, and it's well-earned!
Pit Crew

Perfectly fine way to get by. Nothing wrong with it, and nothing unusual, either, even for young white boys, who, believe it or not, aren't automatically trusted either.

The same premise as the old TV show "Remington Steele".

Thank you Douglas for your poignant view of a world most of us have not had to see. I am sorry this would be necessary but am happy that you were cleaver enough to make it happen. Some day, hopefully soon, we will live in a world that is not like this.
Advanced Driver

I absolutely love this story. Well told, well lived.

A few years back I met a high school kid with a brand new STi. I thought, oh boy, here we go, another silver spooned brat. Well this kid was the opposite. He detailed cars in his off time. He was from a well-to-do family so the cars were Ferraris and Porsches and the like. He busted his butt and his knuckles on those cars. I changed my mind about him.

One time he told me about a top speed run he made one night in his STi; he'd hit 170 MPH (according to him!) and he had made the run on "a runway that someone in my family has". Let's just say 'old money' and leave it there. And yet he was learning the value of making an honest dollar. Pretty cool if you ask me.

Sort of the opposite of your story I guess. But I'd put money on you two hitting it off.
Intermediate Driver

Brilliant!! I nominate you to the entrepreneurs hall of fame. Guaranteed 1st ballot shoo in.
Advanced Driver

Woke story is woke. False premise when you consider that most likely Douglas' Auto Detailing would have been able to conduct as much business as Andy's. I think those car enthusiasts were more preoccupied with the quality of your work than the color of your skin. Do yourself a favor and dont make your self a victim. Nothing good comes out of it.
New Driver

I would have to agree. You started a business, worked hard and did a great job. Inspiring story, don't ruin it with the racism stuff, you are no victim. When I was 19 no one was throwing me the keys to their exotic cars and I'm not black, go figure.

Said the white guy…
Those car enthusiasts probably wouldn’t have wanted to give Douglas a try, so he did the “smart” thing to get his foot in the door. You shouldn’t judge if you weren’t in his shoes. Talk is cheap.

Douglas, first of all, you write better than most with a master's degree. Secondly, you deserve one of those big houses more than most of the honkies who were born into them. A terrific story. Thanks for sharing it, and to Hagerty for running it.

"Honkies"?? Really?

Intermediate Driver

I was in school in Columbus from '82-'85 so I understand the place and times.

Being from WV I've had to be "creative" at times in business and social.

You do what you need to do. Society, culture and people are always going to have preconceived ideas, notions and opinions. Trying to change them is pointless (usually) so make the system work for you.

Well done! (and well written)

It is about adapting.  


You can't just go into any situation and expect everyone to just drop how they are or what they are doing to cater to your feelings. 


You show respect and adapt. In time by showing respect you get respect. 


If I had not adapted to where I had worked years ago I would not be here today. 


How you act, talk and carry yourself can make a difference with many crowds and cultures. Where I was at I had so many different ones you had to be on your toes.  


As they say life is simply complicated and those who are successful are often those who learn and adapt to the needs of a situation. 


I later worked in the medical field with terminal patients.  I was able to apply much of what I learned from my past. 


Today I can be dealing with some rude guy from New York or even Istanbul to a the guy that is the head of Edelbrock or a lead engineer of a NASCAR Team. 


Everyone is a bit defect and if you learn how to deal with the differences you will go far. 


But my father taught me well. He was paralyzed in a sports accident. He could have laid back and been a victim. But no he got back on his feet with a brace and two canes and got back to Goodyear tire and retired with 35 years, He taught kids in Church and shared his faith and story with others. I could not count the number of people he helped over the years just because he did not quite. 


He is gone now but I hope what I leave behind will be something he would have been proud of. It is not easy and their will be failures along the way with the victories. But you just have to work for it as nothing is given it has to be earned. 


If you sit back and just play a victim or don't try you are the limiting factor of your future. 

New Driver

Love the story. It’s too bad that you had to do business that way. I’m glad your landlord saw you as a hard working honest man and gave you a hand when you needed it. There are still a lot of good people out there. I don’t see color, I see character. Douglas, I think you and I could be good friends.
Intermediate Driver

Funny how things work out. Nowadays, Andy is pretending to be Douglas. For the government grant money, tax breaks, and "social justice" support.
New Driver

I don't know about your detailing but you sure can write. Great story, thank you.
New Driver

a fine story

dont know anymore about doug other than what he shared in this story but i am pretty sure i like him
New Driver

Great story. I wish we lived in a world where people’s racism (subliminal or overt) didn’t need to be accommodated or circumvented. I hope some day we get there.
New Driver

Thanks for sharing this experience. We like to think a motivated young man wouldn't need to do this any more, but I wonder...
New Driver

Douglas has the freedom to have his own opinion and write about it in a nation as great and free as America. Here is my opinion.
No one with a brain would throw the keys to his exotic machine to a teenager no matter his skin color. White kid would be treated the same way. You are not racist because you are born white.
Douglas can be proud of lies and deception. His choice. Lies and deception get you ahead. Just look at our politicians. I agree with a previous post. He should run for president.
Shame on Hagerty for featuring this story. We are overwhelmed 24/7 in all media that America is rotten and all white people are born racist. We should not have to read about it in Hagerty too. Very disappointed.
Intermediate Driver

Then turn off the damn channel. Nuff said.
Pit Crew

Beautiful story.
Intermediate Driver

Great story and well told Douglas. Anyone who sees this as anything other than brilliant is a fool. They call it dishonest when it should really just be called marketing.
Pit Crew

Great story and good initiative

Great article. I look forward to more.
Pit Crew

I stopped reading when I realized that this whiny teenager drove a new GTI and his mom a new Porsche but my privilege in the same time of life saw me buy an eleven year old MGB with 96K on it (in those days 100K was the kiss of death) and my parents best ride was a 13 year old Cadillac.

Great article, and unfortunately so accurate. Glad it worked for you.
Pit Crew

You're a better man than me, my Brother. As a black man here in Canada, I was exposed to racism but not as much as you folks in the US. Here it's more "underground" if you know what I mean. I could never pull off what you did,,no matter the price. Respect to you and what you did to get by and make a life for yourself.