“I’ve been (at Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts) for a little over a year. I started out as a full-time assistant manager, and I recently started out as a part-time parts tech so that I could go to (Colorado Northwestern Community College). Right now I’m getting my associate’s degree in art. I wanted to go into the criminal justice program, but since they stopped doing that, this was the closest I could get. Hopefully, my credits will transfer to another college and I can finish up my law degree there.
“I want to become a law enforcement officer. My goal is to try to get on with a state patrol agency, but eventually I think it would be cool to get on with United States Marshals Office or the FBI.
“We moved to the area a couple years ago. We lived to Grand Junction, but things were pretty pricey and expensive there. My grandmother and my aunt have lived here for quite a few years, so we decided to move up here to be closer to them and have a little bit lower cost of living. My wife is an elementary teacher at East Elementary, and she’s been doing that for about seven or eight years. At first she was working as an aide since there were no positions open, and just last year she got in at East and got her own classroom.
“I like the mountains here. I’ve always liked the mountains. I came to visit my aunt up here quite a few years ago, off and on, and I just love the mountains, I love the trees, I love the weather. Don’t get me wrong, I like the city life and everything, but I like the things that the mountains can bring, like the wildlife and hunting, of course. I’m not really a regular hunter. I’ve been meaning to get back into it for a few years now. My brother recently moved here and works here, as well, and he’s real big on it. He just informed me that ‘Next year, we’re going hunting.’
“I’m into vehicles. It started when I was a kid, right after high school, I got a shot at a five-star Dodge dealership back home and I started learning mechanics that way. It’s not something that I want to do full-time for the rest of my life, but it’s definitely something that I enjoy, getting under the hood of a car and just dinking around. My job is mostly sales of auto parts, things like that. We do tend to get customers who come in to ask questions about different things, either they don’t trust their mechanic or they want to get a second opinion. We try to help them out, but mostly it’s just sales.
“Most of my expertise is from what I have experience putting in myself, but since O’Reilly is a corporate company, we have something we call TeamNET where we can get on and they have ASE certification for parts techs that we can do. Then we have what we call continued education where we’re constantly getting on and taking tests and doing classes so that we know our parts better. Then we know how a standard wet battery is constructed and things like that.
“I’m originally from Chadron, Neb., it’s a little town about 30 minutes from the South Dakota border, about halfway between Rapid City (S.D.) and southwest Nebraska. It’s definitely different here with the terrain and the weather. It’s a lot higher cost of living out here, but I like having the population and options. I grew up in a small town, but I’d rather be in more populated areas where I have more options.
— Interview and photo by Andy Bockelman