10 May Andrew Krok – A Retrospective
Today, your humble narrator breaks through the fourth wall for the final time. So long, farewell, auf weidersehen, goodbye.
A little less than three years ago, I walked into this job with next to no experience in the automotive industry. All I had to rely upon was a lifelong admiration for four-wheeled vehicles and a single high school photography class that taught me how to shoot and develop 35mm film. After college, I’d done my fair share of time waiting tables (as most English majors do), and not much else. When I walked into FMU for my interview with Marilynn and OJ, I didn’t quite know what to expect. I was given the job offer a few days later, the night before my cousin’s wedding. I didn’t tell anybody except for my parents, seeing as how I wasn’t about to overshadow my only cousin on her wedding day.
My first day at Fluid MotorUnion, I was shown my desk, the same one I sit at now. I was handed the camera (a Nikon D90 with a 17-55mm f:2.8 shrouded lens), given a rough idea of how to structure blog posts, and I was more or less set free to develop the blog as I saw fit. It was the first time I’d been given control of anything important, to tell you the truth. A lot was riding on this; I saw a unique and share-worthy experience taking place here at Fluid, and I was determined to do my best to show the world just what this business was capable of. Over time, I settled into a pretty solid routine, and the blog took off.
Of course, that wasn’t my doing alone. It never was. It was the combined efforts of every single person in this building, pouring their hearts and souls into what they do and giving me the material to put on this very blog. Everything here is a team effort; sure, OJ may come up with the idea, and Tom might do the welding, and Keller might be the one calling me into the service bay to show me something weird, but without each piece of scaffolding, the bridge would never hold together. Weight needs to be evenly distributed for the structure as a whole to stand up. That’s the way it was, and that’s the way it still is.
To say I’ve been on a journey wouldn’t be doing my tenure justice. This job has opened up pathways for me that I would never have expected. From our 32-hour, nonstop drives to MFest in Las Vegas, to our latest trip to Eurowerks 6 last year, I’ve been able to see more of the automotive aftermarket culture than I ever would have imagined. I’ve become friends with many of the regulars on the StanceWorks forum through the FMU sponsor account, my quotes have ended up in magazine features of FMU cars, and my relationship with the editor of Performance BMW magazine eventually led to my current job freelancing for Total 911 – The Porsche Magazine. Our pictures have ended up on Jalopnik, we’ve had a guest blog on Speedhunters, as well as the aforementioned magazine features for a number of our projects, both ours and those owned by customers. We still have more on the way, as well. Keep your eyes peeled.
Being a part of this team has been one of the greatest honors and privileges that I’ve had in my entire life. I have stared into more welding arcs than I’d like to admit. I’ve hung myself from moving vehicles, inhaled a good deal of exhaust fumes, been showered with sparks and hit by chunks of flying metal. But it was necessary. My job was to provide a unique look into a service and performance fabrication garage that operated on the fringes, blazing trails that hadn’t even been imagined by others. I wanted to give the world a look at Fluid MotorUnion that other places don’t provide, and I’d like to believe that I was successful in those efforts. But again, it wouldn’t have happened if I weren’t surrounded by some of the best and brightest minds in the industry.
I have a secret to admit. I know next to nothing about fabrication, even after three years of working here. The fog of war remains dark and heavy over many portions of the jobs that I’ve seen. My thirst for knowledge has helped to abate the fog and part the clouds to some degree, but there are many topics that I’ve covered that are still difficult for even me to understand. This entire time, most every single blog post I’ve written, I’ve been explaining this work to myself in a way that I — a technical layman — can understand and process. And I’d like to think that’s why the blog has been well received. It’s important to understand that not everybody has a full working knowledge of metal fabrication, water methanol and the like. I’ve always tried to present the work in a language that everybody can get behind, so that nobody is left out in the cold. Well, so long as you speak English, and get my inane references to pop culture.
I feel like I’ve lived a lifetime of experiences during my three-year stint as Media Director of Fluid MotorUnion. I cannot express how grateful I am to FMU for giving me the opportunity to prove myself as a writer and a quasi-embedded journalist. They’re the reason that I’ve decided to pursue automotive journalism for a career. They’re the reason I have writing credits in well-respected automotive publications. They’re the reason I woke up every day, excited for something new. Hell, they’re also the reason my car is still in great condition, despite accumulating almost 100,000 miles over two and a half years of ownership. I would never be where I am currently if it wasn’t for everybody at Fluid MotorUnion, both current and past — OJ, Craig, Marilynn, Marisa, Chris, Marzano, Keller, Zach, Zak, Tom, Kyle, Eastway, Aaron, Luci, Vern and everybody else that I can’t remember at the moment. I can only hope that my contributions to the company have helped them as much as they have helped me.
Okay, enough of my nostalgic bullshit. I know many of you are here for the pictures more than the words, I’ve known that for years, and don’t worry, I’m not going to disappoint. Below, you’ll find 48 of my favorite shots that I’ve taken during my stead as Media Director, a title that, admittedly, I made up myself. Sounds good, though, doesn’t it? Of course it does; I came up with it.
Once again, thank you to everybody. To the readers, to the commenters, to every single person I work with on a daily basis. I will miss you all. But don’t worry, I won’t be too far gone. If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I never get too far away from the things I care about deeply.
Have an utterly fantastic day, and I’ll see you all around.