I wrote the following article for my companies newsletter. I thought I'd share it instead of just rewriting it for you guys. It's a little Reader's Digestish
but I was writing it for a professional company so I had to tone it down a shade.
There are two questions you can expect when you tell someone you're searching for a replica Terracotta warrior. The first, "What's a Terracotta warrior?", and the second being, "What's wrong with you?”. The latter being the far more common response of the two. As you may have already surmised, I've never been one to have what most would consider, "normal", or perhaps even, "healthy", hobbies. I've always enjoyed odd things. Odd facts, odd history, odd items - it doesn't matter. The older and odder the better. By the time I was a teenager I was already looking for a Terracotta warrior but it was really only after I got married that I seriously started the hunt for one, as my wife proved to be a highly enabling ying to my extremely eccentric yang. All this searching lead to a harsh truth - if you wanted a warrior you were looking to China to find one. Something I wasn't willing to do as it would cost a small fortune to get one back to the middle-of-nowhere Missouri. After four long years of looking across the entire continent I lost hope of ever finding one.
It was a random search on Ebay that changed everything. I'd been looking for a gift for my wife when I decided for old times’ sake to search for a warrior. I can only describe the feeling I experienced when the search results came up as stunned wonderment - a feeling that must be similar to what was felt the first time some adventurous soul mixed chocolate and peanut butter. A well traveled retired pharmacist in Ohio was moving and had put his two, (two!
), terracotta warriors up for auction. After a bit of convincing from Nick Brown that we'd actually be able to go and pick the warriors up ourselves, I pulled the trigger and bought them both. This was happening.
That very next week Nick, finding this whole ordeal too weird to not be a part of, my wife, and I gassed up a conversion van and set off on our adventure to Ohio. Twelve hours on the road and one run in with a crazed gas station attendant later (We've taken to calling him Ole’ Stabby) we reached our goal, but something was amiss. Sitting outside to greet us was only one of the warriors. Where was the second? As we began the process of loading up the first warrior while simultaneously trying to avoid multiple catastrophic hernias, I questioned the seller's wife as to where the other warrior was. All I got back was a nervous giggle. Uh-oh
. I pushed the issue and she reluctantly admitted to me that even though I had won both warriors in their auction, they decided to keep the second one for their son who was driving in from Pennsylvania that very morning to pick it up. Oh, I don't think so
. I told her that I hoped her son wasn't going to be too upset that I was taking them both. Again, all I got back was a nervous giggle.
About the same time that we had finished loading up the first warrior the seller returned home. He parroted what his wife said, again saying that their son was coming to pick up the second warrior, my warrior, any minute. "Smiley"
Rhett left the building at that point. I told him I had purchased them, driven twelve hours to pick them up, and that I was leaving with two clay Chinese men laying in the back of my van or I wasn't leaving at all. (This story aside, it's when sentences like that come out of my mouth that I really wonder at what point I completely lost my grip on reality)
The seller folded like a paper bag, yelling at his wife to come show me the second warrior and saying he was going to go call his son. The three of us, wanting to avoid the inevitable slap fight that would have surely ensued had their son shown up while we were still there, quite literally threw
the second warrior in the back of our van and high-tailed it out of Ohio as fast as we legally could. Another twelve hours later we made it back home. Some crazy stars had aligned and I had fulfilled my childhood dream to one day have my very own terracotta warrior. Just as importantly, myself as well as my traveling companions now had a truly once in a lifetime story to tell of three dorks taking a van to Ohio to pick up some clay men.
The warrior's names are as follows,
Wei Nitu Han Qǐyuán Cóng YungKeng (though we just call him the General)
Translation: Big Clay Man Originating From Pit Containing TerraCotta Warriors
Translation: China's only dude named Frank.