Dec. 6, 2013
If you take a trip to the mail corridor of the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, it won’t take long to find David Davis’ office. A few signs on the outside will tell you he’s a fan of NASCAR and Jeff Gordon. Then you open his door, and you realize he REALLY likes Jeff Gordon.
“The wine bottle, you can only get it at one store, Kroger of Richmond. Solid porcelain car, that car is solid porcelain. That hood up there, only 50 of them made in the United States," says Davis. “I just like collecting the rest of the stuff just for the fun of it. And for people to come in and see, it’s just something l like to do, something that’s important to me."
He’s been collecting Jeff Gordon memorabilia for over a decade, and his collection contains all kinds of items.
“This scratch ticket, it’s never been scratched, that comes from South Carolina. You can’t find them anywhere else that’s unscratched. My wife, she’s dying to scratch it and I won’t let her.”
Thousands of items that take up his entire office, and the reaction he gets from people is always the same.
“Wow… What is this all about? That’s their first reaction: wow. And then we get talking, and that’s how you get a good conversation going.”
And “conversation” is how the entire collection began. Several years ago, a co-worker, Professor Dana Clyman, would often come to the mailroom feeling stressed. David sensed that stress, and wanted to help calm him down. A Sunday afternoon NASCAR race would provide all the inspiration he needed.
“And I heard people talkin’ about Jeff Gordon, and how much they disliked him. He was this, he was that. And I said, well, if you all are going to dislike him, I’m going to like him… So I bought three pieces. Three little cars. I started it right here on this wall, right here in this spot. He (Mr. Clyman) came down that Monday asking, ‘Where is my mail? I need my mail in my classroom! I need it on time!’ I said, ‘Mr. Clyman, your associate has it.’ He then looked at the items on the wall and said, ‘What’s this about?’ And I started telling him about NASCAR. And it calmed him down.”
But David didn’t stop at three pieces.
“I went out Monday night and bought two more pieces. So I put one out Wednesday morning. He came down Wednesday evening, asking, ‘What’d you do with my mail? Well now, what’s this all about? What do you have today?’ And that went on every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday… He would come down asking, ‘Where’s my mail at? Well, what did you do now? What have you added to it? How’s he (Jeff Gordon) doing?’ It was a good conversation, it calmed him down… Six months later he died and had a massive heart attack, and I’ve just been adding to it ever since. Every time I look at every piece in here, I see Mr. Clyman. It makes me proud to work at Darden to have a professor who’d wake me up to let me know I can help people in other ways than by work.”
For David, the collection in his office provides a place for people to get away, to calm down, relax, and feel better. He wants his office to be a place of enjoyment for everyone.
“Everybody needs a stress relief. To me, this is a stress relief. And I keep telling people if you have something to talk about, need someone to calm you down, come on down. That’s what the mail room is for. Not only for mail and for service, but for a little stress relief. “
It’s a collection that started at a green flag, and puts everyone in victory lane.