My friend Paul Barclay used to tell this story about buying his first car. He had been saving up money for awhile, and finally, when he thought he had enough, he road his bike down to Lloyd’s Used Car Lot. His dad new Lloyd, and Paul thought that the guy might give him a deal.

Parking his bike against a fence, Paul started looking in windows.

“Hey,” yelled a gnarled old car salesman. “Stop breathing on the merchandise.”

“Sorry,” said Paul. “I’m here to talk to Lloyd.”

“You’re talking to him,” said Lloyd.

“I want to buy a car,” said Paul.

Lloyd waved the statement off. “We’ll get to that. Whose are you?”

“My name’s Paul.”

“No,” said Lloyd, clearly irritated,  “Whose are you?”

“I’m Paul,” said Paul clearly confused.

Paul said Lloyd got this look in his eye like he was about to hit him, “Who claims you, son?”

“My dad, John Barclay.”

“Oh,” said Lloyd, the man’s face changing all the sudden. “You’re John’s boy. Come right in.”

That day, Paul Barclay drove out of that car lot having learned a big lesson: Knowing whose you are makes all the difference in the world.

Ned Erickson

Author Ned Erickson

Ned is the Founding Director of the Winston-Salem Fellows and the author of four books including the beloved novel, Clay. For more information go to

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