Why you should care

Because sometimes it’s OK to talk to strangers.

In this occasional series, OZY takes to streets and neighborhoods across the globe to ask a simple question: “How was your day?”

Arthur J. Williams Jr.
Car Transporter/Artist
Chicago

Today I woke up around 6 o’clock and made a cup of coffee and worked on my painting. My apartment doubles as my art studio. I’m working on a tree right now; it’s a tree rooted in the earth and part of it is on fire. There’s all kinds of symbolism going on. Looking at it gives me inspiration throughout the day, it helps me to know where I’m headed in life.

Then I headed out to my paying job: transporting cars at United Auto Exchange in Patterson, Illinois. I’ve been transporting cars for United, off and on, since I got out of prison in the summer of 2013 — I served time twice, for counterfeiting charges. United is a wholesaler who buys cars in package deals and then sells them to dealerships. We buy groups of them, usually high-end vehicles like Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Range Rovers, and transport them to dealerships.

I spend my time printing shirts these days, not fake money.

 

These cars are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and I am entrusted with making sure they get to where they need to be safely. It’s a rush to drive them. I feel like I’m in a movie, but I have to be careful. I don’t want to get in an accident. I’ve been lucky so far. Driving the cars allows me to think — it’s the ultimate freedom, driving around in fancy vehicles. You start to really learn the cars. I can get into a Ferrari and listen to the engine and know exactly what is going on with it.

I don’t get paid much, but it’s enough that I can pay my bills and work on my other projects. I’ve got a lot of side projects. I’m working on a screenplay. I also started a clothing line called Julius DaVinci. It’s inspired by my counterfeiting career: We do shirts with monetary themes — a holdover from my criminal pursuits. At the printers, I go over files, designs and shirt production. I spend my time printing shirts these days, not fake money.

At 41, I’m in a real creative zone right now. I had my first showing at Meg Frazier Gallery in Chicago a few months ago. My paintings are getting a lot of attention. My clothing line is coming together. My screenplay is tightening up. I’m meeting the right people to help me further my career in the arts. I’m doing things the right way this time.

If things keep going this way, I won’t be transporting cars much longer. It’s a nice gig — but I want to be in the position to own the cars I drive.

— As told to Seth Ferranti

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Good stories from around the globe. Essays and immersion, into the harrowing, the sweet, the surprising -- the human.