Feature: Coming full-circle and surviving coronavirus.

Shane Coulter (c)Coulter Family Photos

COCHRAN, GEORGIA: Shane Coulter, age 50, remembers sitting in his office at Automotion Customs in Warner Robins thinking he just didn’t feel right.

“I was not sure what it was … I just felt cold and clammy,” Shane said. “I told one of the guys I was going to go home.”

In the back of his mind, he never really thought he could have had the coronavirus … because he had been so careful since the outbreak – wearing gloves, masks, keeping six feet away from people and washing his hands constantly, and sanitizing everything.

“Because I work out in the public, I just didn’t want to chance it … my guys and my girls (wife, Jennifer and daughter, Hannah) would tease me because I was really going all out … But I just didn’t want to chance it. My mother-in-law who is in her late 70s lives with us,” Shane said.

But he went home, and he thought maybe he had a temperature. “It was about 99 degrees, then it went to be a 100. My wife was like, well, they said wait until it gets to be 101 or more … I went ahead over to Dublin to get tested,” the 1988 graduate of Bleckley County High School said.

And, Shane said, “Lo and behold, my test was positive.” Immediately, he went into quarantine, and everyone around him got tested, and the business shut down.

Shane wanted to make sure his employees were all tested, and, of course, his wife, Jennifer, mother-in-law and daughter, Hannah, who is a junior at the University of Georgia in Athens where she plays softball. They notified customers and other family as well.

“So far, no one has been positive but me. Some of the guys are waiting for their results,” he said Thursday afternoon during a phone interview with The Murphy Gazette.

When asked what and how he felt, Shane said, “I am fine now. That was about 14 days ago … the only symptoms I had were minor – the fever and a headache …”

He has been given the all clear by his doctor, or will be on Friday, May 15, as long as the fever doesn’t return.

When asked what he planned to do, Shane said they all would continue to take precautions, and for the safety and well-being of others, if needed, he would wear a mask.

Crediting keeping up his physical health of the years for his stint as a corona patient being not as severe. “I am one of the lucky ones.”

This type of perseverance is not new to Shane. He has always been one who keeps going, and is very determined. He credits his time in the Coast Guard for most of that.

In high school, he says he was “not a good student … I was lazy … I never studied … I struggled … putting me in a classroom setting was just not my thing.”

He thought entering the Coast Guard would be OK, and he concentrated on getting physically ready. But then he was got a big surprise in boot camp. Thinking there would be a lot of physical exercise and training, he was sure it would be a shoo-in. Shane laughed, “A large part of our time was spent in the classroom learning how to do all things we needed to do.”

Then something happened that caused Shane to do a 360 degree turn. “I failed my first test we had … I failed miserably … they told me to shape up and get it together, and said if I failed again I would have to do an extra week of Boot Camp.”

Shane said, “I am one of these types of people who just gets distracted easily … you know … say squirrel and I am off looking elsewhere. They really hit me hard with it and said, you have got to find a quiet place and get rid of those distractions, and study.”

Something clicked with Shane, and he says, he started buckling down, and never failed another exam. In fact, had he not had that one black mark on his record, he might have finished boot camp higher in ranks than he did.

But that was OK. Shane said he just found the self-discipline and determination he needed to get the work done. Teasing, he said, “I was just a country boy when I came into the Coast Guard … I joke that I was like ‘Forrest Gump.’ They said, just do what you are told, study hard and you will do fine. Well, I learned quick about the studying.”

His first duty station was in New York – on Governor’s island – on a ship. “Now you talk about country going to town … I fell in love with all the cultures … it was a smorgasbord of culture … it was the best thing for me.”

Shane had a long decade career in the Coast Guard, and went all over the place – to places like Cuba, Haiti, and was stationed in Florida and New York, and Maryland. He was even honored with an achievement medal, and earned an E-5 rank, as a petty officer second class.

While in Florida, Shane was instrumental in invoking a policy of taking a rescue team of a paramedic or two with his boat crew when going out on rescues.

“Where we were was near a retirement community, and a lot of times, these people would go out on a gambling boat in international waters where they could gamble … those ships were hot and close quarters, and we would get calls to go out for folks to rescue … a lot of heart attacks, seasickness, etc … It just really bothered me, because we didn’t always have an EMT with us, and I had these young guys on my crew, and they would be doing CPR and everything to try and save the patient, and that is all we could do.”

So, they were losing more folks than rescuing. Shane’s neighbor was a fireman, and he asked him if he called them when they had a rescue would they go out and respond with them. He was told yes. So, the next time they got a rescue call, Shane called 911. Two paramedics went out, and they were able to save the individual.

“And that is how it went from then on … I was talking to a buddy of mine who has retired from there, and he said they were still doing that today,” he said.

While Shane was stationed in Florida with the Coast Guard, he would work part-time while he was off duty helping this guy restore corvettes. When he was transferred to Maryland, he did some of the “same thing … at first part-time, and then it looked like it could blossom into full-time work.” It was then that he decided that it was time to try a new career.

And he began his own business, doing customization for vehicles, and it took off. He did it for two years, and finally sold that business. “Our daughter was about one at the time, and we just wanted to come back to Georgia to be closer to family.”

Automotion Customs, which is located at 12016 Hwy 247 in Warner Robins, started as a mobile business for Shane at first, and then it eventually turned into a physical shop, and now he has around 10 employees.

They do everything from customization, wheels, lifts, cars and higher end electronic and other work. Check out his website at http://www.automotioncustoms.com/ to discover everything they do. (And he is also on Facebook.)

When asked what type of advice he would give anyone thinking of starting a business or taking on any type of project, Shane snickered, and said, “When I walked back into town, I was sure that people would look at me, and remember what I was like in high school -and wonder how in the world that I got to be where I am today.”

Shane paused. “Hard work and never giving up.”

“I love to tell the kids today my story, and I will tell them, if I can do it .. anyone can … Everyone struggles with something … you have to find your passion, and work it … and one thing, I always say that there are people smarter than me. That means, if I find myself struggling with something, I find someone who can do it, and then I am not intimidated by them … that may not be my thing that they can do, and you know, I could go out in the shop and show them something I can do with my hands, and they will be like, whoa, how did you … we all have the capabilities to do something and be good at it …”

As for his future, Shane reflected. He said, “My wife, Jennifer, is my best friend. She is a pretty good fisherman … we may got out fishing after I retire in a few years … Hannah will graduate next year, and has expressed an interest in coming in the family business …”

He said, “We will just have to see.”

And whatever Shane tackles, we are sure that it is going to turn out A-OK! … – Story Submitted by Rebecca.

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Shane and his wife, Jennifer, and daughter, Hannah. (c)Coulter Photos