In 2014, Lu Peng was an experienced manager in a large telecom company in Tianjing: stable office job with decent pay, like an insurance for a tranquil life. Until he walked in front of a cinema advertising the Transformers movie. While roaming back and forth in front of the poster, he felt his chest burning, as if there was “an open can of beer spewing fire” in it. Since he was a kid, he had admired Transformers, but he never dared asking his father to buy a model for him, fearing his iron harsh face. In a poor family, in an time when a popsicle costed 5 cents, spending tens of yuans on a plastic model sounded like heresy.
At mature age, he had the idea of building his own transformers. While his friends mocked him, he found unexpected support in his 60 year old father who worked as a wielder. “I do not know what a robot is, but if you want to make one I will support you.” They had been in a bad relation for the past 10 years, and he felt in his father an attempt to reconcile with him.
His life changed: every week after working in his office, he will take the last Friday night train at 21:30 to arrive at his natal village at 5 am. Thus he had 2 full days to work: wander from car wreckers to dumpsters to collect metal scraps. Then home to select them and imagine how a robot would look like. Wielding and sanding… from 5 tons of collected metal, 1 ton ended up shaped like a 4 meter tall Optimus Prime. With his heart full of gratitude for his father, Lu Peng climbed on his first robot for a photo. “At that time, I think, no matter what crazy idea I muttered, the old man would turn, bow his back and start wielding.”
After that, the local newspapers took notice, and a car seller asked to display his model at a car show offering to reimburse the expenses and pay a fee. Submerged with requests, he thought of quitting his job to dedicate all his time on making robots. His father first opposed the idea, thinking that he may be intoxicated by the quick fame. But the intention was pure, and his father, once again, supported him. People came looking for him to learn how to wield robots, and even a school class came to learn how to make lamps with metal pipes.
Today, Lu Peng has a large shed in Tianjin where he opened a Road Club with ample space for people to build metal things (mainly robots), a long wooden table where to sit down and discuss new ideas, a cafeteria and an exhibition room. In the future he hopes to open also to crafters working with textiles and ceramic “to bring people together and learn from each other”. In just 2 years, what started like a childish dream changed into a service for the society. His dream is reviving the spirit of craftsmanship into the people.
I was very touched by reading this story. Like Lu Peng, I always wanted a Transformer robot when I was a kid, but I never got one – too expensive for my family too, I guess. A child’s dream can become something big in the future, we never know! This is what Lu Peng’s story has inspired in me. Now… to work!
(Story from an article on the WeChat journal 司马 – A beam of light)