Even as a boy, Robert Blakemore wanted to be an auctioneer.
Farmers squint in the dim yellow light as they unload chickens and goats from pickup trucks.
On a cold Friday evening in December, a herd of camouflage hats makes its way past sparsely populated livestock stalls toward an open door and a rapid-fire voice.
Robert Blakemore's Southern accent echoes throughout the terraced room of Triple B Livestock Auction, where nearly 50 people from their teens to their 70s gesture to bid on penned fowl resting atop a plastic barrel.
At the center of the action, Blakemore keeps track of the bids while speaking what some would consider a foreign language.
When asked what he actually is saying during his nearly incomprehensible stream of words, Blakemore said he doesn't "have any tricks."
"It's all about the filler words," he said. "You just get some words that you are used to and you fill in with them and keep going."
In April 2005, Blakemore and his father purchased Triple B, a livestock auction house hidden in a corner of downtown Chattanooga. Born and raised in Chattanooga Valley, Blakemore grew up spending most Friday evenings as a customer at the auction house.
"I grew up on a farm and always wanted to be an auctioneer," Blakemore said. "So three years ago I decided to go to school for it."
Few people realize that auctioneers must be formally trained, he said, including taking financial and speaking courses, as well as being professionally licensed. In addition to calling out the bids, Blakemore is responsible for the entire operation, from registering animals to placing bids over the phone.
During the week, Blakemore works for the Walker County Road Department, but he always looks forward to weekends when he auctions everything from cows to rabbits.
"I don't do this for the money; I just do it because I enjoy it," he said.
MOMENT is a weekly column by the Times Free Press photo staff that explores the seldom-told stories of our region. To hear this story in their own words, go to timesfreepress.com/moment.