DADE CITY — The sales folks have a lot of down time these days at Jarrett Ford Lincoln Mercury. That's typical for a small town car dealership during a severe economic slump. What's unusual is how some workers are passing the time.
In the center of the used car sales manager's office door is a wood stain about 3 feet tall.
Some look at it and swear it's Jesus.
"Sometimes it gets so crazy that faith is all you've got left," said Chip Davis, who runs a paintless dent removal service that services Jarrett. Davis immediately noticed the anomaly and identified it as the central figure of Christianity.
"Anybody who's seen pictures of the burial cloth and image of Christ that's on that cloth — that same image is on that door," said Davis, who attends Cypress Meadows Community Church in Clearwater.
Davis snapped a photo of the door and put it on his Facebook page. He also sent a copy to the St. Petersburg Times.
"I recognized it as soon as I saw it," he said.
Carlos Castro, who has been at the dealership for 16 years, said some customers have taken notice.
"People come in and stop and look," he said. "A couple of them will do the sign of the cross." Castro recalled the discoloration on the front of the Ugly Duckling Car Rental building in Clearwater that drew worshipers who said it was the Virgin Mary. "It's not as defined as that one," he said.
"It looks a little bit like Sasquatch," piped up Ruth Johnson from the receptionist desk.
James Bauman Jr., who was getting an oil change, described it as "Christ in a Jedi outfit," then as a "Persian king."
He then said there was probably significance in the stain, just as there is in Barack Obama being president and Israel's conflict with Hamas.
"I believe the Rapture is just around the corner," he said.
Johnson studied the stain a bit more and said it looked like a caveman.
"We did say at one time it looked like Jesus," she said.
Darryl Collins, who occupies the office with the stained door, said Davis had pointed the stain out to him but he didn't really think much of it.
"I guess everybody has their own outlook on it," said Collins, 42. "It depends on what religion you're from."
Collins, who was raised a Baptist, said he's "not real big" on religion but called the door "pretty neat."
"I'm not swapping doors with anybody, I can tell you that."
The son of a carpenter, Collins said he had never seen anything like it. However, he knows wood has a mind of its own.
"Wood will stain differently in different places when (the same) stain is applied to it," he said.
No one knows that better than Stephen Iavarone, who teaches carpentry at F.K. Marchman Technical Education Center in New Port Richey.
Freshly cut lumber is green and turns brown as it dries out. Diseased trees also look different. Stain takes to wood differently in different spots because of varying moisture levels. Even a floor that has been covered with a carpet will change colors as it ages.
"A tree is an ever evolving thing," he said."
Cliff Martin, the dealership's general manager, said he only noticed the stain Thursday when someone pointed it out to him.
Martin said the door was put up about 10 years ago when the dealership was remodeled. He didn't know the name of the contractor.
"It looks like a man in a long robe," he said.
Martin, who is Catholic and attends Mass every Sunday, doesn't attach spiritual significance to the office door.
But he said maybe the stain would at least attract potential customers.
"I like to say we're blessed but we're not breaking any sales records, so maybe we're just blessed to be in business."