By Paul DeGuiseppi, MACS manager of service training
Someone asked me, “Is there anything you miss about working in a shop?”
Faster than you can say poly-cotton blend, what shot out of my mouth was, “the uniforms.” Yep, what I absolutely miss the most is knowing every night, exactly what I was going to wear to work the next day. No thinking, no selecting, no laundering, no ironing, no worrying about how I looked—not that I ever worried much about that.
I just dislike clothing, and anyone familiar with my wardrobe can attest to that. I always think about the cool things I could buy with the money I spend on clothes. That’s why I very infrequently refresh my ensemble, and pretty much wear the same stuff over and over again, usually for years.
“But what else do you miss?” I was further prodded.
I guess the other two things I mostly miss are doing the jobs to which I was most frequently assigned: no-starts and driveability problems. Who reading this (that is, who reading this that’s actually a mechanic) could say that they don’t derive great satisfaction getting the car that wouldn’t start to do so, no matter how simple or difficult the diagnosis.
Same for driveability problems, maybe even more so. Customers almost look at you as a god-like being, and are usually very appreciative. And I’ve seen that type of thing go even further. In one particular shop I worked in, one of the office girls told one of the techs, “If you get my car to run right, I’ll do something for you your past girlfriends probably wouldn’t.” One of the other techs asked her, “What are you gonna do, cook him dinner?”
“Is there anything else you miss,” came an additional query?
Sure. Getting to be outside in nice weather. From about the end of April to the end of October, bay doors up, fresh air coming in; how delicious!
I also liked the other smells and sounds. This may seem crazy to non-hardcore car people, but I find pleasing the smell of exhaust (especially that which has not passed through a catalytic converter), certain cleaning solvents, various burnt materials and many of the other odors prevalent in a shop.
I also miss regularly getting to hear impact guns, air ratchets, tire machines, lift pumps, etc. And what real car guy can honestly say they don’t like the rumble of a barely-muffled V-8 engine?
Another thing; working in a shop, it’s almost like every day is a car show. I miss being able to sample and examine many different cars, both newer and older. I also loved those extended “road tests,” and performing an unauthorized stall test every once in a while.
I also miss getting to hang with the guys, most of whom provided me with a never-ending source of amusement. The car repair business is certainly populated with a number of characters, that’s for sure.
I miss getting to purchase, but mostly use, new tools and equipment. What mechanic could disagree with this? There’s just no need for me to buy much of anything these days, and since I don’t work in a shop now, that means I don’t get to play with the newest, latest, greatest shop equipment either. I mostly miss the various pieces of diagnostic equipment, suspension service tools and wheel alignment equipment.
I miss getting to find, see and fix the occasional weird, or out of the ordinary problem that a vehicle might have. We all know about pattern failures, or the cars we can diagnose while they’re still sitting out in the parking lot. That’s the mundane stuff.
But every now and then, you get one that’s doing something that essentially defies logic, or at least defies what we think it should do. I truly believe that some vehicles have a mind of their own. How many times have you seen a car do something for which there is no plausible, or at least quickly discernable explanation? That kind of thing can definitely spice up a day.
This one’s worth mentioning: being able to go home every day at 5:00, and pretty much leave the job at the job. Of course, for the most part, I also enjoy doing what I do now. But there are definitely some days that I miss what you might call the simpler life.
Last but not least, I miss helping customers keep their cars on the road as cheaply as possible. I loved it when someone would bring in a car after another shop told them they needed this or that, only to find that all they really needed was something much simpler and much cheaper. I think if everyone was like me, we wouldn’t have the reputation that we do.
Then came my curious comrade’s final question. “So, would you consider the days you still worked in a shop the good old days?”
Faster than you could say poly-cotton blend, what shot out of my mouth was “the uniforms.”
When having your mobile A/C system professionally serviced, insist on proper repair procedures and quality replacement parts. Insist on recovery and recycling so that refrigerant can be reused and not released into the atmosphere.
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The 32nd annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Convention and Trade Show will take place January 18-20, 2012 at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV.