04 April, 2014
The New Guy Part 2
We have yet another "new guy" at the shop. I've had to deal with a lot of piss-poor mechanics to get this one and I'm elated that he's with us. I'll refer to him as "Igor". Igor has the necessary skill set to make it in the crazy business of a truck shop (or any shop for that matter). He's young and just finishing up his education at the local tech school but he's smart. Really smart. He's had one job in a truck shop prior to arriving at our door so he has some experience. He can weld steel and aluminum, he can make stuff, his brain is hard-wired for troubleshooting problems, he has the right amount of paranoia ("Did I tighten that drain plug?)... Sure, he's still pretty green, but he remembers the lessons the rest of us are teaching him. Igor's very receptive to the "lessons" I have for him. For example, we had a customer come in with a KW T-600. One of the complaints was regarding the A/C belt not being there. I had already peeked under the hood before I put Igor on the job so I already knew what was needed to remedy the problem. After Igor was done poking around under the hood he came to me and said "It's needs an A/C belt." I replied "OK, is the tensioner OK? What about the idler pulley? Is the compressor seized?" He responded with "Uh, I didn't look at that stuff." I turned that into a lesson. Serpentine belts usually don't just break, something else causes them to fail. Sloppy pulleys, tensioners that don't tension the belt anymore, seized A/C compressors etc. I told him that I had already looked at it and knew where the problems lay. We both went over to the truck and I explained that whenever he was confronted with a missing/broken belt he should check everything that is driven by that belt. "Here, spin the tensioner pulley. Hear how it growls when you spin it? It's junk. Same with the idler pulley." Repeat this situation at least once a day. Each thing that us old farts can turn into a lesson makes Igor a better mechanic. What's even better is that Igor knows we're not being assholes by pointing out things he missed, he understands that we're teaching him. After all a diploma from a tech school is, really, only a license to learn. Igor also has some sense of financial responsibility. He's not constantly broke, he doesn't have a huge balance with the tool guys. He also isn't a habitual tool borrower. Being new, he knows he's going to need a lot of tools but doesn't really know what tools to get. If he borrows something from me more than a few times, he'll get his own, within reason. I wouldn't expect him to go out and buy a $300 puller set at this point in his career. That stuff can wait. But he has acquired the more rudimentary tools that he's had to borrow from me. This kid is definitely worth the time we'll spend on him. He's been such a breath of fresh air that I couldn't help but take him under my wing. I even let him put his tool box next to my tool box. The conversation at the end of the shift is just as important as the conversation during the shift. 'Ol Rob did the same thing for me when I was at the courier company. I have a responsibility to Igor. He has what it takes to be a good mechanic and my job is to help him develop his skills. I don't take that lightly. One of the previous "new guys" that I've written about wasn't worth the time. I knew it right from the start. The old guys like me can tell within the first week if a new guy is going to make it or not. Igor is going to make it.