08 November, 2014

Thoughts of A Mechanic

Me with my first car.  Was during my first "career job" at the time.
Almost daily I ask myself "Did I make the right career choice?"  To which I have no definite answer.  I often think that I should have stayed in school so I might have had a better choice of career.  Ya know what?  I don't think it really matters all that much.  Whatever it is you do day to day, it's still a job.  Should I have continued with a more music oriented path?  Should I have followed the machinist route?  What about art or photography?  I'm a creative type of person so any of those paths would suit me.  Still, choosing your career is like choosing which child you will sacrifice.  I liked working on cars in my youth so I made it my career choice.  It didn't take but ten years (about six professionally) to kill that enthusiasm.  The last thing I want to do, when not at work, is fix anything with an engine.  My lawn mower starts and spins a blade that, mostly, cuts grass.  If an issue doesn't prevent me from cutting grass, it doesn't get fixed.  That age-old line of "The car belonged to a mechanic..." is, despite what you may think, not desirable. A mechanic spends his/her days fixing other peoples' shit.  They don't want to do it at home.  But it's not all about fixing things.

A good mechanic is, generally, an all around problem solver.  It doesn't matter what is in need of repair.  A typewriter, water heater, squeaky recliner, an unsolved crossword puzzle, a broken heart... When something isn't as it should be, a mechanic wants to know why.  Is the problem related to neglect, shitty design, stress failure etc.  The mechanic then thinks about how to solve that problem.  Not just repair it, but prevent it from happening again.  The difference between a mechanic and everyone else can be illustrated by this situation.  A person driving down the road notices their vehicle overheating.  A "fixer" would open the hood and see (fictitious situation here) that the serp belt is broken and/or missing.  The "fixer" would get a belt, throw it on and start moving again.  Only to have that new belt break or get thrown off.  Another new belt, same problem....  A mechanic will see that belt missing and wonder why it's missing.  A mechanic knows that it's very rare for a serp belt to simply break due to failure.  The mechanic would reach into the engine compartment and spin all of the pulleys by hand in order to see if anything has seized or has become sloppy.  Duct tape around a radiator hose is only going to last so long.  Sure, it will get you off the road, but it's not the solution.

I apologize for getting off track.  Long story short, I believe I have made the right choice as career is concerned.  I enjoy solving problems.  Sure, my main goal at the start of every shift is to complete the shift and go home, but I still get caught up in things.  This past Friday I was at shop for fourteen hours.  Why?  See it?  I'm so analytical that I have to figure out why I was at work for fourteen hours!  LOL!  It's a combination of things, not necessarily because I'm a mechanic, but because I'm a product of my parents.  My parents instilled within me an attitude of "Do what needs to be done" and "Do the right thing."  I had a job that (Goddammit!) wasn't going to get the best of me and, also, a long "to do" list.  The public me was brushing off some stuff that wasn't "important enough" to warrant a long shift.  The real me knew (Goddammit!) that I was going to get everything done because it's the right thing to do.  My years at this truck shop have revealed to me just how many people don't give a shit and are willing to pack up and leave at the end of their eight hours.  No thought given to the driver who is half a country away from home, the deadlines that have to be met, the driver's lost income due to the down time etc.  I may have to put in a few more hours, but if it gets that truck rolling again I'm okay with it.  My skills, the skills learned and honed over two decades, are put to good use.  And I get paid for it.  I, occasionally, get tips for my service.  I don't accept them.  I'm just doing my job.  If the customer is adamant about giving me a tip, I'll accept it, then I'll try and slip it back in their truck when they're not looking.  If that's not possible, I'll buy pop, donuts or something else for the shop with that tip.  My pay isn't the greatest, but it's enough to run a single income household with just a shade extra.  I'm doin' okay.

It's when a customer tries to tip me that I know I made the right career choice.  To me, it means I'm doing a good job.  I'm "Using my skills for good, not evil!" as I am wont to say.  I also realize that my skills go beyond the "mechanic" role.  I have a larger vocabulary and a better understanding of writing in general, than the average mechanic.  I also have a tad more creativity overall than the average mechanic.  Not being high brow, just being honest.  My parents, and some really good teachers over the years, have given (and fostered) those skill to me.  My punctuation and grammar are atrocious to a properly educated writer, but I don't think I'm doing too bad when it comes to expressing myself via text.  What do you think?

In conclusion (cheesy closer, I know...) you should follow your instincts.  You should also be aware that the things you may want to make a career out of, may end up being the last thing you want to do.  "Never turn a hobby into a career" comes to mind.  The difficult part is not choosing a career, but making sure you pick the right career for you.  I got mine (as with most things) by dumb luck.  Your experience may differ.

p.s. Thank you so much to the people sent me a note in response to my last post.  I stated right from the beginning that this blog is about me having a way to get things off my chest.  Still, it's nice to know that other people find my (often drunken) ramblings useful.  Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read my blog.  It means a lot to this old S.O.B.

No comments: