05 May, 2016

Another New Guy

The current shop broom pusher and parts runner is decent.  He's not so good at keeping himself busy and lacks some skills that are needed to become a mechanic.  He's young and wants to get into this crazy line of work but I don't think he's going to make it.  I'm sure you've heard the jokes pertaining to the "dumb blonde" that can't walk and chew gum at the same time, well that's the new guy.  If he's sweeping up a bay and I say something like "Make sure to turn in the keys to the shop truck before you leave."  He'll have to stop sweeping in order to reply.  Being the person who drives the shop truck the most, he's pretty good at keeping the fluids topped off and letting us know when there might be some problems that need fixing.  He's self-taught thus far and does fairly well with his own vehicles.  Last week he mentioned that the shop truck has a bad wheel bearing.  I asked him to get the front end off the ground, spin the wheels and give them a shake to determine if what he was hearing was actually a wheel bearing going bad.  Between then and now I had driven the truck and was pretty sure it was a tire noise.  The truck is four wheel drive and has some pretty aggressive tires on it.  Those tires haven't been rotated in a long time and the front tires are looking (and feeling) quite choppy.  So, today he mentioned the wheel bearing again and I asked if he had checked them yet.  He said he hadn't (after having to stop sweeping to answer my question) and I mentioned that it might be prudent to rotate the tires when he had the wheels off the ground.  A short test drive after tire rotation would either prove, or disprove my theory regarding the tires.  He said that he knew what a bad wheel bearing sounded like.  I said that I did, too.  I also said that before we go through the hassle of ordering, picking up and installing a wheel bearing that it was a good idea to eliminate the tires first.  I told him that I wasn't discounting his thinking it was a bad bearing, but a professional shop can't just throw parts at a vehicle because someone "thinks" a part is failing.  He got all riled up and I said "Yeah, it can't possibly be tire noise, or differential noise due to low fluid level, or vibration.  I don't know a damned thing."  Said with sarcasm.  I then told him, "Dude, I got into this line of work before you were even born.  I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I've learned a thing or two.  Don't forget who showed you how to repair those threads you ripped out of your Mom's van yesterday."  He became pissy and didn't speak to me the rest of his shift.

The big oaf is 21.  Young men in their early twenties just can't be wrong and the world is their oyster.  I was like that at his age.  I was full of piss and vinegar, I didn't listen to advice from the old guys... It bit me in the ass more than once and I learned from it.  I don't like being the "bossy" type, but sometimes I have to be.  It's a professional shop.  Hanging out in your buddy's garage working on your own shit is a different environment.  As foreman, I'm responsible for making sure the work gets done and is done right.  I'm constantly roaming the shop and checking in with the other mechanics.  "How is this coming along?  Need any parts?"  I'll offer some advice and then move on to the next guy.  What the broom pusher doesn't understand yet is, though throwing parts at your own vehicle is fine and dandy, it doesn't fly for customer equipment.  "Uh, yeah, I uhhh... heard a wheel bearing noise and replaced both front bearings.  The, uh, er, noise is still there but you have to pay me for the wheel bearing R&R because, uh, the noise... go talk to the foreman."  You can't do that in a professional shop.  Customers get pissed off about that sort of thing.  To appease those customers you have to do things like not making them pay for the labor (and selling the parts at your cost) for that "repair" just because someone didn't want to spend twenty minutes verifying the problem.  The goal of a business is to make money, not give stuff away.

The sweeper doesn't understand that as of yet.  He doesn't understand that we're letting him work on the company vehicles as a learning experience.  He doesn't understand that pissing off the old guys trying to teach him things isn't going to help his progression into wrench turning.  I'm not his parent, I'm not his teacher, I'm not his guidance counsellor, I don't owe him a damned thing.  I've had to deal with people like the sweeper many times.  Most of the time you just push them into the pool and say "Your so smart are ya?  Sink or swim motherfucker!"  Everyone needs an ego check every now and again.  I certainly received my share.

You new guys, listen to what the old guys are trying to teach you.  If the old guy makes a suggestion, don't automatically go into defensive mode.  Say "Thanks!" and after the old guy has left you alone, think about what he said.  Maybe his idea will work, maybe it won't.  Don't let your mouth move faster than your brain.  Think about what that old bastard has done for you.  He showed you how to sharpen a drill bit, how to drill a straight hole, how to tell the difference between wheel bearing play and king pin play, he showed you how to not get into overwhelming debt on the tool truck... Want to keep receiving little lessons like those?  Give the old guy a little respect.  Keep giving that old guy shit.  He'll cut you off and, possibly, give you incorrect information on purpose.  Just to watch you flail around and attempt to dig yourself out of the hole you just dug.  Yes, that happens.

Old Guy:  Make sure you drill that hole straight and right down the center.  If you get it crooked the tap might break off.  Here, let me show you a few tips...

New Guy: Yeah, yeah I got it.  It ain't the first hole I've drilled

OG:  Okay, just be careful.  Getting a broken tap out of that place isn't going to be fun.

NG:  Hey, can I borrow that tap?

OG:  Here ya go.  Use plenty of oil on it.

NG:  Yeah, sure.  I've done this plenty of times.

*thirty minutes later*

NG:  I need some help.

OG:  What happened?

NG:  The tap broke in that hole. *expects the OG to fix his fuck up*

OG:  I'll be over in a minute to have a look

OG:  That hole you drilled is off center and really crooked.  I assume from the coolant leak that you drilled so crooked that the water jacket got pierced.  Have fun with that one.

NG:  Will you help me with it?

OG:  Nope.  You brushed me off when I tried to give you some tips but you said that you had done this plenty of times before.  You created that problem, you have to fix it.  Sink or swim.  Make sure you get my tap replaced when the tool truck gets here.

*OG walks away*