Ever heard this one? What’s the difference between a puppy and technician? At 12 weeks the puppy stops whining. Budda bing, budda boom.
I am guessing that most reading this column have never functioned as a full-fledged master technician, plowing through tedious flat rate day after day, week after week, year after year. Yet, unknowing and unfamiliar service and general managers are charged with supervising these dark and valuable creatures. Therefore, little actual “management” or interchange is ever accomplished.
What the …
I gotta job for you young man, lady or whatever these days. Here’s the deal. First you will need to be very well educated in the fundamentals of reading and writing – and if the “no child left behind” dictum screwed you – well, you’re out already. Secondly, you will need to study and learn to the same point as a typical college graduate (except way more than some of the stupid and useless liberal arts degrees). Oh, and plan on encountering some pretty lousy teaching, out-of-date equipment, lots of “learn it yourself time” and a big fat tuition to pay back at the end.
Along the way expect to begin purchasing tools and a box, but not too much yet. It will take a while for you to make the $30 to $40,000 investment while you are trying to pay your rent and utilities too – but you won’t wait too long cause you will get fed up with not being able to find the special tools you need – probably broken anyway. Plan on working (while sweating profusely) in all temperatures, up to and well over, 100 degrees. In the winter expect to trudge about seven or eight times daily for 10 minutes around a disorganized, snowy-slick parking lot (for free), seeking your next fix.
But it gets better …
However, the good news is that you will be paid on flat rate, which means when there is no work at the shop, you have to do side jobs at night and on the weekend. When you or maybe someone else makes a mistake you will fix it again for no pay. You will make some good money some months, but plan on minimizing the Christmas gifts each year because that will be your worst month. Others will control your fate dramatically, especially the young and inexperienced service advisors, who typically come and go, most having little or no skills other than administration, order-taking, and a colossal smile. Oh, and several times a week you will receive the requisite no-problem-found jobs (NPF or NFP, if you have an attitude), because the advisor was too lazy to get off his you-know-what to examine the vehicle at reception.
Another treat will be waiting at the parts department, where some days you will be lucky to get three of four parts you need to complete a job. No problem there, you will get to relax for free while waiting, or you might be able to start another job provided there’s an empty stall, which there isn’t. However, this will provide an opportunity to shop for the replacement tools stolen, broken, lent and not returned over the last couple weeks (thank goodness for tool credits). Love is truly in the air, Captain.
On most days you won’t be able to get started on time because you, and nine others, have to retrieve a job at the same time from the service drive area, if there is a prepared RO (not). That will give you time to nurse the big gash on your middle finger (not from that), which you got the day before removing that buried alternator (thoughtless designers). At the end of the day, the parts counter will close at 4:59 pm sharp. So getting another item, finishing the job and getting paid – that will be tomorrow Stud – hugs for all.
On the other hand I …
The mounds of technical information you digested and the self-training you accomplished – well, it all changes with the new model year General. Yep, time to restudy and re-self-train (all for free of course) cause some engineer dude, trying to keep his job, redesigned it for a reason you, or no one else, will ever understand. Oh, and the new approach will require yet another unique tool and you will exclaim frequently “I wish the idiot who designed this had to fix it.” Feel the love yet?
Oh yes, I have to advise you not to get sick my brother. Unlike most employee positions, it will be extremely difficult for you to work while under the weather, on your commission-only plan. Those aches and pains – just ignore them and be sure to pay a lot annually for top notch shoes since your feet and ankles will live on concrete or the like. Always wear lots of underwear too because you don’t want those nasty uniform company chemicals invading your privates and armpits – you laugh, but that stuff makes you itchy. However, some good news here – if your shirt looks as filthy and grubby when it returns as when it left, you won’t have as much of an issue (weaker chemicals). See, a good thing?
Even better than …
Don’t plan on getting much “positive” recognition or any thanks either. However, if something isn’t right you will get lots of it (recognition). You must learn to ignore the fact that a jack-leg don’t-care two-bit tech is allowed to work two stalls down, one whose only care is cremating the flat rate on all easy jobs, and never exactly fixing anything just right. The fact he makes more money than you screwing the customers – well just ignore that – keep your pride intact. Just study hard because then you can fix anything. That will position you as the “pet” of management and then you can be given every difficult, low pay, piss-ant job no one else can or wants to do. But you will be liked more, that’s something isn’t it?
Your in-laws will refer to you as “just a mechanic,” but don’t plan on getting a moment’s peace at a family gathering or any party for that matter. You will be peppered (harassed) with constant questions and requests for your opinion and free advice. Also, plan on encountering plenty of aggravating know-it-alls telling you how it is, the ones don’t know their butt from first base.
Accept that your “friends” will call you nights and weekends for “just a little favor” and your favorite hideaway will become a Sunday morning church pew with no one around. When your kids jump on you for play it will hurt, but by then you will be numb to pain so it won’t matter.
Clueless in …
No, unless you’ve been there and done that for years – you are clueless to the life and times of a big time tech. Quality, top-shelf professional technicians are as scarce as hen’s teeth – now you know why big guy. Value the few you have just a little more and let them whine a little, and maybe say “thanks” once in a while. It won’t hurt, I promise.