What’s it like to be an accident-prone–but somehow lucky–perfectionist while working for the service department of a car dealership? Well, I believe it’s time I tell you:
- Let’s start with the least shrinking-into-the-corner event when I filled the position of Lube Technician i.e. performing oil changes, wiper, filter and bulb replacements at the express service facility of my employing dealership. Talk about a busy Saturday. We were rolling; cars were lined up in double rows out to the street; we implemented a reliable system of getting these cars out ASAP. If we busted out another awesome month, maybe our head, Mrs. Honcha would take us to that fancy Fresh Fish Company for an amazing dinner again or monetary bonuses. The lifts we used were four posts meaning we drive the car onto two long runners and up it goes. There is room for standing on the runners, narrowly. As one vehicle ascended, I remained near its fender checking fluids as someone else would begin breaking the drain bolt and cracking the filter below. I don’t know what had my perfectionist side so focused, but I’d forgotten the ground was some feet beneath me now. I stepped off the runner and didn’t touch ground in a few inches as expected. My leg took the brunt of it. I can’t recall much of the pain just mostly the stupidity and how it could have been worse. There were few witnesses, fortunately. I was driven to get back to work and in the process discovered one of those many uses for duct tape. Grabbing an ice pack, I taped it near the sorest part and moved on to the next car in line.
- This one, I very much wanted to huddle up into myself, shoulders rounded behind the steering wheel as they chose me to pick up the owner of the vehicle I had just mangled. This, also, was back in my lube tech days and the air compressor had failed at our facility so we were running cars back and forth to the big, intimidating, real-life service department where they tear down transmissions and engines for Pete’s sake! (It was one of the coolest experiences when I tore down my first manual transmission–with the shop foreman’s supervision of course-and replaced the worn parts in the process of re-build before installing it back in the vehicle. But that was later-on during my one-year stint as main service tech-in-training.) The clearances for driving customers’ vehicles were different in the main building; we didn’t have a long, straight shot to line up the car with the lift. There was a trick to it, but I hadn’t been aware it existed at the time. Turning into the slot for another four-post lift (this one an alignment rack), I decided it wasn’t looking too good, so I reversed in order to try again. The front fender hooked on the post and brought its predicament to my attention when the sound of destruction ensued. Oh, man, that customer was upset. Thankfully, maybe, he was the silent, angry type, leaving the quiet very uncomfortable as I drove him to the main dealership in a loaner. He sat in the passenger seat arms crossed, very stiff posture. Far from eloquent in my young age, I managed a weak but sincere, “I’m sorry.” His arms loosened slightly and he said something to the effect of “It’s okay.” That was the extent of our exchange. Phew! The body shop then got me out of the rest of that mess.
- Okay, this one still causes me to squinch my face in a true wince any time I think upon it. Hardly for the pain but for the many witnesses of my truly idiotic behavior. Man, should I have known better. Obviously, if I hadn’t been driving myself again to prove how capable I was to serve the customer during another busy Saturday, I might have slowed down and engaged a brain cell or two. This instance occurred during one of my many years in the parts department. (I had finally found the area of automotive service that seemed to suit me ‘just fine.’) We had the part, and I asked the customer to pull onto the service drive where I could install it for them because it was such a simple piece especially for one so familiar with it during my tech years. I went in pursuit of a tool. I was friendly with a few techs during my training days and hurried over to one tool box in particular. I just wasn’t as friendly with the box to know exactly in which drawer the tool resided. Some veteran techs might already see where this is headed. More so when I say that I had left drawers open. I still swear it was hardly more than a few and I think I had some co-worker support when they advised the box’s owner to wedge up the front, but the box owner insisted it had to be more drawers than that. Anyway, the weight of those drawers hanging open caused the whole thing to tip toward me and at least I wasn’t stupid enough to try to cease the fall with my minuscule mass against all that metallic weight. I got dinged in the face as I attempted to bail from the behemoth’s angle and acceleration of descent. Drawers spilled tools across the concrete floor–a disaster of a mess from which I was dismissed from attending to because technicians can be very specific about where every last tool goes. I had pain in my face, felt fearful of how bad, but in the end I only ended up with a black-eye (never had one of those before). That didn’t sting as much as having to go through the rest of the day with techs coming in for their parts and witnessing me holding a cold pack to my face and them knowing my intelligence-absent choice of action because the cacophony of hundreds of tools clanging had brought all the eye-witnesses running. Therefore, why let someone else have the fun of telling you when I can do it myself? 🙂
At the end of this, do I toot my own horn and declare how many co-workers lamented the loss of my presence when I finally moved on to writing and family-rearing so as to make sure you’re aware I was quite proficient in my various positions? These were the odd instances but still seem to consume so much of my past because they left me with intense emotion like being so da–uh, darned–embarrassed. I was good, though. Why else would they have kept me? 🙂 [No, it wasn’t just because of equal opportunity. They had several other female lube techs to keep besides myself.] And I still have real winning memories, numerous in fact, with strong senses of satisfaction like that manual transmission I mentioned. They just don’t make as juicy a tale. Finally, you want to guess the tech whose box I tipped? Yeah, he’s my husband. Wow, huh? :O
It’s not the biggest out there, but it packs a wallop.