The garage business is a mystery to most people. People with car problems just want the car fixed, fast and cheap, and they don't want to think about the repair process being a business. The prudent buyer of services, however, would do well to understand a few things about the process. The most important thing being that without a profit, the service would disappear, unless we're communist, then the service would stay available. It would just stink.
But wait, there's more. People capable of doing repair work have other needs besides money, similar to normal people: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and all that stuff. A buyer able to provide some of the other stuff might not need quite so much cash. Get my point? A little respect goes a long way. In my experience, a personable approach often begets a personable response. I think people who are distrustful of the industry simply don't know much about the industry, so maybe I can shed some light on what kind of nut house I work in.
I was once asked by a reporter who was interviewing me, to tell him about the funniest thing that happened in our shop recently. I was a deer in the headlights. "Funny things don't happen here. We're all skinning knuckles, pulling muscles and sweating our butts off working on dirty, greasy cars for people who don't want to pay what it costs," I said, immediately wishing I hadn't said it quite that way. Now he was the deer in the headlights, slowly backing away, moving toward his car. I think I apologized, but I still couldn't think of anything funny. That was my bad, coming from a bad attitude on a bad day, and I was wrong. Boy was I wrong. It took a recently hired lady to make me look at it. She says this is the funniest place she has ever worked. After further review, her call on the field stands. For instance;
n Mechanic number one called my house once and left a message with my wife, "Tell Johnny I fed the kids at the zoo, policed the area and am gone." She relayed the message with no idea what it meant. I knew that he always called me Johnny, I don't know why, and he called the shop "The Zoo," I do know why, and to him the dogs we kept at the shop were his "kids," and policing the area was from his ROTC days. Mystery solved.
n Our mechanic number three is a large man. Our secretary gets a kick out of assigning the smallest cars to him, and then taking pictures of him while he's jammed inside them.
The other day mechanic number one came in and said he couldn't take any more of number four. I had to do something about him. I asked what he was talking about, and he said to look out my window. As I looked up, there in my window was the mummified carcass of a small possum, nothing left but the skeleton, with a smoking cigarette in its mouth. I have to do something about number four, when I quit laughing.
n The other day I heard a reference about people having jobs requiring showers after work, as opposed to jobs needing showers before work. It had never before occurred to me. Our work, of course, requires a shower after, but what I think is funny is that in our line of work we have to wash our hands before using the bathroom, as opposed to the rest of you.
We're different, but we're regular people, and sometimes we're funny.