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7 Years of Bad Luck - a tongue and cheek look at mechanics and their superstitions

7 Years of Bad Luck

Black cats, a rabbits foot, a 4 leaf clover, the number 13, avoiding stepping on cracks, and always take the driver’s front tire off first. Ok, I’ve heard most of these superstitions, but the tire thing? What’s that all about? Well, there are some of us mechanics who have a few superstitions just like baseball players, sailors and the like. A lot of mechanics won’t admit it, or don’t think they are superstitious, but we all know you are.

Whether it’s a lucky screwdriver, a special place you always lay the air ratchet, or maybe how you organize your tool box there’s bound to be something in the way of a superstition somewhere among that pile of tools. Shy of calling out the witchdoctors to dance clockwise around a car while carrying a dead chicken and chanting some sort of low baritone incantation before every diagnostic procedure, I think it’s safe to say there are more than a few superstitions in the of auto repair biz.

 

I’m not one to think I’m even the least bit superstitious (knock on wood). I just don’t believe in that stuff, because I’m not superstitious. OK, OK, my wife says I am, and points out my flaws all the time, even if I won’t admit it. For instance, I won’t start a car after I’ve done a bunch of work on the engine, unless I’ve left at least one tool under the hood. After it’s started and checked out, then and only then will I pick up all my tools. Superstitious, you say? Maybe, or it could be because even after I’ve put everything back together something may or may not be as perfect as it should be. At least then, when I have to redo something, all the tools are still right where they need to be. But, you can bet even if I finished a job and I know everything is right, I’m still going to leave at least one tool under there … just in case.

I’ve watched techs nervously cross their fingers or keep their eyes shut while turning the key for the first time on a new motor they just rebuilt. (Usually followed by a sigh of relief and a couple of Yahoo’s! or the other, and we all know what that would be.) Or the guy who would never put a car in his service bay when the car color had the same first letter of that day of the week. (Totally weird. He eventually quit, and now works on forklifts instead. Yellow is a good color for him.) I once worked with a tech who wouldn’t start a repair unless he had a pocket screwdriver, for fear it would jinx him without it. It didn’t matter if he was just changing a battery or scanning for codes, that pocket screwdriver had to be in his pocket. As a joke, a couple of us hid all this guy’s pocket screwdrivers, and then watched him beg and plead to borrow one. Cruel, but it was still pretty funny anyway.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a full moon, a rainy day, a black cat that just walked across your service bay, or perhaps the color of the car there’s bound to be one guy or gal who has some premonition that something isn’t going to go right for them. Why, I’ve even heard of some mechanics (and shops) that won’t answer the shop phone if it rings the very second they unlock the doors. They’ll let somebody else get it or wait for them to call back. I guess they don’t want to start their day off with a complaint, or they just think it’s bad luck to do so. Nevertheless, it’s still sounds like a superstition to me. From the gardener to the baker everybody and every trade has their own superstitions.

We’ve probably all heard of the baseball players who won’t change their socks, or wear the same jersey during a play off, or football players who always have to tap the sign over the door as they go onto the field. It’s just one more of those wacky superstitions that keep showing up. Even the golfing great Jack Nicklaus had his own superstitions. He wouldn’t play unless he had three pennies in his left pocket during a round of golf. Sailors used to watch the sky, and if it was red in the morning, sailor take warning. Then there is the old “knock on wood” that to this day I still see people do. Superstitious? Sure, or perhaps a quirky habit? Who’s to say? Then again, it might just be to what degree we carry our personal superstitions in public that separates us from the completely insane or just being a little wacky. Except for breaking a mirror. That might really be 7 years of bad luck. I broke one about 5 years ago and the wife still hasn’t left me off the hook for it.

So how superstitious are you? I’ve consulted my horoscope and it says today is a good day for you to tell all. So alrighty then, all you mechanics and technicians out there or anyone else for that matter, let’s hear your superstitions. If you don’t have one then let’s hear about the guy in the next service bay. (That way we won’t know … it’s actually you.)

 


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