Know It Alls
Now I'm not some "Know-it-all". I hardly remember birthdays, let alone some things I probably should remember about cars. It's no wonder I spend what little free time I have reviewing new information, videos, manuals, and websites. I spend a lot of time learning what I can about all the new systems and diagnostics methods. I try to retain as much as I can, and at the same time try to keep the older car information from slipping into that black hole of lost and forgotten car information.
Now, there are some folks who come to the shop or call me on the phone, who seem to expect me to be able to rattle off all kinds of far off reaching information about a certain system on their car. Some of it I might be able to answer, but a lot of times I've got to go check the information out before giving an answer.
Some people use their "Know-it-all" knowledge as some sort of test to see how much I know. They'll rattle off some sort of important change on a 3.8 V6 for a certain year, and expect me to know it in detail. Seriously people, I couldn't care less about stuff like that. If those "so-called" facts were important in the process of repairing or diagnosing, I might be concerned, but most of their "lingo" is superficial stuff that isn't going to change the way I'm going to diagnose their car problem. Then again, I may find out later their little superficial information is important, and I end up looking stupid… I guess that takes care of the test results doesn't it.
As it is, the vehicle changes are so rapid these days it's harder and harder to keep up with the changes just from memory. I can't possibly remember them all. I'll know what I need to know, and keep the rest close at hand, so that I can go back to it and study it a little more carefully.
When "Mr. Know-it-all" comes up to the front counter and starts spouting off all kinds of technical jargon, I just stand there waiting for him to finish is dissertation. Then ask him, "So why are you here? You seem to have all the technical wizardry at hand. What would you like me to do?"
Most of the time it's all talk… because I usually end up repairing whatever it was that brought them into the shop. I guess, some people just want to show their knowledge to the technician. I can't imagine someone going into a dentist office and telling the dentist the month and year that cavity filling was changed to some sort of new modern filler, or what year the new style dental drill was introduced… but they will at the repair shop, and how!
Then there is what I call the "Professional Know-it-all" --- The car clubs. I really get a kick out these car club members that come in from time to time. Usually when one of these guys or gals has a good feeling about a shop they'll tell the rest of the group, and for the next couple of months or so I'll work on a lot of their rides. Lately it's been the Corvair club; a few months ago it was the Triumph club. They come and they go, they'll stop back by once in awhile, and then they drift off for a few months. They'll usually show up again right around car show season time.
Now these folks are hilarious. They can tell you about every single nut and bolt and modifications ever done to their car from its birth to the day the final car rolled off the assembly line. I'll bet some of them can even tell you what time of the day a certain part was installed at the factory. I guess it makes great conversation, while sitting in a folding lawn chair out in the hot sun of the mall parking lot for a car show.
These folks loved to talk about their cars. I've found out (from experience) if you even smile, or look interested…ya better pull up one of those lawn chairs… you're going to need it, because you're going to hear all about it. I've even seen them sit there talking with the other "know-it-alls" while trying to one up each other with their knowledge and facts about their rides.
Oh, I can't leave myself out of that category, at times. I'm guilty of it too. You didn't think after nearly 3 decades of repairing cars that I don't have a storeroom full of useless facts in my old brain bucket? Believe me, I'll wear that lawn chair out telling my stories.
I really enjoy the club guys and dolls myself. These folks have quite a respect for their beloved rides. Most of them appreciate good workmanship, and take pride in knowing the right places to take their cars. The nice thing about these folks is you can just about guarantee their information is correct. They "Know-it-all", and if I'm having a problem with a car they'll jump right in with all the facts and figures, wire diagrams, repair manuals or even spare parts for me to finish the job.
It makes my job a lot easier that's for sure. So in some respects the different types of "Know-it-alls" does make a difference when it comes to repairing cars. Some people might call the mechanic the "Know-it-all", some people might think they are the "Know-it-all". It really doesn't matter to me. I'm still the guy who fixes their car. I don't need to know it all… But, I'll leave them thinking that I do. Either way, I'll get the car fixed. All I know is what I know… it may not be it all…but it's enough to get the job done.
You know, sometimes you never know what you may run across in this business. All I know is what I know... I guess some people have to grow up a bit before they learn to not try to impress somebody with their knowledge.
I'm sure we've all seen them. I'll just write about them... that's what I do. Hope you enjoy reading these stories. I never know which ones will make it into my column, that's up to the editors. But, I can tell them how many people have read it here at ASO, that sometimes makes a difference in which story goes out into publication.
Leave a comment, let me know. You know it "all" ... makes a difference. Gonzo