The New Guy In the Shop
We’ve all had that first day at the new job and we’re never quite sure how things are going to go. Your resume got you this far but now it’s up to your actions and reactions whether or not you’re going to fit in. As we all know, first impressions are usually the best impressions, so you want to get started off on the right foot.
First things first, where should I put my tool box? Which lift is mine? Used oil, where does it go? How many air lines are there? Who do I see about ordering parts? So many questions, so many things to know. It can be quite intimidating at first, you have to find things out like; does the boss allow personal phone calls, or whether or not the shop will tolerate your music. It could be the first job that your handed that might have you on edge. Then again, it all could be a breeze, a piece of cake, nothing for a stepper! We can always hope so.
Look around the shop a bit and it won’t be hard to spot the trainees/apprentices though. At least you’ll know who they are. The trainees are the ones with the grease smudges on their face. They haven’t learned not to wipe their face with their greasy hands yet. That is, unless you are the new trainee, well then, here’s a tip for ya… wash up first!
Once you’ve moved your toolbox to the designated spot and start opening a few drawers don’t be surprised if there are a few peering eyes trying to see what tools you brought with you. They're just trying to find out if you’ve got the right kind of tools, or which tools you’re most likely to borrow. Borrowing tools and being the new guy isn’t a good combination, but I’m sure you’ll have to borrow something sooner or later. Then again, if you’ve got something they need, that’s a whole different story.
After a few weeks you’ll start to get into the swing of things. Soon the new guy thing isn’t so much of a curiosity as much as it is the subject at the break table. “What prank can we pull on the new guy”. I’d say there’s a good chance if you walk near the break room and you hear a lot of chatter but when you actually walk into the room everything goes quiet… uhm… you’re probably the subject of conversation. Especially if the other mechanics are sitting there smiling sheepishly. Chances are somebody is going to grab you by the ankles while you’re on a creeper or air up the portable bead seater and blast air up your pants leg, so be prepared.
Being the new guy not only means you have to show what you can accomplish to the rest of the crew and the boss but you’ve also gotta show that you are part of the team. Chances are you’re going to judged using “the new guy” equation. That’s new guy divided by how many mistakes, times how many days you’ve been there, minus any pranks you’ve survived, multiplied by the square root of what the boss thinks of the whole thing. It’s all in the math at that point.
Some shops don’t condone pranks on the new guy, while other shops feel it’s a rite of passage. Make it through the first couple of weeks while making a few new friends and keeping the new guy equation to a minimum may mean there’s a good chance you’ve passed the hurdles of the new job. But that doesn’t mean pranks are over, oh no… no matter how years you’re there, if you’re the last hire… you’re still the new guy. So don’t be surprised if you come in Monday morning and find your tool box dangling from the lift by way of a roll of duct tape.
So what should you do if you’re the new guy? Well, here are a few pointers that might help. Ask a lot of questions, but don’t ask a lot of questions. Keep your work area clean, but don’t clean your area so often that that’s all they think you do around there. If you’ve got to borrow a tool, clean it, wipe it down, and personally hand it back to the rightful owner. Don’t just lay it on his tool box. Concentrate on your job, and don’t be late for work. Make a good impression, but that doesn’t mean trying to date the boss’s daughter on the first day of work. Unless, that’s how you got the job, if that’s the case… you’re on your own buddy!
As the new guy you’ve got a lot to do besides doing the job you were hired in for. Cars are a personal thing with a lot of people, and behind the scenes at the repair shop that personal touch of how the mechanic approaches a repair is just as personal to the shop. Each shop seems to have their own atmosphere and ways of doing things; you’ve just got to figure it all out. Oh, and don’t worry if somebody sends you off looking for an “ID-ten-T”…. they’re just messing with ya. It shows you’re starting to fit into the group, and you’re not just the new hire but becoming a part of the team.