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Geek With Attitude - OK... drop the attitude buddy


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Geek With Attitude
tp.gifNow I realize I'm only a mechanic, and not an 
Ivy League scholar, and I may not qualify as the 
next inductee into MENSA, but I’m still a pretty 
smart guy.  Oh, I may not know all there is to know 
about every single make and model out there, but 
I have enough background and technical ability to 
solve just about anything that goes wrong with the 
modern car.  But, for some people the mere 
thought that a mechanic might actually have a 
few brain cells just baffles them to no end.  
tp.gifA few weeks ago I got a call from a guy, who 
(to the best of my dim witted abilities could tell), 
was having a problem with his truck.  He told me 
that he pulled all the fuses, and was still having a 
battery drain issue he couldn't find.  He even took 
it to another shop and wasn't happy with their 
results, so he was going to give me a chance at it based on a friend’s recommendation.
tp.gif“Bring it in tomorrow, and I'll get it checked out for you,” I told him.
tp.gifThe next day a 98 Nissan pickup with 150,000 miles on the odometer was waiting for me.  After getting the owner’s information, I went over what he wanted me to do.  Little did I know this guy had all the answers already.  Not only the answers, but several ideas as to what was causing his problem.  This particular guy was a full-fledged computer geek with more than a little attitude to go along with it. Not only did he think he was dead right about everything, but that every mechanic out there was nothing more than a knuckle dragging grease monkey with the IQ of a walnut.  The more he told me about the problem the more I knew I was in for a long afternoon.  Seems everything that was ever wrong with the car from the day he bought it was leading up to the moment the battery went dead.  But, of course, it's not dead now... that takes a month before it would happen.
tp.gif“A month?” I asked.
tp.gifOh, he had an answer for that too.  It all started with the front crankshaft seal. The seal was leaking, and it leaked all over the alternator, so he had the seal changed along with a new alternator and battery.  (Both the alternator and the battery came from one of those cheapo depot places; imagine where the seal came from.)  A month went by before the car wouldn't start again.  The seal was leaking too, but not nearly as bad.
tp.gif“Hmm,” I said, sitting at the service counter thinking this whole thing through, “You say it takes a month before it won't start?  Are you driving it much?”
tp.gif“Yes,” he said, “Every day.”
tp.gifThis didn't add up, something else is wrong with the car.  As I tried to explain to him that if a car is driven every day, and starts perfectly fine, but then all of a sudden it goes “click-click” it tells me there is something else wrong, and it's probably not a battery drain issue.
tp.gif“Leave it with me, and I'll check it out,” I told him,
tp.gifApparently, Mr. Geekdumb doesn't have a clue how a car works, other than where to put the gas and which way the key turns.  Not that I’d hold that against him, a lot of people don't know a thing about their transportation.  It's just that most people don't try to sound like they do, especially while standing in front of somebody that just might.
tp.gif   Once I had the truck in the shop it turned out to be a classic problem; the battery bolts were tightened down as far as they could go, but I could easily pull the cables off the battery without any effort at all.  The charge output and parasitic draw tests showed no signs of any problems. As for the seal leak. Well, if you've been around cars with high miles and poor maintenance you've probably seen this before.  The PCV valve was clogged.  Without that, no ventilation for the lower end, and of course, a back pressure builds up and that pressure has to go somewhere... usually out a seal, and the front seal is one of the usual places for it to go.
tp.gifExplaining all this to the computer nerd turned out to be a whole lot tougher than I thought possible.  How one person can act and think that they are so smart, but can't see the logic behind the explanation is beyond me.   The more I tried to explain, the more this guy asked even more bizarre questions.
tp.gifI gave him the run down on the battery clamp issues, “Yes, a loose battery clamp can make the car not start.  Sometimes you'll get one quick turn of the starter then nothing, not even a dome light. Other times you'll get a “click” which is what your car sounds like.  This can also stop or restrict the alternator charge output from entering the battery.” 
tp.gif“So, that’s why my dash lights don’t work?” he asked.
tp.gif“There's no relationship between the charge output and the dash lights.  That's a separate problem. Most likely the rheostat,” I said.
tp.gif“Well, what about the switch on my dome light, it doesn't work. I’m positive that is due to the front seal and the PVC you mentioned.”
tp.gif“Sir, it's a PCV not PVC, “Positive Crankcase Ventilation” is what it stands for, and no, it has nothing to do with your dome light.”
tp.gif“So I have two PCV’s in the car?”
tp.gif“No, just one.”
tp.gif“So where's the PVC?”
tp.gif“That would be in your house most likely. Most homes have PVC plastic piping.”
tp.gif“So, now you're telling me I don't have two PCV’s?”
tp.gif“I never said you had two.” 
tp.gifThis went on, and on.  My frustration level was getting to my MAX level, and I'm about to tell this guy just where he can put his PCV and his PVC.  But, after lengthy deliberations he eventually decided to have me at least fix something...one thing…change the battery clamps.  He had the solution for the dash lights, dome light, PCV, and the front seal. I apparently don't understand, or fail to comprehend how all his other problems are related to the dead battery.
tp.gifHe showed up later that day to pay for the clamp replacement, and it wasn't hard to tell this guy had an ego driven “micro” chip on his shoulder. He wasn't about to have some lowlife mechanic explain the physics of the internal combustion engine to such an astute individual as himself. 
       His parting comments as he walked out the door said it all.
tp.gif“I work on highly technical and advanced systems on home and business computers that are far above the complexities of anything you’ll ever see.  I'm better off fixing my own car, because I have a degree, and my intelligence level is far superior than any mechanic.”
tp.gifReally? That's the best you got? 
Better luck insulting me next time, fella…leaving is probably the smartest thing you’ve done so far… don’t let the door hit ya on the way out.   

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I find the real harm is in customer/repair shop relationships.   If you start your relationship at the repair shop with, "I already know what's wrong, and I know how to fix it... you just do what I tell you to." Is not a good way to begin.  This guy, well, he was probably the worst I had to deal with over the years.... because... he made it a point to tell me... straight to my face.... that I was subordinate to his refined education level.  If I was any less of a gentleman, and not an upstanding business owner... I would have reached across the counter and showed this guy the alternative uses for my extra large box end wrench.  

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very true,  but now you see even more of the ones you would not expect like the older women with a emissions fail in hand with the code on it or the parts store print out , saying they know what is wrong and hand you the paper and ask how much to fix it, when I tell them there will be a diagnostic charge, then I can tell them how much, they get angry and start saying things like " fine you don't want my business I will go somewhere else " or " your trying to rip me off I already know the problem it is here on the print out " I can go on and on but I won't LOL..  I am getting to the point where I tell them what the diagnostic will be and if they want me to look at it drop it off and at that point I have said my peace and go back to work..  Of course you always get the ones that " I have a tiny problem " and " let me show you something " ... I always tell them I have done this a long time and you aren't going to show me something I haven't seen before. So .......... " if you want me to look at it drop it off "

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  • Have you checked out Joe's Latest Blog?

      My son is not in the automotive industry. He is in the commercial real estate business. However, the workplace problems are the same. Recently, his frustration with the heads of the company reached an all-time high. When I asked him why he doesn’t speak up and let the leadership know how he is feeling, he responded, “Anyone who has voiced concerns or issues has been viewed as weak and incapable of doing their job. I don’t want to be viewed like that.” This is an example of a toxic work environment.
      If you are a shop owner, you are a leader. And leaders must be approachable. That means that you are willing to hear the concerns of others and have them express themselves. It also means that while you may not agree with someone’s perspective on an issue, it is their perspective, and that viewpoint needs to be recognized and respected.
      Make it known that you want to hear the opinions of others. Literally, ask for input from others. And thank those that speak up. Now, I am not saying that you need to act on every concern or opinion. That would not be realistic. But just listening may be enough. And you never know, someone in your company may have an idea that you never thought about and even improve your business.
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