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Article: The Man Behind the Curtain - - - Even in the land of OZ, somebody has to keep the wizard in check.

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The Man Behind the Curtain



Here in my fantasy land, my daughter Katie is the gate keeper to the Emerald City. One of her main tasks is sorting out the cars for repair by type, length of time needed, or condition. My job is to play the part of the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-understanding wizard. I try to keep the flying monkey wrenches from pulling the stuffing out of everything, while still maintaining an even temperament throughout my busy day. But then there are those travelers on that yellow brick road that leave me puzzled, sometimes shocked at what they are telling me. These are the ones I let her handle; especially on those days when I’m already in a bad mood because my crystal ball isn’t working.


“Yes, I’m having a problem with my car,” The customer tells Katie at the front desk, “the last mechanic said my air filter caused my radio and door locks to short out.”


Sitting at my desk just out of sight, I’m listening to this fable. By now Katie can hear my pen rhythmically start clicking; which she already knows is a sign we have another traveler from the yellow brick road. As the story unfolds I’ll start to grumble or throw in a few timely grunts or coughs all while maintaining my position behind the curtain. My daughters (and my wife) have been around my wizardry far too long. If I’m having one of those days, and somebody comes in with a fable like this one… the best thing to do is take care of it in the front office without getting me involved. They’ll all agree, “Just leave him be, he’ll be fine back there behind the curtain fixing the cars, pulling those levers and stuff. Just leave him be, he’ll make some fire, flame, and smoke belch out from around the corner, but he’s actually harmless.”



Katie answers the customers concerns, “Honestly, I may not be the technician here… but, I think I can answer this one for you… I seriously doubt that could happen. However, if you can give me some more details on what the actual problem is, I can relay that message to him.”


“Can I just talk to him myself?” the customer will ask.


“Let me do you a big favor,” Katie pleads with them, “I don’t think you want to bother him with that kind of question. He’s already in a grouchy mood today, and I think you better leave the asking part to me. He’ll fix it, but believe me when I tell you… pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. He can be a little on the grouchy side sometimes, and if you ask him a question like that you may not like his answer.”


Yea, that’s right, I might just be in a grouchy mood, or… it could be that stupid sounding question that set me off… whatever it is, I would take Katie’s advice and let her handle it.


I know I’m not the only shop owner/technician who deals with this kind of thing. Whether your mood starts off from a bad cup of morning coffee or the hundreds other things on your mind, or the half dozen car problems you need to sort out with only a certain amount of time to do them all in. Sooner or later your patience can start to wear thin.


Even on those days I try to accommodate as many people as I can, as quickly as I can, but it never fails someone is going to come in and ask some question that you don’t need to be a wizard of the automotive world to answer.


“I need all my spark plugs removed. I read somewhere that spark plugs burn gasoline, so leaving them out will get me better gas mileage,” this genius from the land of OZ tells me.


Cars must really be some sort of fantasy for some people. That or they’re a few bricks shy a full load. On days like this, seriously, just let me deal with the cars, and let the front office deal with these fantasy land questions. It just boggles my mind how many people are out there flying around on their brooms without a clue how they actually work.


My wife calls running the front office; “Damage control”, she’s pretty sure if it was left up to me the only work I would have is the ones that were dropped off at the gates to the city or the front door with a note and a spare key.


If they manage to get past the gate keeper, they now have to be ready to deal with the smoke and flames spewing from that big head I seem to have (according to my wife). They’ll try to reword the same questions they just tried in the front office (that didn’t get anywhere) in different ways, just in case I might change the answer. By the time I’ve heard these fables in their third or fourth variation, I’ve had about all I can stand. (More flames and more smoke start emanating from that big fat head again.)


Needless to say, I’m probably my own worst enemy when it comes to things like this. Although, my wife and my daughters will tell you, “He might strike you at first, like a mean old grizzly bear, especially if you ask him something stupid. But deep down he’s just a big old teddy bear. He’s got a heart of gold, the courage of a lion, and pretty darn smart to top it off. Ya just don’t want to rile him up when he is in one of those moods.”


I got to admit, there’s no lollypop tree in my backyard. There’s no sugar coating my answers around here, and clicking your heels three times isn’t going to fix the car at all. Magic only works in fairy tales, good diagnostics starts with the proper information.


So for all those shop owners, technician, bodyman, etc… out there who have a tendency to roll your eyes when somebody asks that ultra-dumb question… you’re not alone.


Fantasy or not, there’s a whole lot of us wizards out there who probably should stay behind the curtain a little more often and let the front office sort out those horses of a different color ……………………………… including me.




I know I'm not the only shop owner or tech out there that runs into these type of customers. Luckily, my gals in the front office help soften the wackiness by the time I get the work order. But... there are those days... oh man... I really just want to get in my big hot air balloon and leaves these idiots deal with their own strange problems. (just kiddin' of course)

Nothing like sharing our good and bad days with each other... we all have them.




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