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It's Alive! It's Alive! - - Dr. Frankenstein vs a mechanic -- same but different


Gonzo

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It’s Alive! It’s Alive!

Dr. Frankenstein waited for just the right thunderstorm to attach the clamps to his creation. As Igor threw each dead man switch into action a shower of sparks flew from the control panel. You could see the high voltage coursing through the Frankenstein creature as the lightning changed the shadowy glow of the laboratory. His pieced together monster began to thrive and move about. Then, with its arms stretched out straight, and its large hands dangling, it rose from the table and walked across the room. Dr. Frankenstein shouted out, “It’s Alive! It’s Alive!”

 

For a mechanic, bringing a car back to life may not be as spine tingling or as thrilling as an edge of your seat horror flick, but there are a few times when a few sparks might fly and some smoke might come rolling out from under the hood. In a way it could be compared to a horror scene sometimes, and it probably will make the hair stand up on the back of the boss’ neck, but it’s not Hollywood material. Although, it can make for a rather entertaining afternoon at the shop.

 

I guess in some peculiar way a mechanics job is somewhat like being Dr. Frankenstein. Let’s face it, on a daily basis a mechanic brings the dead back to life. We wander through the dead silence of creepy bone yards for body parts and other needed essentials from discarded creatures of the road. If need be, we’ll work late into the night like a mad scientist ripping the parts out of the donor with hammers, saws, and other tools. Then, like a fine surgeon, we’ll carefully stitch the replacement parts into our latest creation. After all the pieces are in place we’ll fill the different cavities with their proper bodily fluids, and then zap some electricity through its veins.

 

Even after all these years I still act a little like Dr. Frankenstein when the first signs of life emerge from the latest resurrection. Although, I’ve never used a lighting storm to bring a car back from the dead, a few extra jolts from the battery charger doesn’t hurt one bit.

Just like Dr. Frankenstein, a mechanic usually works in his laboratory (service bay) in solitude. Sometimes with a helper or an apprentice whose main tasks are collecting those various parts, throw switches, turning dials, holding body parts in place, and observing (and learning) what’s going on, while peering over the mechanic’s shoulder. All this, while using advanced technical, mechanical, and electrical processes that are only vaguely understood by the general mass of commoners out on the city streets. In the service bay (laboratory), mechanics and their helpers take those seemingly impossible arrangements of various materials and create a beast with unbelievable strength and power, and in some instances, their own version of a Frankenstein monster.

 

In the movie, those town folks said Dr. Frankenstein had to be crazy for thinking he could put this monster together, and even crazier to think he could bring it back to life. But, I’m sure there are quite a few common city dwellers out there who would think the same thing about a mechanic, if they ever saw all the bits and pieces strung out on the service bay floor that needed to be removed to change out a heater core on some cars.

 

Old Doc. Frankenstein could have used a few lessons in customer service, though. The last thing you want to see is an angry mob heading to your castle (or shop) because your latest creation has terrorized the town, or left somebody’s daughter stranded on the side of the road on a dark and gloomy night. I don’t think I would have fared any better than Dr. Frankenstein did when the townspeople came a calling with pitch forks, snarly faces, and flaming torches. Then again, I’m no Dr. Frankenstein. I’m not creating a one-time monster out of used parts. I have to bring these demons of the road back to life every day, and unlike the doctor… I’ve got more than just two different models to deal with!

 

Not to say old Doc Frankenstein didn’t have a few various attempts of improving on his stitched together creation along the way, you know, “Bride of Frankenstein”, “Frankenstein meets the Mummy”, and so on… but, none of them worked out any better than his first try. Ya can’t have that kind of success rate in the automotive trade though. Whether it’s a mummy or a daddy’s car the mechanic’s job is to bring them back to life as quickly and as efficiently as possible. I suppose it’s a good thing Frankenstein was a doctor in a horror flick and not a mechanic. His track record wasn’t all that impressive.

Still in all, to take a piece of machinery that hasn’t been in use or unproductive for years and then bring it back to life is like seeing Frankenstein’s monster rise off of that operating table for me. There’s a certain testosterone appeal in seeing your latest creation go from a pile of miscellaneous parts to a machine that roars to life as you open its throttle. I don’t know of any mechanic who doesn’t get a little bit of that Dr. Frankenstein grin on their face as the fumes and vibrations fill the garage when their latest accomplishment comes to life.

I suppose there’s a touch of ol’ Dr. Frankenstein in everyone. For some of us, we’ve taken that horror movie idea of bringing things back to life (mechanical things that is) as part of our own occupation. Oh sure, there’s a lot of boring, mundane chores in the mechanic world that have to be performed on a daily basis. It’s not at all like in the movies, you know. There are oil changes, radiator flushes, and other boring, run of the mill repairs that need to be done.

 

But, when the chance comes along to bring a piece of machinery back to its gear grinding, throttle snarling, sparks flying former self, you can bet we’ll be there in the shop. It might even be one of those stormy nights just like in the movie. With the flickering glow of the lightning dancing across the garage wall, and the thunder claps echoing in the distance, we’ll hook up the cables, and bring that metal monster back from the dead. And, I’m sure, we’ll be saying the same thing ol’ Doc. Frankenstein said so well in those movies, “It’s Alive! It’s Alive!”

 

 

 


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I enjoy writing these stories, and some of them do get published. I need to start thinking about taking some of the best ones and putting them into my next book. Publishing is expensive, and very little return on your investment, but... it ain't about the money as much as it is about putting a smile on a mechanics face after dealing with all the stuff we deal with.

 

Might as well keep writing. Seems to be pretty popular. LOL

 

As a mechanic/shop owner/ all that other stuff I do, creating a topic, a theme, and putting something down that's fun to read is still my all time favorite thing to do.

 

My kids used to love it when I'd tell a story to them that I made up (kids stories) they will always be my favorite audience.

 

Glad ya like the articles, and I'll keep coming up with new "themes" ya just never know what the next one will be... and neither do I.

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      It always amazes me when I hear about a technician who quits one repair shop to go work at another shop for less money. I know you have heard of this too, and you’ve probably asked yourself, “Can this be true? And Why?” The answer rests within the culture of the company. More specifically, the boss, manager, or a toxic work environment literally pushed the technician out the door.
      While money and benefits tend to attract people to a company, it won’t keep them there. When a technician begins to look over the fence for greener grass, that is usually a sign that something is wrong within the workplace. It also means that his or her heart is probably already gone. If the issue is not resolved, no amount of money will keep that technician for the long term. The heart is always the first to leave. The last thing that leaves is the technician’s toolbox.
      Shop owners: Focus more on employee retention than acquisition. This is not to say that you should not be constantly recruiting. You should. What it does means is that once you hire someone, your job isn’t over, that’s when it begins. Get to know your technicians. Build strong relationships. Have frequent one-on-ones. Engage in meaningful conversation. Find what truly motivates your technicians. You may be surprised that while money is a motivator, it’s usually not the prime motivator.
      One last thing; the cost of technician turnover can be financially devastating. It also affects shop morale. Do all you can to create a workplace where technicians feel they are respected, recognized, and know that their work contributes to the overall success of the company. This will lead to improved morale and team spirit. Remember, when you see a technician’s toolbox rolling out of the bay on its way to another shop, the heart was most likely gone long before that.
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