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Gonzo

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About Gonzo

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  • Birthday 01/10/1959

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    9911 e. 5th st., Tulsa, Oklahoma, 74146
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    ASE CMAT
    USMC
    TEA (Tulsa Executive Association) Past president and chairman of the board
    FATHER, HUSBAND,

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  1. BTW, the wooden car... it's one of the many models I have built over the years. Built from scratch too.
  2. Car and Driver The technical changes most everyone is familiar with have more to do with emissions or performance issues. But, let’s step back a bit and look at the whole thing from the occupant’s vantage point. You know, what changes has the driver had to endure? When the horse and buggy were still rulers of the open road, cars were just a tinkerers dream. Actually those open roads were more like uneven ditches with wagon wheel ruts, but a road none the less. The first cars had to adapt to those rutted roads and of course, and the driver had take his fair share of bumps and bruises just to prove his new horseless carriage was up to the task. It wasn’t long before a confrontation between the staunch horse and buggy drivers and the scarf wearing, goggle protected new-fangled automobile occupants came to a cross road. Laws were enacted that a man had to walk at least 50 paces in front of the car holding a raised red flag to warn fellow travelers (mainly the horses) to be aware of this metal contraption belching noxious fumes while sputtering along at the amazing speed of 7 mph. Later, it was the horse and buggies turn to have a red flag warning assistant in front of them as the roles of were reversed. Before long, a horn was mounted to the side of the car creating this obnoxious sound that not only scared the remaining horses but annoyed every passerby as well. The model T has always been considered the father of the new age of automobiles. But, there were a lot of improvements other than the assembly line that came along around the same time period. Later, enclosed cabs were added into the latest designs with retractable windows and a hard top. Heating systems were incorporated along with other creature comforts. All of these changes made the ride that much more enjoyable, and of course, sold a lot more cars. Eventually the pedals of the model T were replaced with the standard three pedal design, which made operating the car a bit more “driver-friendly”. Changing gears was made easier with a shift lever instead mashing down the pedal for low and up for high as in the model T. Cold starting a car was still an issue, but instead of getting out of the car and raising the hood, a lever on the dash could be pulled out for cold starts and in when the engine warmed up. The electric “automatic” choke followed years later which meant one less chore the driver had to accomplish. Hand starting your car was the norm. Even with careful instructions there was still the potential of a few wrench elbows and a couple of broken bones from simply trying to get the car started for that weekend jaunt around the country side. An electric starter was the answer. Now all the driver had to do was mash a pedal on the floor to accomplish the same task. When the automatic transmission made its debut a person’s strength or ability to shift correctly wasn’t important in operating a vehicle. The car was becoming even more user friendly. The huge steering wheels could now be replaced with a much smaller version incorporated with power steering. Brakes, wipers, suspension, steering, lighting, heating, and air conditioning improvements meant less effort and far less exertion on the driver’s part to control the vehicle while being enclosed in their very own micro climate controlled environment. The car was becoming what some said in the 50’s as ‘futuristic’. True, yes… but Oh, if they only knew what was coming off those assembly lines just a few decades later. Thoughts changed to emission controls and safety issues during the 60’s and 70’s. Speed limits, bumper heights, seat belts, safety glass, were required from all the manufacturers. Those creature comforts were not forgotten about either. Smoother rides, better tires, and lush interiors were on the minds of every manufacturer. But, it was only the beginning of things to come. We’ve zoomed through the jet set age, moon landings, and the smog, to come face to face with the electronic age or what some would call the computer age. Cars aren’t wired together with bulky switches, relays, and mechanical linkages anymore, most everything is data signals, sensors and plastic. Not only is the modern car a rolling computer controlling all aspects of the emissions and passenger comfort it is also can be seen, controlled, and monitored by outside sources. Let’s face it, the days of you holding your hand out of the window to signal or move that seldom used device on the side of the steering column to tell other drivers of your intentions of a right turn may be entirely left up to a computer and not yourself. The car will soon talk to the other cars on the road and they’ll all know what your destination is, and the route you’re taking. All you need to do is tell the car to ‘Go’. In the near future, the only requirement to “drive” a car is to be able to push ‘enter’. Traffic lights, R&R crossings, and highway congestion can all be controlled by a system of checks and balances. You won’t need to know how to shift the transmission, how to use a road map, decide which wiper speed to use, signal for a turn, judge when the high beams need to be dimmed, or control your traveling speed. You won’t have to do a thing except to be patient and wait in the comfort of your car while you arrive at your destination safe and sound. When that day comes, you won’t need a steering wheel, pedals, or even a horn. Today’s standard safety features such as air bags, have saved countless lives, but it’s possible that a new and far more advanced crash avoidance system may even make the air bag system as obsolete as the guy with the red flag. Multiple position seating with heat, massage, and air conditioning, automatic tinted windows, premium sound systems, navigation, active cruise control, parking assist, touch screen commands, voice recognition, and an endless variety of other creature comforts are available. Honestly, some of these creature comforts are far better than what I have at home! But, it’s our car, our transportation, something we spend several hours in and of course, we want it to be just the way we like it. It’s no wonder you hear that today’s generation can’t drive a stick shift, or how they’ve never heard of “three on the tree”, let alone understand the three pedals on a model T. Those technologies are from a different time, a different era, and are not part of the modern world. In fact, most new cars don’t even have a shifter of any sort. Everything is done by the push of a button. Talk about occupant evolution! What do you think the next generation of drivers are ‘not’ going to need to know that you need to know today? It’s very possible that an ignition key will only be found in a museum, and I’ll bet they probably won’t understand what a door key was used for. Soon, those automatous cars won’t be something we’ve heard about, but will be the average-everyday car on the road. Now, the only reason to have a guy holding a red flag is to keep the crowd back from the cars on display at the weekend car show. But, through all the evolutionary changes for the car and driver, one thing has remained a constant. The seldom appreciated, hardly thanked, and least likely to be respected by the hustling-bustling-fast paced money-chasing drivers of these new-fangled contraptions… the person we couldn’t do without… the mechanic. As long as they make some form of transportation, and continually make it more complicated the more we need the educated and highly skilled technician to keep things in tip top shape. Today’s average driver knows far less about their cars than the previous generation. Although the mechanic needs to know quite a bit more than their predecessors. Before a driver was responsible for nearly every function of the car, but those functions have been passed onto computer signals. The responsibility of keeping those computer signals flowing has fallen onto the mechanic. So, if you like all of your cars bells and whistles, thank a design engineer. If you’d like to keep all those bells and whistles working…thank a mechanic. There may not be a ‘driver’ for every car in the future, unfortunately, they’ve been evolved out of the picture. But, you can be sure one thing… there will still be a need for a mechanic.
  3. Car and Driver The technical changes most everyone is familiar with have more to do with emissions or performance issues. But, let’s step back a bit and look at the whole thing from the occupant’s vantage point. You know, what changes has the driver had to endure? When the horse and buggy were still rulers of the open road, cars were just a tinkerers dream. Actually those open roads were more like uneven ditches with wagon wheel ruts, but a road none the less. The first cars had to adapt to those rutted roads and of course, and the driver had take his fair share of bumps and bruises just to prove his new horseless carriage was up to the task. It wasn’t long before a confrontation between the staunch horse and buggy drivers and the scarf wearing, goggle protected new-fangled automobile occupants came to a cross road. Laws were enacted that a man had to walk at least 50 paces in front of the car holding a raised red flag to warn fellow travelers (mainly the horses) to be aware of this metal contraption belching noxious fumes while sputtering along at the amazing speed of 7 mph. Later, it was the horse and buggies turn to have a red flag warning assistant in front of them as the roles of were reversed. Before long, a horn was mounted to the side of the car creating this obnoxious sound that not only scared the remaining horses but annoyed every passerby as well. The model T has always been considered the father of the new age of automobiles. But, there were a lot of improvements other than the assembly line that came along around the same time period. Later, enclosed cabs were added into the latest designs with retractable windows and a hard top. Heating systems were incorporated along with other creature comforts. All of these changes made the ride that much more enjoyable, and of course, sold a lot more cars. Eventually the pedals of the model T were replaced with the standard three pedal design, which made operating the car a bit more “driver-friendly”. Changing gears was made easier with a shift lever instead mashing down the pedal for low and up for high as in the model T. Cold starting a car was still an issue, but instead of getting out of the car and raising the hood, a lever on the dash could be pulled out for cold starts and in when the engine warmed up. The electric “automatic” choke followed years later which meant one less chore the driver had to accomplish. Hand starting your car was the norm. Even with careful instructions there was still the potential of a few wrench elbows and a couple of broken bones from simply trying to get the car started for that weekend jaunt around the country side. An electric starter was the answer. Now all the driver had to do was mash a pedal on the floor to accomplish the same task. When the automatic transmission made its debut a person’s strength or ability to shift correctly wasn’t important in operating a vehicle. The car was becoming even more user friendly. The huge steering wheels could now be replaced with a much smaller version incorporated with power steering. Brakes, wipers, suspension, steering, lighting, heating, and air conditioning improvements meant less effort and far less exertion on the driver’s part to control the vehicle while being enclosed in their very own micro climate controlled environment. The car was becoming what some said in the 50’s as ‘futuristic’. True, yes… but Oh, if they only knew what was coming off those assembly lines just a few decades later. Thoughts changed to emission controls and safety issues during the 60’s and 70’s. Speed limits, bumper heights, seat belts, safety glass, were required from all the manufacturers. Those creature comforts were not forgotten about either. Smoother rides, better tires, and lush interiors were on the minds of every manufacturer. But, it was only the beginning of things to come. We’ve zoomed through the jet set age, moon landings, and the smog, to come face to face with the electronic age or what some would call the computer age. Cars aren’t wired together with bulky switches, relays, and mechanical linkages anymore, most everything is data signals, sensors and plastic. Not only is the modern car a rolling computer controlling all aspects of the emissions and passenger comfort it is also can be seen, controlled, and monitored by outside sources. Let’s face it, the days of you holding your hand out of the window to signal or move that seldom used device on the side of the steering column to tell other drivers of your intentions of a right turn may be entirely left up to a computer and not yourself. The car will soon talk to the other cars on the road and they’ll all know what your destination is, and the route you’re taking. All you need to do is tell the car to ‘Go’. In the near future, the only requirement to “drive” a car is to be able to push ‘enter’. Traffic lights, R&R crossings, and highway congestion can all be controlled by a system of checks and balances. You won’t need to know how to shift the transmission, how to use a road map, decide which wiper speed to use, signal for a turn, judge when the high beams need to be dimmed, or control your traveling speed. You won’t have to do a thing except to be patient and wait in the comfort of your car while you arrive at your destination safe and sound. When that day comes, you won’t need a steering wheel, pedals, or even a horn. Today’s standard safety features such as air bags, have saved countless lives, but it’s possible that a new and far more advanced crash avoidance system may even make the air bag system as obsolete as the guy with the red flag. Multiple position seating with heat, massage, and air conditioning, automatic tinted windows, premium sound systems, navigation, active cruise control, parking assist, touch screen commands, voice recognition, and an endless variety of other creature comforts are available. Honestly, some of these creature comforts are far better than what I have at home! But, it’s our car, our transportation, something we spend several hours in and of course, we want it to be just the way we like it. It’s no wonder you hear that today’s generation can’t drive a stick shift, or how they’ve never heard of “three on the tree”, let alone understand the three pedals on a model T. Those technologies are from a different time, a different era, and are not part of the modern world. In fact, most new cars don’t even have a shifter of any sort. Everything is done by the push of a button. Talk about occupant evolution! What do you think the next generation of drivers are ‘not’ going to need to know that you need to know today? It’s very possible that an ignition key will only be found in a museum, and I’ll bet they probably won’t understand what a door key was used for. Soon, those automatous cars won’t be something we’ve heard about, but will be the average-everyday car on the road. Now, the only reason to have a guy holding a red flag is to keep the crowd back from the cars on display at the weekend car show. But, through all the evolutionary changes for the car and driver, one thing has remained a constant. The seldom appreciated, hardly thanked, and least likely to be respected by the hustling-bustling-fast paced money-chasing drivers of these new-fangled contraptions… the person we couldn’t do without… the mechanic. As long as they make some form of transportation, and continually make it more complicated the more we need the educated and highly skilled technician to keep things in tip top shape. Today’s average driver knows far less about their cars than the previous generation. Although the mechanic needs to know quite a bit more than their predecessors. Before a driver was responsible for nearly every function of the car, but those functions have been passed onto computer signals. The responsibility of keeping those computer signals flowing has fallen onto the mechanic. So, if you like all of your cars bells and whistles, thank a design engineer. If you’d like to keep all those bells and whistles working…thank a mechanic. There may not be a ‘driver’ for every car in the future, unfortunately, they’ve been evolved out of the picture. But, you can be sure one thing… there will still be a need for a mechanic. View full article
  4. Vision KC

    Haven't missed Vision for over 15 years. I'll be there.
  5. thank you for all your comments. Sarge, like many of our customers, became more than a customer. Over the years we shared a lot of laughs , stories of our families, our time in service, and life in general with each other. To this day I can still hear his drill instructor growl that he would blare out as he would come into my shop with his TEN HUT greeting. Old Sarge, well, in the big world, he's just another face in the crowd. But, to me he's a king, and I'd like to think my little story about him will live on in his memory for years to come. I'm sure he'd be proud of it. Because people like Sarge are not just a veteran, they're our friends, neighbors, brothers, sisters, fathers, and mothers. But most of all they're people that took an oath to uphold the values of this great country with their very own life if needed. That's what makes them stand out in a crowd and king in my book. Never forget a Vet!
  6. Old Sarge I met this great man through his son, who happened to be the driver of that Chevy van from the furniture store that was my very first customer. Sarge isn’t his real name, but that’s what I called him. He was a retired Marine Corps cook. I met him one day when he came in with a sick Cadillac. The old Cadillac hardly had any power at all; just as slow and lazy as a snail. I was only in business for a few months, and didn’t know anybody. I didn’t have any work to speak of, so even though it wasn’t an electrical problem (as he originally thought), I jumped right in and found the problem. It was a clogged catalytic converter. Unbelievably, it wasn’t even welded in place. I could take off the clamps, and remove it without much hassle. Back then I didn’t have a lift to put the car in the air, so I had to do the whole job on the ground. Well, old Sarge just sat there and watched me do the whole thing. I think he was a little suspicious of this skinny little white kid who was hacking away at his car, but he patiently waited, being the good man he was. We got to talking about things, and it wasn’t long before he found out that I was also in Marine Corps. Now we had some common ground. We were buds for life, always cutting up with each other. One hot August afternoon Sarge brought in one of his other cars to get some work done. I had the back door to the shop open, and Sarge steps outside for a little fresh air. I thought I could hear the guy crying or mumbling something, couldn’t tell which it was. I stuck my head around the corner, “Sarge, ah …. you ok, buddy?” I asked. He proceeded to tell me how the house he grew up in was close by, before it became a shopping center. He talked about his dad and family, and how he hunted rabbits right where we were standing. It was during the Depression. Hard times, and things were scarce in those days. How his dad hid a pig in a pit, not too far from here. Where they kept the corn mash for making moon shine. I sat and listened to this hardened Marine tell me his life’s story that day, from his first car to how he ended up in the Corps. I didn’t answer the phone, or go up front to see if anyone came in. I just sat out there in that August heat, drenched in sweat, listening to this fella tell me his life story. I’ll never forget that afternoon. I’ll also never forget how every time he came to my shop over the next 25 years he would sneak up on me, and yell in a drill instructor voice, “TEN HUT!” I would snap to attention just like a good Marine should. Sometimes, just to get a rise out of Sarge I would purposely hit my head on the hood of the car I was working on. He got a kick out of it every time. Sarge passed away a couple years back. I still think about him now and then. I hope he’s up there hunting rabbits, or something. Maybe he’s guarding the gates like every Marine hopes to be doing when their time comes. Or, he could be just waiting there to try and surprise me with one more “TEN HUT” when I show up. Sarge, I miss having you around the shop. Semper Fi
  7. Old Sarge I met this great man through his son, who happened to be the driver of that Chevy van from the furniture store that was my very first customer. Sarge isn’t his real name, but that’s what I called him. He was a retired Marine Corps cook. I met him one day when he came in with a sick Cadillac. The old Cadillac hardly had any power at all; just as slow and lazy as a snail. I was only in business for a few months, and didn’t know anybody. I didn’t have any work to speak of, so even though it wasn’t an electrical problem (as he originally thought), I jumped right in and found the problem. It was a clogged catalytic converter. Unbelievably, it wasn’t even welded in place. I could take off the clamps, and remove it without much hassle. Back then I didn’t have a lift to put the car in the air, so I had to do the whole job on the ground. Well, old Sarge just sat there and watched me do the whole thing. I think he was a little suspicious of this skinny little white kid who was hacking away at his car, but he patiently waited, being the good man he was. We got to talking about things, and it wasn’t long before he found out that I was also in Marine Corps. Now we had some common ground. We were buds for life, always cutting up with each other. One hot August afternoon Sarge brought in one of his other cars to get some work done. I had the back door to the shop open, and Sarge steps outside for a little fresh air. I thought I could hear the guy crying or mumbling something, couldn’t tell which it was. I stuck my head around the corner, “Sarge, ah …. you ok, buddy?” I asked. He proceeded to tell me how the house he grew up in was close by, before it became a shopping center. He talked about his dad and family, and how he hunted rabbits right where we were standing. It was during the Depression. Hard times, and things were scarce in those days. How his dad hid a pig in a pit, not too far from here. Where they kept the corn mash for making moon shine. I sat and listened to this hardened Marine tell me his life’s story that day, from his first car to how he ended up in the Corps. I didn’t answer the phone, or go up front to see if anyone came in. I just sat out there in that August heat, drenched in sweat, listening to this fella tell me his life story. I’ll never forget that afternoon. I’ll also never forget how every time he came to my shop over the next 25 years he would sneak up on me, and yell in a drill instructor voice, “TEN HUT!” I would snap to attention just like a good Marine should. Sometimes, just to get a rise out of Sarge I would purposely hit my head on the hood of the car I was working on. He got a kick out of it every time. Sarge passed away a couple years back. I still think about him now and then. I hope he’s up there hunting rabbits, or something. Maybe he’s guarding the gates like every Marine hopes to be doing when their time comes. Or, he could be just waiting there to try and surprise me with one more “TEN HUT” when I show up. Sarge, I miss having you around the shop. Semper Fi View full article
  8. Yep, at least he paid for the job. LOL. Unlike some of the BMW/MBenz folks that call and won't spend a penny on diag. time. NOW, those guys really waste my time. I've got better things to do than to explain diag. fees to someone who has no intention of ever spending any cash on a car they can't afford to drive ... let alone repair. Where's that sand and beach at!?
  9. One Penny at a Time One year I thought I’d try something to drum up some new business. I’ll try a cash discount for large jobs. Maybe this will bring in those new customers. It sounded like a good idea at the time, but as they say, “The best laid plans of mice and men….” certainly got involved on this little adventure. The cash discount was going to run for a month, just to see if it was going to work. All expectations looked promising. Jobs from a few weeks earlier had been contacted and informed of the new promotion to see if they’d like to reschedule that big job they were putting off. Almost all of them set an appointment before the promotion deadline. Soon, the shop was bustling with new activity and jobs were getting stacked up waiting for an open service bay. Unfortunately, as usual, there’s always one sourpuss who has to ruin all the fun for everyone else. Mr. Gripey came to the shop for an engine swap. He was your typical bargain hunter/never going to be a regular/always had a complaint type customer. As he put it, “I’m going to be your number 1 customer, if you can get me done on time.” I assured Mr. Gripey that everyone is our number 1 customer here and we would do everything we could to get him done, within reason, in a timely manner. It was just another Ford Ranger V6 engine swap. Nothing different from any other V6 Ranger we’ve done. That is except for Mr. Gripey, of course. His periodic snooping and interrogating questioning of the mechanic (and his mentor) about the job was relentless. It never fails, you get a snoopy-arrogant person barging in on the work the outcome is the same. It spells d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r every time something like this happens. I was prepared for the inevitable and personally took on the job of double checking every part, every fastener, and every existing blemish on the vehicle just to be sure there was nothing Mr. Gripey could question once the job was completed. The engine slipped back in place without a hitch, and every nut and bolt was torqued down to specs. Everything was going as planned, except for one small detail. The promised date of delivery. Because of the work load and the arrival of the replacement engine, we missed his scheduled time of departure from the service bay by one whole day. This was all the fodder Mr. Gripey needed to begin his wrath of expletives and insults as to how awful we’ve made the entire experience. Was I surprised? No, not at all. Now he wanted an even bigger discount than what the promotion had offered. I offered my condolences and gave a bit more off the top of the cost of the job. That wasn’t good enough. He wanted it for free now. Of course, that’s not going to happen. Now, he has decided to refuse to pay for the job. Several days passed between unanswered phone calls and messages left for Mr. Gripey to return for his vehicle. The daily reconnoitering of the service bay when his truck was being serviced came to an end too. The mechanic and his apprentice mentor were relieved to move onto the next project. Me, I was still stuck with the task of collecting the balance on the job. Which, is usually a rather pleasant experience filled with smiles and thank yous followed by a check, credit card, or cash. But, not this time. A week has gone by and Mr. Gripey hasn’t made an entrance yet. Time for one more phone call, but this time with a little added incentive. Mr. Gripey is going to be informed about storage charges for keeping his little pickup behind locked doors and that the charges would keep adding up until he showed up. He was given a grace period until the end of the week, and if we didn’t hear from him by then… the storage charges would start from the day of this phone call. It’s no surprise, Mr. Gripey managed to show up at the shop that very afternoon. “I’m here to pay my bill and get my truck out of your $&^#*!!! shop,” he said, in a very disgruntled manner. I gave him the total and said, “That’ll be cash, sir.” I wasn’t about to give this guy a chance to walk out with the keys with anything less than a paid in full with good ol' “American currency” and a completed repair singed off. Mr. Gripey turned around and went out to his car and returned with three large bank bags. He tossed the bags onto the counter and said, “Here ya go. Count it if you feel like it.” The bags were full of good old American currency alright, all of it … … … entirely pennies. “I’ll take my truck now. If you don’t mind,” Mr. Gripey said. I looked at the pile of coins starting to pour slowly out of the split open bag and looked back up at Mr. Gripey, “Uhm, sir, this is legal tender alright, but this is no way to pay your bill. But, in your case I’ll accept the payment only after it has been fully counted,” I said to him, trying to stare down his angry gaze, “So, just have a seat and I’ll get this counted and when it has been counted I’ll gladly hand the keys over to you.” Mr. Gripey hadn’t planned his little caper out as well as he had thought. He thought I was just going to hand the keys over and I’d be stuck with several hours of counting pennies while he was long gone with a smirk on his face thinking he just pulled a fast one on a repair shop. The fact is, he wasn't getting the keys until I had every last penny was counted. With some help from the crew, we sat in the front office counting each and every penny one after another. And no, I wasn’t about to give the guy the satisfaction of taking the bags to the bank and have them counted. I wanted him to sit there waiting the hours it took to have it all hand counted. It was by far the best bonding time I had with the crew. As we counted we talked about jobs in the shop, what was coming up next, tools, where we wanted to be in the next few years, our families, kids, and pastimes. Indirectly, Mr. Gripey did us all a huge favor by allowing us all to have a few hours of time together away from the wrenches. We kept at it until we finished and never once did we remain quiet or stop for breaks. By the time the last penny was counted we were all tired of stacking pennies. We could finally get up from our chore and get Mr. Gripey out the door with his truck and warranty paper work. His warranty has expired a long time ago and if it was no surprise, he never did come back for even an oil change. I’ve been paid with all kinds of things over the years. From a stack of Susan B Anthony coins to a case of beer. But, this was the first time anyone paid for an entire job with sacks full of pennies. Just for the record, if there is a next time… I’m not counting all those pennies again. I’ll let the bank to do it and make the guy come back the next day. Just don’t tell Mr. Gripey that. He still may need another lesson or two on how to act civil at a repair shop. Even if it is one penny at a time. View full article
  10. One Penny at a Time One year I thought I’d try something to drum up some new business. I’ll try a cash discount for large jobs. Maybe this will bring in those new customers. It sounded like a good idea at the time, but as they say, “The best laid plans of mice and men….” certainly got involved on this little adventure. The cash discount was going to run for a month, just to see if it was going to work. All expectations looked promising. Jobs from a few weeks earlier had been contacted and informed of the new promotion to see if they’d like to reschedule that big job they were putting off. Almost all of them set an appointment before the promotion deadline. Soon, the shop was bustling with new activity and jobs were getting stacked up waiting for an open service bay. Unfortunately, as usual, there’s always one sourpuss who has to ruin all the fun for everyone else. Mr. Gripey came to the shop for an engine swap. He was your typical bargain hunter/never going to be a regular/always had a complaint type customer. As he put it, “I’m going to be your number 1 customer, if you can get me done on time.” I assured Mr. Gripey that everyone is our number 1 customer here and we would do everything we could to get him done, within reason, in a timely manner. It was just another Ford Ranger V6 engine swap. Nothing different from any other V6 Ranger we’ve done. That is except for Mr. Gripey, of course. His periodic snooping and interrogating questioning of the mechanic (and his mentor) about the job was relentless. It never fails, you get a snoopy-arrogant person barging in on the work the outcome is the same. It spells d-i-s-a-s-t-e-r every time something like this happens. I was prepared for the inevitable and personally took on the job of double checking every part, every fastener, and every existing blemish on the vehicle just to be sure there was nothing Mr. Gripey could question once the job was completed. The engine slipped back in place without a hitch, and every nut and bolt was torqued down to specs. Everything was going as planned, except for one small detail. The promised date of delivery. Because of the work load and the arrival of the replacement engine, we missed his scheduled time of departure from the service bay by one whole day. This was all the fodder Mr. Gripey needed to begin his wrath of expletives and insults as to how awful we’ve made the entire experience. Was I surprised? No, not at all. Now he wanted an even bigger discount than what the promotion had offered. I offered my condolences and gave a bit more off the top of the cost of the job. That wasn’t good enough. He wanted it for free now. Of course, that’s not going to happen. Now, he has decided to refuse to pay for the job. Several days passed between unanswered phone calls and messages left for Mr. Gripey to return for his vehicle. The daily reconnoitering of the service bay when his truck was being serviced came to an end too. The mechanic and his apprentice mentor were relieved to move onto the next project. Me, I was still stuck with the task of collecting the balance on the job. Which, is usually a rather pleasant experience filled with smiles and thank yous followed by a check, credit card, or cash. But, not this time. A week has gone by and Mr. Gripey hasn’t made an entrance yet. Time for one more phone call, but this time with a little added incentive. Mr. Gripey is going to be informed about storage charges for keeping his little pickup behind locked doors and that the charges would keep adding up until he showed up. He was given a grace period until the end of the week, and if we didn’t hear from him by then… the storage charges would start from the day of this phone call. It’s no surprise, Mr. Gripey managed to show up at the shop that very afternoon. “I’m here to pay my bill and get my truck out of your $&^#*!!! shop,” he said, in a very disgruntled manner. I gave him the total and said, “That’ll be cash, sir.” I wasn’t about to give this guy a chance to walk out with the keys with anything less than a paid in full with good ol' “American currency” and a completed repair singed off. Mr. Gripey turned around and went out to his car and returned with three large bank bags. He tossed the bags onto the counter and said, “Here ya go. Count it if you feel like it.” The bags were full of good old American currency alright, all of it … … … entirely pennies. “I’ll take my truck now. If you don’t mind,” Mr. Gripey said. I looked at the pile of coins starting to pour slowly out of the split open bag and looked back up at Mr. Gripey, “Uhm, sir, this is legal tender alright, but this is no way to pay your bill. But, in your case I’ll accept the payment only after it has been fully counted,” I said to him, trying to stare down his angry gaze, “So, just have a seat and I’ll get this counted and when it has been counted I’ll gladly hand the keys over to you.” Mr. Gripey hadn’t planned his little caper out as well as he had thought. He thought I was just going to hand the keys over and I’d be stuck with several hours of counting pennies while he was long gone with a smirk on his face thinking he just pulled a fast one on a repair shop. The fact is, he wasn't getting the keys until I had every last penny was counted. With some help from the crew, we sat in the front office counting each and every penny one after another. And no, I wasn’t about to give the guy the satisfaction of taking the bags to the bank and have them counted. I wanted him to sit there waiting the hours it took to have it all hand counted. It was by far the best bonding time I had with the crew. As we counted we talked about jobs in the shop, what was coming up next, tools, where we wanted to be in the next few years, our families, kids, and pastimes. Indirectly, Mr. Gripey did us all a huge favor by allowing us all to have a few hours of time together away from the wrenches. We kept at it until we finished and never once did we remain quiet or stop for breaks. By the time the last penny was counted we were all tired of stacking pennies. We could finally get up from our chore and get Mr. Gripey out the door with his truck and warranty paper work. His warranty has expired a long time ago and if it was no surprise, he never did come back for even an oil change. I’ve been paid with all kinds of things over the years. From a stack of Susan B Anthony coins to a case of beer. But, this was the first time anyone paid for an entire job with sacks full of pennies. Just for the record, if there is a next time… I’m not counting all those pennies again. I’ll let the bank to do it and make the guy come back the next day. Just don’t tell Mr. Gripey that. He still may need another lesson or two on how to act civil at a repair shop. Even if it is one penny at a time.
  11. Hi Y'all...from the Volunteer State!

    Welcome! Great place to get an idea of how the business of fixing cars really works in the real world. Good luck with your body shop... all the best!
  12. Joke of the Day

    This guys wife is having an affair when her young son comes home early. The boy hides out in the closet to catch what was going on, when the husband arrives home early too. The would be affair is halted and the lover hides out in the same closet as the boy. The boy says, "Hey, it's dark in here." The lover answers, "Yep" The boy replies, "I got a baseball, I'll sell to you. That way I won't say a thing to my daddy." The lover says, "How much?" The young lad says to the lover, "250 bucks" The lover pays the kid and when the coast is clear he sneaks out of the house. A week later the same thing happens. The boy says, "Hey, it's dark in here. I've got a baseball mitt for sale now." The lover reluctantly asks, "How much this time?" The boy says, "750 bucks." Again the lover waits for the coast to clear and makes his escape. Another week goes by and good old dad asks the son if he'd like to go play catch. The son tells him he sold his ball and glove for a 1000 bucks. Dad, being a bit of a prude, tells the boy that he needs to go straight to confession because that was way to much to sell his old ball and mitt for. The boy heads to the confessional, he steps inside and says, "Hey, it's dark in here." the voice from the other side says, "NOW Don't start that crap AGAIN!"
  13. I think I can safely summarize a bit of first hand knowledge to all of this, since I'm seeing the industry from two different ends these days. Meaning, I'm still a shop owner but also a teacher these days, as well as a technical manual writer and a contributing editor, so I may have an insight on to what it is about these new techs or the lack of solid techs showing up looking for work. First off, it's the industries previous connotations. Let's face it, way back when mechanics were simply grease gods in jump suits, dirt floor barns and a greasy rag hanging out of their back pockets. We all know that's NOT the mechanic world of today, but for some reason that stigma follows us all. Secondly, the caliber of people coming into the trade at the technical schools is varied. Some are there because of a GI bill paid tuition, others are there because somebody felt sorry for them and is paying their school fees either to avoid jail time or to avoid the wrath of their parents for not finding a decent job or career to get started in. But, a few are there on their own dollar and are more than willing to grind it out and learn this trade. Third, the pay, the investment and the shop environment. You're not much of a technician if you don't have the right tools, even if you do have some background in the inner workings of the modern car. The initial investment can be minimized by not buying the latest and greatest, however, if the pay isn't up to par with the skill sets needed I'd find it hard for anyone to stay at the trade ... starting from the bottom and working up. A good tech is worth his weight, a newbee ...well... if you've got the time to wait for one to become an awesome tech, that's fantastic... now pay him what he is worth, before another shop strikes a deal with him. Obviously, the shop environment has to go along with the skill, the tools, the knowledge, the clients, and the rest of the shop helps attitude, not to mention the pay. In a nut shell, those are the three things I believe leads to the shortage of good techs. Some will have a difference of opinion, but that's what I see these days looking at it from different angles.
  14. An old story ... but a goody. Let's see who remembers this one. LOL
  15. Looking for Some Guy Have ya ever noticed that a lot of work shows up at the shop with some sort of story attached and the customer almost always knows who sent them to you or what the last tech has done to their car? It’s pretty common at my shop. This other mechanic seems to always be busy, sometimes too busy to finish the customer’s job completely. I don’t know who this dude is but, he gets all the work in town. I’ve never met this wrench jockey; I don’t even know where his shop is… in fact I don’t even know what he charges or what his expertise is. But, I do know his name… oh yea, I know his name, his reputation is well known, and his never ending automotive repair skills are known far and wide. Who is this genius of the auto repair world? You know him, he’s that “regular mechanic” you always hear about. I don’t know whether he is some super tech out there or just the best salesman in the business. What’s his name you ask, well; it’s none other than…“Sum Guy”. that’s the dude, that’s him… his name comes up in conversations all the time… something like this; “I had my car to Sum Guy the other day… he said my problem was this, and said you would know how to fix it.” Or when you ask, “Where did you have your car at ma’am?” and the usual answer ... “Oh, I had it at Sum Guy for a while till he gave up and said he couldn’t take care of it, I don’t think he knows what he’s doing.” And, of course my all time favorite… “Sum Guy already looked at it so I already know what’s wrong.” Now I don’t know about you but Sum Guy seems to get around a lot. One of these days I’d like to meet him. I’ve got a few words for him for sure. He either works the customer into an all out frenzy or they come into the shop with a chip on their shoulder as if they just cured cancer. Ya never know which way it’s going to go with Sum Guy around. He can be your friend or he can be your enemy it’s all a gamble at this point. Listening in on conversations at the front counter and sooner or later good ol’ Sum Guy will get his name mentioned. “I had Sum Guy change my brakes last week but he didn’t want to mess with the ABS system.” “The other day my wife and I were out in town when we ran across Sum Guy, he said he knew you.” Man, this dude gets around, how do ya keep up with him? He’s everywhere! I’m going to put an ad in the paper one of these days… it should say something like; “Looking for Sum Guy who can fix cars and impress customers more than I can. Sum Guy who has all the correct tools and diagnostic equipment that I don’t have. Sum Guy with the smarts of a rocket scientist and the strength of a gorilla. Sum Guy who can be in two places at once and never-ever makes a mistake. Sum Guy that can keep a customer happy even in the worst of conditions and knows just what to say to calm them down. And, most of all Sum Guy who can do all of this and still show up to work on time. I doubt he’ll answer the ad, I think he doesn’t want the rest of the automotive industry to know about him. I think he likes to stay in the shadows away from the lime light and keep in close touch with all his customers. He’s a credit to himself… that guy… he’s Some Guy…


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