What Does It Mean To Be An Auto Mechanic

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I had found this little story a while back. I would like you all to read it, and then we can talk about.

I’m a journeyman technician
In an Automotive shop
I’m supposed to know the answers
From the bottom to the top

I should diagnose the problem
With just a single look,
And if I fail to fix it,
You think I’m a crook

When I charge you for my labor
You bitch and scream and moan,
And even call and threaten me
Upon the telephone

But technology in the auto
is advancing every year,
And for the systems I must know
I simply have no peer

I must be more electrician
Than the man who wires your home,
For the wiring system in your car
Outstrips the Astrodome

Then refrigeration systems
That I’m supposed to know
Have more gadgets than your home
To make the damn thing go

Electronics now have made the scene
And more are coming yet
Some models now will far exceed
Your television set

In hydraulics I have more to learn
Than a specialist in pumps
There’s brakes and shock absorbers
to help absorb the bumps

Torque converters and transmissions
With servos, valves and gears,
with models by the hundreds
Introduced in recent years

Fuel systems of a hundred kinds
I must adjust and meter
Each far more complicated
Than your furnace or water heater

The principles of combustion
I must know from A to Z
And gear trains that will far exceed
Most all machinery

I’m in welding, I’m in plumbing
For water, vacuum, oil and fuel
Compared to me, a plumber
Is a kid in grammar school

There’s alignment and there’s balancing
And God alone knows what
If I fix it, thats expected
If I don’t, I’m on the spot

There’s models, makes and systems
Some seven hundred strong
And new ones coming up each year
To help the scheme along

Now compare me to the Doctor
Whose prices make mine meager,
Yet folks revere his expertise
Ever more impressed and eager

The human body hasn’t changed
In twenty thousand years,
And every model works the same
from the ankles to the ears

There’s years of school to learn his field
And almost none in mine
I’ve learned by practicing my trade
And I read what I can find

There’s new equipment and techniques
And medicines for sure
But this is true in my field, too
As much, or even more

There’s lots of books he has to read
His procedures to define,
But for every page in his field
There’s twenty-five in mine

There’s no comebacks and no warranty
You pay for what you get,
And then come back and pay again
If he hasn’t fixed it yet

His mistakes are often buried
While mine come back for free
And he plays golf on Wednesday
While my customers hassle me

We spend millions of tax dollars
Sending kids to medical school,
But if you ask for some in my field
You’re treated like a fool

Everybody has just one body,
But not one has more
But when it comes to autos
You may have three or four

But you’ll go right on complaining
Of the way I run my show
With no appreciation
For the things I have to know

And you’ll take your high school dropout
And you’ll shove them off to us
And expect them to be experts
While you rant and rave and fuss

And when your car cannot be serviced
I’ll not hang my head in shame
So you’d best wake up America
And find out who’s to blame

Author Unknown

I forget where I found this, but I find it very interesting. Some of the lines are spot on. We ARE expected to know everything. Something that is just not possible. Even in a dealership setting, we can’t know every feature of every car. We ARE expected to be 100% right, 100% of the time. While some of us are right a lot we get it wrong too.

The comparison to doctors is one that people in the industry make all the time.While I think the story does paint a good picture, lets face it, doctors are REALLY REALLY important. My job is not with out risk to my customers. If a brake job goes bad, someone can get hurt.

I also think that it points out some of the things we do that most customers don’t know. Like how many systems a car really has, and how they all must work happy together. The tool and equipment required to fix car.

Let’s open the floor for some good conversation about this story. Are mechanics (blue collar workers) really as bad as they are made out to be? Do they think they are more important than they really are?

If you have never shared any of the post, please consider this one. It will make for great discussion.

10 replies
  1. Alex@iHeartEuro
    Alex@iHeartEuro says:

    Great post, Charles. I have about 5-6 months left of my mechanics courses and as I am approaching the “job” I am starting to doubt this is for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love cars and love working on them however I believe it takes a special person to do this as an employee.

    I find the profession a lot more dangerous than many others (how many mechanics lost their eyes, fingers, etc even when being very careful?) then comes the stress factor. The client wants his car to be fixed for cheap, your boss wants it to be fixed fast and both expect 110% quality…

    Anyways, I would love to work in the automotive field just not sure if as a technician.

  2. Jeremy
    Jeremy says:

    Tech school is extremely hard. I may still only be a couple modules in but it’s enough to know that it is not going to be an easy feat. I tell people I’m in an “Automotive technician” course. “You’re going to be a mechanic?” I hate that answer. Makes it look like we are scum. The slackers in my class don’t get by. Three have already dropped out and the only real system we covered is electricity.. which can get to be really complicated.

    Mechanics are under appreciated. My teacher told us the other day “What you guys know from this course is worth a lot. Even if you guys only just did Electricity” It’s true. I think techs aren’t paid enough for what we do. Doctors, engineers, lawyers bring their car to mechanics to get fixed just as we go to doctors when we get sick.

    Doctors may go to school for 6-8 years but technicians never stop going to courses. People need to learn more about what a life is like for a technician. It annoys me when people think that because I’m in tech school I’m a bum.

    Anyway, thats my rant. I probably would have wrote more but I have to get ready to go to school.. 8am-3pm five days a week while all my University friends are off until September…

  3. Charles
    Charles says:

    Great responses guys! I would have replied earlier, but I was at work. HA!
    You are right on about the danger. We have 2 guys out right now because they are hurt. The bad part is, most guys do not take care of themselves. I don’t think anyone really appreciates the toll this job can take on your body. Yet, someone that sits behind a desk gets complete sympathy. 😉
    There are tons of jobs in the industry. Tech, service advisor, aftermarket you name it is out there. There are even things like consulting you can do.
    The stress on your body and mind can be challenging. The balance between making money and doing a great job is a delicate balance. You have to remember everything, and forget it just the same. What I mean is, you need to remember things that help you repair cars. Never forget that ground under the battery will make cars do CRAZY stuff. But you need to forget that car that whooped your butt, and move on to the next one. This just is complete contradiction.

    I wish that I could properly describe most of the people I went to tech school with. Lazy is most likely the easiest way. Sad to see people spend so much money and not make it worth every penny. I guess stupid is a better way to say it.
    Either way, don’t get discouraged. This is a great job, with a ton of perks. AND, you can always buy tools for “work” 😉

    • Jeff Corum
      Jeff Corum says:

      I’m now thinking of leaving this field, the money spent on tools is growing as is my demand to be ever so “100%” . never had a “come back” but it ruined my passion for cars when all I do is fix cheap UN appreciative snobby customers vehicles.just a thought

  4. Alex@iHeartEuro
    Alex@iHeartEuro says:

    One thing I do know for sure I’ll be working in the EURO car industry, most likely in the Volkswagen Group… good thing VW own quite a few great brands 😉 I am kind of considering moving to Eastern Europe and opening up a VW/Audi/Porsche specialized speed shop. There is a HUGE growing demand for it but no suppliers. People want to install that twin turbo on their R32 and supercharge their Cayennes – but no one is willing to do it and there are no quality parts…


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