Thursday, September 27, 2012

Minor Victories

The Firebird is growing on me as it is an introduction to modern vehicles (1999) It has 280,000 miles on it which makes me wonder why the owner wants to keep it alive. It ran badly and part of the problem was an EGR metal hose that I had never seen before so I didn't know that I had probably broken it when I forced it out of the fitting. It's a $50 part that I was luckily able to buy for $5 at the scrap yard down the street. The scrap vehicle had been in a head on collision with certain fatalities with the engine pushed over the EGR hose so I spent an hour getting it out. I reimbursed myself by stealing some special harness connectors that I broke, an oil pressure switch, and some fuses for the van. I also asked about a job. That sorted some of the vacuum problems out but the misfire continues so we ordered a coil pack and will see if that solves the main problem. It's now running alright. Everyone basically was saying it was bad gas and the parts needed to "mesh together" which is total lazy mechanic gibberish.
Again, we enter the realm why Oggy can not be a mechanic because he doesn't speak Mechanic, he actually sees the malfunction in a philosophical and ethical framework aside from a clockwork mechanic realm. It must be fixed and the idea it was bad gas made no sense. But the only way to make money is to give the customer his keys back and tell him that the problem will go away after a few hundred miles since it is a total engine swap...etc. etc.. And if you spend 8 extra hours on the job actually fixing something then you can not charge any more for those hours, which would be $600 extra dollars for the shop. And this car is owned by a lawyer and the correlation started to make less and less sense. True, when a lawyer is involved then lots of money or time in jail is involved and when a car is involved then only a form of transportation is at stake. But why is a Lawyer allowed to charge $200 an hour for ANY WORK HE DOES RELATED TO THE CASE? It does not matter what surprise comes up, he will need to be paid extra. If a mechanic strips a bolt that will add 5 hours to the job then usually he must ignore the stripped bolt because he can't spend that time to fix it...because the customer will bitch that it was somehow the mechanic's fault...and sometimes it will be the mechanic's fault...but no mechanic will strip a bolt on purpose so it's basically the cost of having a car and having that car break down and relying on a mechanic to do the repair. The paradigm is crooked. This Firebird has 280,000 miles, a cracked windshield, cracked sideview mirror, has two inches of clearance, is rusty, dirty oil everywhere, so exactly how am I going to guarantee any job like swapping engines around will go smoothly and according to some price guideline of $1500? I can't. This isn't changing a tire or oil on a brand new car.

My policy, which would lead to my instantly going out of business, would be to treat mechanics like dentistry (clean, tight ship in the garage...order...military precision...) and also to charge for every minute that I spend on the project. 100% of the time you will find a cheaper price than what I charge but once I am confident in a job then I'll do a better a job 100% of the time. So, it's really a question of you get what you pay for. Why does on lawyer charge less? Less experience or less interest in their client or fewer clients? A mechanic is no different except for the big difference that their efforts can't be cancelled out by an opposing lawyer and you go to jail for 10 years. A mechanic might fuck up and give you back a car that's worse than when you dropped it off, but they will only do that because they will lose money if they tried to fix it. They will be doing work that is unpaid and while that would be fine in a Communist scenario it irks me that a Lawyer can bill by the hour while a Mechanic basically does piece work. True, some lawyers will charge a flat rate for certain issues that are streamlined like DWI and divorce and bankruptcy, but generally you pay by the hour. Of course I didn't complain when I got paid for an hour of work changing an alternator that took about 9 minutes. But it doesn't balance out and thus adds to the inequity I see with the flawed modern economy that will ultimately lead to the demise of capitalism because it's inherently unbalanced toward lawyers. The exchange of time and skill is inordinately unequal and designed to
The conclusion is that skilled labor ought not to be piece work. I can give a rough estimate on some jobs but I have no experience with certain jobs so I can't price anything at this point.

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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.