Saturday, September 22, 2012

Open For Business

The oil pick up tube moments before Oggy blocks it off with gasket material.
 The sound of aluminum doors opening in the Texas morning is one of those sounds that will stay with me like the horrible sound of someone banging on my door reminds me of emergencies in the Merchant Marines when I was needed on deck during my 6 hours of sleep time. I'd wake up half asleep and stumble into total chaos of a deck piled with gear and pipes and rain and huge waves washing sharks onto our feet and I'd reach for my gloves and hit my head against something heavy and steel and I'd be awake and angry while literally 45 seconds earlier I'd been asleep and at peace. The aluminum doors make an unpleasant sound.

My first week as a full time mechanic is over and my feeling is that when starting out on some strange car I can not rely on my instincts to know where each bolt belongs. I tried to bag bolts for this Firebird but inevitably I lost count and misplaced several. Are they in the oil pan or crankcase? We'll find out.
Procedure is everything. Pretend I'm a dentist. Have you ever gone to the dentist's office and there was shit everywhere, paper on the floor, old x-rays dangling over lightbulbs. They look at you like you have two heads.
"What are you here for?"
"A cleaning."
"Ok. If you say so."
Piston with broken connecting rod
I thought I was an idiot for not cutting a hole in the pick up tube gasket. But today I'm supposed to change a fuel pump on a Plymouth Breeze. Well, where is the key so I can unlock the steering wheel?
"Over there on a wall. If not then look in the coffee cup. Or the key drop. Or wait (looks in pocket) is this it?"
What the fuck? Are we in third grade? Did you not put a tag on the key so we know what car it belongs to? No, of course not. That would be crazy.
Mechanic looking pissed because he can't find a key.
So I spend at least an hour trying to find a key, trying anything that will fit, but nothing turns the lock cylinder. None of the keys have tags. The keys are scattered everywhere on three walls and on one Denny's aluminum line cook bench under springs where the orders were once placed. I finally give up and then the head gaskets for the Firebird arrived. Question: what kind of operation doesn't make the smallest attempt to organize the keys of the cars they get? Answer: The kind of operation that hires someone who doesn't cut holes in gaskets.

It's exhausting and I finally cleaned out a work bench so I would only have the tools I was using...after a week of complete chaos.
Glamour Shot
The moral of this story is that you can work in chaos and still accomplish something but it takes much longer. I would understand this if none of us were mechanics but the owner teaches mechanics so there is no excuse. Procedure is everything and workspace is everything. Fortunately I'm the only one to blame for the chaos since everyone wants order but no one wants to take the time to organize. So It's up to me to organize at least my own work space and when I take a bolt out of an engine I've never worked on then I need to bag it and photograph it like a CSI investigator. The guy I was working with insists he remembers where every bolt goes that he took out and literally the first three bolts he reinstalled connecting the bell housing to the motor turned out to be the lower head bolts. I found this out when I put the heads on today and was missing 4 bolts. Yes, they fit the bell housing but they don't belong there. So he basically has the confidence that he will find a bolt that will fit eventually and that's sort of true but is that any way to proceed? I think not. Furthermore, neither he nor I are committed to the job at all so at any minute I could be gone, especially since payday came and went without one peso going into the Mexican Drug Relief Fund. What would happen to the bolts I took out and threw in a pile if I vanished in the night? There's no chance you'll figure out which goes where especially when the threads will fit but the length will be wrong. So you'll have to try every bolt or else you have rebuilt a thousand motors and you know what each one will look like, in which case you already have a job and won't work at this crappy garage.
Firebirds were designed to be driven, not worked on, which sucks because they need work every few months.
The lesson is to start doing it the right way as soon as possible. There is never a reason to delay getting organized. God, now I'm starting to sound like See how un-entertaining this crap is? YOU SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I BECOME A FUCKING WORK SLAVE WITH WAGE DREAMS AND LACK OF DIGNITY AND MORALITY AND GEOMETRY? It's bullshit. It happens so effortlessly that I suddenly become conventional and concerned only with the specialized task I'm working on. IT'S TOTALLY AGAINST THE ETHIC DESCRIBED IN THE GLASS BEAD GAME. Universality is the intellectual path and if I allow myself to become a specialized assembly line manufacturer or repair monkey with grease in his crocheted hat then I lose my universal worldview. It's a damn razor's edge between the depraved specialized monotony of the placid brainless drones who produce plastic dildos and the effete intellectual who lectures in pompous audacity with nothing in his bank of experiences to justify his words. I don't want lessons or morals or any phony bullshit but merely the core experience to assimilate into my worldview. This should not be difficult but the race car society breaks my shine box at every opportunity.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.