Adventures in Rocket Science
By Eddie Buck
I’m glad people who perform surgery on us, work on our teeth, and do our taxes all require some sort of education and certification. Even trash truck drivers require licenses which gives some sort of assurance they are bright enough to perform adequately. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee when a person is given a drivers license, they have one damn lick of sense. This past Monday, I took Spencer to school, then headed to the shop. It had been a cold and rainy weekend, and this morning started out the same, no rain, but dreary and cold. I pull into the parking lot, to see a Trailblazer and two people, all in about 8 inches of mud… in my lot next to the shop. At first, I thought,” Damn it! Rick’s guys know better than to pull up in there!”. I get out and walk to the edge of the gravel and realize it’s a guy and girl. “Looks like you got a problem…” was all I could muster. She says to me, ” I’m sorry. I was getting out of the trash truck’s way and got stuck.”
“Seems that it is a pretty good assumption”, I say.
” I can call a tow truck.” She offers.
” No. Let me go get a tow strap. I will pull you out. Don’t go anywhere.” I realized saying that, but who knows what she would try next. She pulled in there purposely.
I come back out, look over their way and notice the rear wheels are slowly turning. They are standing in the mud looking at me. I was going to tell them to put it in park… but why. I tossed the strap in the back, hop into the New Blue Beast, drive up the street and down the alley to where I can extract the mud queen. I position the truck, get the strap and realize she is gone, but her boyfriend was standing in the gravel on the side of the alley. I hand him the strap, tell him to hook it to the hitch. He walks towards Big Blue. “No, man. You walk out in the mud and hook it to HER hitch.” He stood there about 5 seconds looking at me, when I finally had to use my favorite adjective to describe the mud… (which rhymed with trucking…) to get the point across. I said, in my best fatherly tone, ” It’s like this pal, this is where you have to pay. For whatever it is, she lets you do to her, in the privacy of wherever it is you do it.” He looked like he was going to cry. I tied the strap to the tow hook, looked over, and asked him where he hooked the other end. He points somewhere underneath the bumper, with that blank look. I didn’t want the strap coming loose from this piece of shite and banging up my less than 600-mile old truck. ” Take the damn thing and hook it to the hole in that plate under the hitch!” I tried to maintain a straight face, as he looped it over the open end of the receiver. ” Not there! See the plate with two holes under that? Put it in one of those!” I’m trying not to be my usual crabby morning person. ” Goddammit! Move your hand! It’s under your hand!”
” OH YEAH! Okay, it’s in!” , he proclaims.
I tell him, ” Now go up and straighten out the steering wheel and put it in neutral.” The back wheels, they are still turning, mind you. I walked back and climbed in the truck, looked down to shift into reverse, look up, and … I roll down the window, ” You have to get in and steer!” As he stands there next to the car, with the door open. He gets in and I am hoping like hell, he remembers to just hold the wheel straight like I told him. I ease the truck back and it pretty much just drags it like a knife across butter.
I get out and he’s standing there, in his stocking feet. I asked if he put it in park…” oops” he says and goes to put it in park. I unhook the strap and he’s standing there again.
” It ain’t gonna take itself out, Man,” I inform him.
” Ah, okay, yeah, alright.” He unhooks it.
“You might want to get in and drive it around the block a couple of times. Get the mud off those half flat tires and go get some air in them for her.” His father must have talked to him like that too… because he was compliant and said, ” Yes sir.” When he took off down the alley, I rolled up the strap and saw two shoes, caked in mud, each about the size of a fried chicken. That explained the stocking feet.
Later that morning, a customer and I were examining the ruts. I regaled him with the story of the morning’s escapades, the owner of the place across the alley came out. He looked over and said,” Ed, don’t worry I will fix that!” I told him,” Don’t worry about it… you didn’t do it.” He said this wasn’t even his first headache of the day. He tells me,” I got woke up at 5:30 this morning. The gals opening up call, tell me the toilet in the ladies room overflows, EVERY TIME they flush it! I asked her, Everytime? How damn many times do you have to do that before you stop flushing it?!” I laughed and told him he wins. Then he says,” I came in to fix that and see mud tracked all over the floor.” He says,” I look around and say to myself, Eddie’s damn mud must have washed out in the street. I go outside and see no mud in the street… but see the tire tracks in your lot.” We had a good laugh over that. Once I figured out it was a girl that worked for him, I told him,” Tell that little gal a dozen Vegan cupcakes will go a long way, to easing my likelihood of having a stroke when I see that mess.”
I had a dozen cupcakes on my desk when I came back later that day.
Sometimes, the acknowledgment of a mistake, misdeed, or blunder can go a long way to making a bad situation…less bad. There’s no teaching common sense, just something you possess. Sort of like when you aren’t equipped to do a job. Don’t half-ass it by trying to make do with what you have. Use the right tools, to ensure a satisfactory job. I have no problem with paying for a skilled pro to do a job. I expect it to be that though… satisfactory. The older I get and the more responsibilities this business heaps on me, I find less time for what I really want to do. Begrudgingly, I hire people to do some of it for me. Usually, in either case, I have had success with those I have hired. Most are recommended by trusted friends or fellow customers of said workers/vendors. Once you find someone you can trust, it’s almost a treat to watch them work. You hang on to those sunuvabucks like you would a favorite coat.
I had been thinking about a new truck for a while. The one I had was only 3 1/2 years old, I had put 110,000 miles on it and had spent a couple grand replacing things that were just out of warranty. After a month or so, I sent the salesman I bought my last 3 vehicles from, an email telling him I was thinking about a new truck. He called me a few hours later, asked if I still wanted a diesel, four-wheel drive etc. I confirmed I did. a few days late he shows up at my place, with a brand new truck. It was nice, nicer than the old one was when it was new back in 2017. He knew the numbers I wanted to stay within. I looked the truck over, while he was checking mine out. As we walked in the shop, he asked me, ” How many vehicles do you have? Are all these yours, or customers?” I said all but one was mine, out on the lot. I told him there were more in the shop. ” How many?”, he asked.
” Thirteen.” I said, then asked why.
” I’m going to save you a few thousand more. Fleet discount ” he tells me. Hell yes!
He had worked at another dealership when I bought the last three. he had since started work at a new place… I never saw the place or walked through the doors. He took care of the whole deal, all I had to do was be at the shop, when he delivered the new truck… and of course, hand him the check. That my friends is a pro. Someone, who when they tell you upfront, what it is going to take to get it done, they deliver. No surprises. No inferior products. No BS. You get what they promise and everyone is happy. Although 2020 was a weird year, it was decent, with the exception of a disappointment or two. Even those had their bright sides. Both cases, true colors were shown and lessons were learned.
Here’s to a new year full of hope and health. Don’t take no wooden nickels and keep the greasy side down, Young Americans!
Till next time!