Here we go.
I do want to apologize for the half baked exit. I let a few assholes get to me. I assumed only the vocal opponents spoke for everyone, I was not aware of a silent majority. But I think in the end it was healthy to step back for a few months. I was relying too much on Oppo and the ease at which it was to bitch at mostly strangers on the internet. I was posting so much I was starting to feel I had to share work stories with you all, but that shouldn’t be the case.
But, it’s a new week, sorry, year, so I should share with those of you that care, and apparently there are many of you that do, I finally got a new job. You are all intimately aware of the shit show I was in, and how much I hated it. The old adage, “It’s easier to find a job when you have a job” does not apply when you apparently loathe your job. Actually, scratch that, it’s easier to find a job when you have a job and are willing to make a lateral transfer into a similar shit show.
Here’s a quick(ish) summary of my job search:
I accepted a job at a local Honda dealer against my better judgment (I used to work there) at a crap wage, but it was closer to home. Service manager made me the offer, then I asked him a few days later on an update and he ignored me. I stopped by several times, and I finally got a form letter from the company recruiter saying they changed their mind on the position. Ha. Okay. You guys did me a favor as I regretted accepting the offer as soon as it left my mouth.
Back to searching: Mostly dealer jobs, offers at chain stores like Firestone, Goodyear; all shit places.
Then comes a posting at an Audi dealer 25 miles from home (current commute was 12 miles). At the time I got called into the BAR for an interview, and I really wanted the job. I go to the BAR interview and it was for a lab technician job, something I didn’t really want, but it was a state job with great pay, great benefits (all I really wanted), and the commute wasn’t terrible. But the interview was all technical questions about vehicle systems I hadn’t touched in three years, so I was rusty and nervous. I didn’t think the interview went well. I was right (three months later). So on my way home, I go to the Audi interview. And when I say interview I mean I popped in to follow up on the application I sent in a day or two before. The service manager gives me a few minutes and seems to like me and asks me to come back and talk to his foreman, who is off for the day. So I come back a few days later and talk to him. He really likes me, and really wants to hire me. The only problem is their pay structure. It’s shit. They start new technicians off at the state minimum wage ($22 for technicians who provide their own tools). I was making more than that at the time. And while they did not give me a number of what I might start after 90 days, I don’t think it was over what I was making, and I am worth more than that.
But anyways, the foreman said it was between me and another technician, but he had Audi dealer experience. But the foreman really wanted to hire me. So I waited a few days, and then I went back up to talk to him and the foreman said he could only offer me $22 to start. I said if he can get me $23 I would start. This was against my better judgment. A few days go by and I get TEXT from the foreman that they’ve decided not to hire right now and will call me in a few months.
They went with the other tech because he was okay with $22 an hour. But I was mainly pissed about the big game the foreman was talking. He said he wants good, quality technicians. I was standing right in front of him, willing to take a pay cut, but the dealer, part of a local large network, is not willing to pay for qualified technicians.
And the inevitable happened: the foreman texted me a few months later asking if I was still interested in working for them. I told him no, I didn’t want to work somewhere that didn’t value my skills.
After that, I didn’t really look much. I was pretty discouraged. And at that point, I talked to an attorney friend of mine and asked to come work for him. I’d be taking a big pay cut, but I was so done with automotive. The experience with Audi was the same everywhere else. All these shop owners, service managers, and foreman all said the same thing: “We want good, quality technicians who will stay.” But… NONE OF THEM WILL PAY FOR IT!!! They all bitch and moan about losing techs, finding shit ones, etc. But it’s all their own making. Good technicians usually stay put in shops that pay them well. Guys only look for new jobs for a few reasons: they’re not making enough, they work for a shit shop, or they suck and can’t keep a job. Or a combination of reasons. So I had had it and wanted out. And I was all set to leave. I started some training sessions with my attorney friend at night, but then I realized it might not be a good idea. I have zero experience in an office environment, and one year of law school did not prepare me to do paralegal work quickly. And at the same time, a new opportunity presented itself. And it’s where I am now.
I decided not to risk losing half my paycheck for now and decided to take a job working for two attorneys who bought a local smog shop two miles from my house. And I was actually put in touch with them by attorney friend I was going to work for. I had contacted them back in October, but I didn’t hear from them for a while. I assumed they were just as busy as most small time attorneys are. But November came around and negotiations got serious, it was just a matter of wage. When I first talked to them I gave them a bare minimum base salary I could do, because at the time they said they weren’t looking for someone full time. But then November rolls around and they want me to take over the shop and work Monday through Saturday, but for the same gross I gave them. I was afraid that by saying no, I would throw away the offer. But I didn’t! They really wanted to hire me and were more than willing to pay me what I wanted. It was still a pay cut for my hourly wage, but I make more per month due to more hours and such. And there is a bonus structure in place as an incentive to do more smogs.
So that’s where I’m at now. I’m running a smog shop working more than I want, but I work for human beings who care about my well being and want to pay me a fair wage. They brought me in to expand the shop. They want to start doing smog repairs, brake and lamp inspections (a California thing for salvaged cars and people who get citations), and just get the numbers back up. The attorney’s bought this shop to bail out the previous owner. And I used to work for the previous owner. I was here at this shop when I first got my license, but the owner changed his mind and said he needed someone with more experience. It was a dick move. But me being a glutton for punishment, I was going to come work for him again three years ago. This was when he was trying to sell the shop as he was moving out of state. I heard he was looking for a new tech, I talked to him, he said yes, we agreed for me to start in two weeks. Then, on my last day at my then current job, he walks in and talks to my boss. Then he comes into the shop and says he changed his mind. I was completely blindsided. And I was fucking pissed. Thankfully I still had a job, but I never got over that. There was absolutely no reason for it, and it was the second god damn time he had screwed me over.
But, karma is a bitch. He went through several technicians after that, and they were all absolute idiots who either didn’t know how to smog, run a shop, or just be nice to customers. Or a combination. Then he entered into a deal to sell the shop. I guess the guy would work for him for a year and make payments. Well, he used to work at a smog shop around the corner, and the owner of that shop hated this shop owner. So there may have been some shenanigans involved, but the tech who came to work here and was supposed to buy the shop basically ran the shop into the ground, possibly with the intention of devaluing the shop, and he ended up getting a citation from the BAR. So the tech and the shop were cited*, and the owner no longer had a buyer. So the current owners stepped in and bailed him out. They hired some stoner kid who ran the shop for about a year, and he also completely fucked this place up. Apparently, he would find “reasons” to turn cars away. Aka he would find things to fail the car for but wouldn’t test and sent the customer away. The owners and I have no idea why he did that. But he also had shit customer service and may customers who thankfully came back in have complained about it.
So my goal is to somehow turn this shop around. My first step is to just test the damn cars. Second step is to make the waiting area very nice. Music and or Netflix going. Good wifi, charging access for people’s phone. Good refreshments. And finally: good customer service.
But one of my first acts and new overlord was to KEEP PEOPLE FROM DRIVING IN!!!! Thankfully I have an office front here, but people are still stupid, so I installed safety chains and caution signs. But, people are gonna stupid, and people have said they assumed I was closed because the doors were open but I had chains up? Huh? Wow. And the Really Important People™ just block both my bays.
In other news:
I still have the e-Golfs, obviously, and I have “improved” them. I replaced the trash Bridgestone tires they came with and put on the VW spec Michelins the cars used to come with a few years ago. Huge improvement.
I put carbon mirror caps on the white e-Golf, and chrome aluminum on the gray one. I love the contrasting look.
I just installed the VW Helix subwoofer sound system in the white e-Golf. And in a stroke of genius, I ordered another wiring harness from the manufacturer to put in the TDI and put the sub in that car when I take that on trips. I LOVE the Lego nature of VWs.
I spent a bunch of money and even more time on some fantastic New Age cabinets for the garage to clean it up.
I spent a butt ton of money on some custom Coverking moving blanket car covers for the garage queens. But thanks to a furry monster who shall remain nameless, I spent another $100 on more moving blankets to put ON TOP OF the moving blanket car covers so his highness and his claws don’t damage the car covers themselves.
I got a DI tank so I can do lazy car washes and don’t have to worry about drying the cars. I also got a new pressure washer that is more compact, powerful, and much quieter. I also got a reel for the pressure washer hose and I hate rolling things up. The goal was to make car washing as quick and easy as possible.
I just did a dumb thing and got a new toolbox and tools I don’t need for the shop all because I want to leave my tools at home.
OH! I finally put real brakes on the TDI. The plan was to take the TDI to Streets of Willow in October (HA!) so I ordered good brakes for it. I never got around to until right before Christmas, and even then I was rushing to have it ready to go to San Diego on Christmas. I decided to go with Hawk pads: Hawk HP Plus in the front (pretty close to full track pads). I could only get street pads for the rear: Street 5.0 Pads. But they are pretty great. The HP Plus aren’t very noisy at all, but they do put out a lot of dust. But as they’re track pads that’s to be expected, and I don’t care. Really. Okay, I do. But I also like to stop and not die.
I went out to the crap LA Radwood with ImmoralMinority, WrongWheelDrive, Spambot, and Capt Dale. It was awesome to meet Capt Dale and Spambot, but the show really was crap as ImmoralMinority had already reported.
I also finally got around to making my Mercedes illegal. I installed some el-cheapo eBay headers and then put the stock exhaust, with catalytic converters up in the rafters at my friends shop. I then spent lots o money on an exhaust and I think it sounds like shit. WrongWheelDrive says it sounds fine, and all he can hear is the supercharger whine. So the supercharger pulley upgrade also seems to work. It blew off the boost pipe as I was leaving the muffler shop and WrongWheelDrive supplied me with tools to fix it. So now that the car has a non-CARB approved header and no catalytic converters I will not be operating it on the road. I have to practice what I preach at work.
I am sure I am missing some updates. But for now, I will slowly get back into Oppo. I want to work on some new informative posts and work them into my shop’s website. Hopefully, I will start doing registration things at the shop so I will expand my knowledge base. But, for now, I will stick to smog and auto repair things and spread the word.
And hopefully, you guys can forgive me for being an asshole and help me with ideas on with making the shop better, busier, and a place you would want to come, or one you would recommend.
I leave you with a picture of our true overlord.