Saturday, 14 April 2012

BACKSEAT DRIVER

JC worked at a car/farm machinery dealership about twenty miles north of the border for several years. Started out as a mechanic and finished as a--mechanic/service manager, the job was demanding but somehow fulfilling as well. He often said that if the place hadn't run into hard times in the early 80s he'd probably still be there, frustrations and all.

As often happens with small dealerships there is a lot of interaction between all departments and management. That is to say that there is a lot of personal contact/dialogue going on. Often times upper management would try to overide the lower position if he thought he needed some favors done for a friend. Trouble is, with people like JC, those favor requests would be ignored in order to satisfy promises already made to customers whose units were likely already in the shop. Oftentimes that would lead to some heated confrontations.

Now let me back up a bit. JC wasn't an obstinate individual. Stubborn, ornery, pig-headed, definitely, but not obstinate.

Alright just a little obstinate. Let's just say for the record that he was a man of his word. If he promised that he'd take on a project, he'd take it on. Anyone else that showed up later would be looked after... Later. And if that customer tried to convince JC that he should be first in line, JC would just point to the vehicles and machinery in the shop and ask the customer who should be bumped because he wasn't as important, and if so would the new self-righteous customer like to phone the party to be bumped and explain why.

No one got bumped...

Let's also mention some things about the boss. GA wasn't a bad person most of the time; in fact he was a good person--most of the time and somewhat of a horse's backside the rest of the time. Short-tempered would be a gross understatement as he could take the paint off the walls when he got mad. In fact there was a time he was walking through the shop shortly after a dead-head vehicle was towed in and the chain was in a pile on the floor. He tripped over it then turned around and savagely kicked it, breaking one of his toes in the process. But aside from that, he had two real bad faults:

First, he tended to make promises to friends then forget to mention that to the service department. When that friend showed up and found that said promise hadn't been kept, he'd first try to tear a strip off JC who promptly (sometimes politely) steered the irate customer to the source of the promise and let them battle it out.

Second, he brought his personal (read: spousal) problems to work with him. And maybe I should go a little easier on ol' GA and blame some of his behavior on his better half.

She could be a cold-hearted, self-centered, judgemental, unreasonable, vindictive, bad-tempered, back-stabbing bee-otch. And that was on her good days. For four days a month--yes, when she was flying the red flag--she was unbearable; to the point where all personnel back at the shop marked those formidable days in red every month.

You did not talk to the boss on those days; avoid him at all costs...

Well, this story involves a little bit of all of that.

It was just after closing time on a Thursday night. Everyone had gone home except for JC. He was actually in the act of locking up when a carrier showed up from Melchin's to drop off some new vehicles. The job of checking the vehicles over didn't involve much at all so JC simply checked them off, labeled the keys and dropped them into the vehicle sales manager's office. Just as he was leaving, the boss pulled in with his big old Caddy and got out.

"I saw that load coming in and I need my friend's two 3/4 ton trucks serviced and ready to deliver tomorrow!" he thundered.

JC knew which vehicles those were: two plain jane 3/4 ton pickups painted calf scour yellow (the manufacturer's Desert Tan) ordered in for the friend's construction company. "Can't do that," JC responded. "Got two guys missing tomorrow and we've got four units already promised."

"But I can some in Saturday and get them ready," JC offered as a possible way out.

GA started getting insistant but JC stuck to his guns; the shop couldn't work them in. The argument finally ended with GA mentioning something about who signed JC's paychecks and JC saying something about someone else who signed his paychecks before he took the job with GA.

It wasn't pretty.

GA strode back to his car, kind of backwards with his head cocked around as he continued to threaten JC about the consequences of disobeying a direct order. He reached out blindly with his right hand and grabbed the door handle, jerked the door open and jumped inside, slammming the door extra hard behind him. Then he turned around, reached for the keys and the steering wheel tilt control...
...only to find that someone had moved the steering wheel and controls one seat ahead; he had inadvertantly gotten himself into the back seat. Needless to say, he quickly got out and bounced poste-haste into the front seat and left the place.

The two new vehicles weren't delivered on Friday but as was promised, JC came in on his own and prepared them on Saturday. The friend didn't even find out that they'd arrived until Monday afternoon...

3 comments:

  1. Totally ruined his big exit!!! Good for JC that he stuck to his guns . . . so to speak.

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  2. Workers like JC are few and far between. These days there are far too many yes men.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, JC was (and still is) somewhat stubborn but mostly for the right reasons. It was always much better to call the situation for what it was than to make promises you couldn't keep. So many business owners (and especially sales personnel) could be such Yes-men. All for the sake of a sale.

      Thanks for stopping by.

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