Golfing with an Attitude

    Ok, I confess… I’m a golfer… I play almost every weekend with
the same bunch of guys.  Why I go out each and every weekend and
put myself thru the heat, rain, blustery windy days and cold weather
to hit some little white ball through 7000 yards of manicured landscape
is beyond me.  But, there’s no doubt I’ll work on improving my handicap,
until I can’t pick up a club anymore. 

    Once in awhile we’ll be a guy short for some reason or another,
not a problem, we’ll find another weekend whacker standing around
the club house looking for a game.  After the first hole or so, you’ll
get an idea of what kind of golfer you’ve been teamed up with. 
More than likely he’s just another weekend hacker knocking the ball
around like the rest of us duffers. 

          Sooner or later they’ll ask, “What do you do for a living?”

          I think it’s pretty hilarious when I tell them I’m an automotive repair shop owner/mechanic/author/columnist.  I guess to some people having all these
separate titles is kind of impressive; I think it’s pretty cool myself, but let’s
not forget… I’m really only a mechanic, who just so happens to write a column. 
First and foremost, I’m a mechanic. 

          Eventually they’ve got to ask about a car; they’ve got some sort of problem and want to know what I think is causing it.  Now, I don’t mind answering their question if the question can be answered without any further discussion. Example: the check engine light is on. Ok, bring it into the shop and I’ll scan it… here’s my card.  But, that’s hardly the case; it’s usually some strange bogus problem I’ll take a swing at with my best guess.  Time after time, I’ll get the “I already tried that” or “Really, you think that’s what it could be?”  Yes, that’s what I was thinking, and yes, that’s what I thought it could be. (Why do they come back with that question… of course that’s what I thought it could be… do they “think” I thought it was something else?  I would have said, “I think it’s something else…”) 

           Then they have to drag their “ringer” into the game… the old “my regular mechanic said…” Ok,… time to move onto the next hole. I hear it’s a par 5… a tough one.  Enough car talk for the day.  

           I’m playing golf right at the moment; let’s leave the shop at the shop.  I’m not scanning an EVAP system for a P0455 code. I’m trying to focus on the wind direction and the elevation to make this 150 yard shot with my 8 iron. I’m not trying to tell if the gas cap is tight. I mean, I could talk car repair and play golf at the same time, but honestly… I don’t keep a wrench and a scanner in my golf bag, nor do I keep a 2 iron in my tool box.  I get into enough hazards on the golf course, so let’s make this putt and move on to the next T box.  Drop the car stuff for just a little while.  As matter of fact why not hold your thought until a more appropriate time… like over a beer at the club house, while we’re adding up the Nassau’s for the day.

          When I’m asked automotive technical questions I don’t know how in-depth my answer should be. Most people outside of the automotive industry don’t seem to be interested in discussing the difference between direct fuel injection and multi-port injection.  I could… really I could, but then I guess it’s only boring if you bore people with it.  I think it’s fascinating what the human mind can come up with, and how we as technicians take these ideas and put them into practice.

          Car repair can be on many levels, and it’s what level you’re on that makes a difference.  It’s like a handicap in golf.  If you know what the other guy’s handicap is you can still play the game.  It doesn’t matter if they’re not as good, we both play the same game just on different levels… it’s the same when talking about car repair.
Maybe that’s why I like golf.  It’s a simple game… swing, hit a ball, and move it from one spot on earth to another. Like car repair, you bring the car into the shop; you observe the problem, get the proper tools and “swing” away.

           Now, how much simpler can it get?  Hmmm, you know, neither is actually that simple.  They both take years of practice to get good.  Some people think golf is easy, ‘til they try it. It’s not that easy… to me, car repair, good diagnostics skills, and good communication skills with the customer are pretty much on an even par with a good golf swing. You’re not going to learn it over night.

           After playing all these years I still get frustrated at the game. I have those days I just can’t seem to find my swing. It reminds me of how I get at the shop on some occasion.  When I’m working on a job, and no matter what I seem to try, I just can’t put my finger on the cause of the problem.  I work at it and work at it.  Sometimes I have to take a few practice swings, maybe step away for a second, whatever works to get my head back in the game.  Not so much different than my golf game actually.  On some occasions my swing is off, so I need to take a break from it or try something new. Eventually I’ll find the problem, sometimes after I make the turn it comes to me. Pretty much like at the shop… walk away for a bit, and when I come back I’ll have the solution. 

     To keep my sanity on the golf course I try to avoid any conversations that lead into how to fix a problem with their personal cars. I always try to avoid getting my head in a hazard, while I’m in standing in the middle of the fairway.

           So, to say I play golf with an attitude, yea, I guess I do… to say I take my job and my career as an automotive tech serious enough to have an attitude about it… yea, you’re right again.  In the meantime let me get back to my golf game, the cars can wait … I’ve gotta sink this putt for eagle.