Hot Rod Hot Head
Had a customer come in the shop a few years ago with a 52’ Ford pickup he was restoring. Most of the truck was in primer or bondo and most of the engine work was done. The real goal was to turn it into a show truck. It needed to be a class “A” job. Not a problem, I was up for the challenge. This was way back before the advent of the aftermarket wiring harness systems we have today, so everything had to be handmade and carefully laid out so it could be tucked out of view. It took me a week or so to get the project done, but it was worth the effort, everything was perfect and all the wiring was out of sight. You couldn’t have asked for a better looking job on any old truck. After I was done it was off for paint and new wheels. It was several months before I saw the truck again. Now it’s a shade of light blue with just a touch of silver metallic in it, beautiful paint and finish. He wanted me to add a cruise control to it before the interior was finished. Once the interior was done he was heading off to his first show. The aftermarket cruise control (he provided) worked great right out of the box, and the wiring was also as neat as the rest of the job. The next day the owner picked up the truck and was heading to the upholstery shop to have the carpet and interior finished. I figured the next time I would see this truck would be after he came by to show off the trophy he won, but was it was more than a year later before I heard from him again.
Apparently something came up and the truck was put on hold shortly after leaving my place. When the truck did show up, the outside looked as good as I remembered it. All new carpeting, seats, door panels… the works, and a working stereo system was installed that wasn’t there before.
I wasn’t too pleased to see all the worked I had done was now just a cobbled mess. When I asked the owner about it his only comment was that the carpet guy was the last one to work on it and his buddy at the carpet place swears up and down that it was my fault and that I didn’t know what I was doing. Now that was a strange answer, I certainly wasn’t expecting something like that coming from him.
I went ahead with the touch up work on the wiring that needed to be done. Wires from the stereo and wires from the cruise control were all bundled together like spaghetti. Later that afternoon I got a call from the upholstery guy, what a jerk… he called me every name in the book and made it perfectly clear he didn’t like mechanics.
“All you thugs that call yourself mechanics are nothing but a bunch of high school drop outs that couldn’t get a job flippin’ hamburgers,” the big mouth tack slinger screamed thru the phone.
As far as he was concerned the only expert in the whole entire world that knew anything about building a show quality truck was him. His continuous badgering of the automotive repair field went on and on. I finally had enough of it; I lashed back with a vengeance. I gave him both barrels of verbal abuse that I had and I didn’t give him a chance to open his big fat mouth before I slammed the phone down on the receiver.
Another couple of months go by and like a lot of those “hot head” jobs you tend to forget about them and just go on with the daily work. But there it was again… that same 52’ Ford in front of my shop.
“Hi ya doing buddy,” the owner says, “Got some more work for ya to do.” (Don’t ya know I was surprised.)
Are we like serious? Not like I’ve totally forgotten about dealing with his jackass carpet buddy. This time around he added even more stuff to the truck than before. Now the stock hood hinges had been removed and an aftermarket system was installed.
The new hinges allow the hood to be opened backwards. The “normal” front of the hood is now the hinge area and the end next to the windshield is the latching side. On the fenders there are a couple of looping chromed metal bars. These bars are what a pair of rollers ride between and guide the hood into place and hold the hood securely closed.
I’ve seen these before, they’re pretty trick. My job was to rewire the front headlights and turn signals that were cut out when the body shop installed the hinges. I had the work finished in no time, the owner picked up the truck with a smile. (As if there was never a problem.) As he was leaving he mentioned to me he was going back to the upholstery shop to have some details taking care of.
When he said that I kind of smiled, you know the type, the kind of fake smile you see on a store manikin. I knew there is trouble to follow; I just don’t know what kind. But, I’m sure of one thing… I’ll be blamed again.
A week later the truck showed back up. I could see from across the shop that the hood wasn’t closed correctly.
“Hi, what’s up? Looks like the hood isn’t shutting right, what happened to it?” I said with that now familiar manikin smile I had a week earlier.
“You should know what’s wrong with it!” he said angrily.
The next thing I know he was accusing me of the whole mess. Remembering how the “carpet tacker” rattled my cage before, I wasn’t going to stand for it a second time.
“First off, did it look correct when you left here a week ago?” I said.
“Yea, it did.” He answered.
“And then you went to your buddy the carpet dude again. This is sounding just like the cruise control problem all over again.”
“Call up there and find out if anybody looked at the engine.” I blared out at him.
Later he had his answer, it was what I had thought all along, somebody had the hood open and didn’t close it correctly. I ended up repairing the bent parts so the hood would close correctly and got the truck back to show condition.
The old 52 Ford and its owner only shows up once in awhile these days to show off a new “bling” he’s added, and as far as I know the upholstery hot head has packed his carpet bag and headed out of town.
Sure makes it tough to help out a customer when somebody has influenced them into believing your doing something wrong when all you’ve done is something right. Especially when they’re friends of the customer… and you’re just one of those… “mechanics”.