You Will NOT Be Mugged Off

, , | Right | June 15, 2020

I’m a female mechanic, but I’m also a welder and I spent a year in Finnish Defence Forces, so I’m trained as a gunsmith-corporal. We’re having a coffee break on a loading platform when an elderly customer pushes his lawnmower in front of us.

Customer: “Now, start earning your salary and take this up there!”

Without waiting or looking at us, he just walks around the corner to enter our shop. We exchange disbelieving grins and return inside to see what comes next. Inside, the customer is acting snobbish and bold, giving out a list of what to do to his lawnmower, and belittling products we have on sale. He goes on and on about them all being made in China without quality checks and about how the factory stamps are lying about the origin.

We’re getting irritated and my coworker is snapping back at him a bit sharply. We sell quality gardening machines which run literally twenty to thirty years if maintained right. Luckily, he leaves after noticing that our mood to serve him is getting very cold.

A week passes…

The customer appears and wants to buy a big trimmer. He continues belittling everything but now he includes chauvinist jokes! I ignore this as usual and start to prepare the trimmer for test use.

Customer: “No, no, no! Don’t put gas in it! It will leak in my car!”

Me: “This is a brand-new machine; the cap will hold. It won’t leak, and we can put a plastic bag around the engine just in case.”

Customer: “No! It will leak! Don’t put gasoline in!”

Me: “Are you sure you want to take this with you without testing its use? You’ll know that if you do, we can’t guarantee it works and you are on your own with it.”

The customer thinks for a moment, and just when I start hoping he’ll just take the d*** thing and leave, he has an idea. 

Customer: “You can put some gasoline in and then pour it back to a canister after.”

We do that and I test-run the engine. Giving instructions is easy; he listens and hopefully understands. He makes only a few mild chauvinist jokes.

Me: “Okay! You can now go back to the shop. I’ll get you an equipment box and carry the trimmer out for—”

I’ve walked ahead to get the key and I hear the loud cracking sound of porcelain breaking behind me. THAT sound was my own personal Disney Princess coffee mug breaking. 

Customer: “Oops. Hope that wasn’t expensive.”

The customer storms past me carrying the trimmer.

I have had enough. Being rude, chauvinist, ignorant, and stupid, I can take any day at my work, but you don’t break stuff and just lift your shoulder about it. As he comes back for the extra equipment box, I approach him, holding the broken mug.

Me: “You broke my mug. I told you I’d bring the trimmer and there’s a d*** good reason for it. THIS.” *Shaking the mug* “And this.”

I point at the huge “WORKSHOP — NO CUSTOMERS” sign next to the workshop door.

The customer is about to take the box and head casually out but he freezes. I’m short and polite to customers, so my stern, strong military-command voice takes him by surprise. 

Me: “The workshop is slippery due to oil on the floors; if you slip and hurt yourself, our insurance won’t help you.”

Customer: “But I have my own—”

Me: “That doesn’t matter. We handle machines in the workshop so customers like you don’t hurt themselves or break anything. Customers don’t have anything to do there for many good reasons. I told you to go to the store side. Now. You owe me for that mug. It was my d*** favorite Disney mug.”

The customer is stunned and his eyes are nailed to the floor as he has realized there’s no use trying to argue with me or be a smarta**. 

Customer: “How much do you want for it?”

After giving me ten euros, he slips away very, VERY fast without looking up again. I should have announced a higher price, but just having the opportunity to give him a brimstone-and-fire lecture was priceless. When he is gone, I notice there’s another customer at the desk. 

Customer #2: “Did he break that?”

Me: “Yep. I’m not letting anyone in the workshop today.”

Customer #2: *Amused* “Then it was right to demand payment. It should be clear why the workshop is for mechanics only.”

I hope we’ll never see that snob again, and if that misfortune appears, I’ll make sure to be there, glaring at him and just waiting for him to give me a reason to smack his oversized ego down again.

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Rotate Your Tires And Your Assistants

, , , , , | Working | April 20, 2020

Recently, I had all four tires changed on my car. This was due to general wear and tear. I had done my research on the brand and went to my nearest garage to have them fitted. Upon phoning, I was told that I did not need to preorder as they always kept that brand in stock.

A few weeks later, my back tire began to slowly deflate. I found a nail in the tire, and as there was construction near my workplace, I realised I needed a new tire. It sucked, but it was no one’s fault — apart from the construction site, and I did phone to let them know.

I journeyed to the garage to get my back tire replaced. Instantly, the assistant told me that they did not sell the type of tires I wanted, and instead tried to upsell me on several options — a good £50 more than my brand. I was told over and over that they just didn’t sell my brand.

Confused, I asked to speak to the manager only to be told he was at another location. Unable to get through to the guy, and combined with the fact I could physically see the tires I wanted through the window, I decided to Google the other mechanic and speak to the manager directly.

As soon as I greeted the manager, the assistant wildly began typing and claimed to have found a deal on this brand, and that he had miraculously found some in the “warehouse.”

I turned my back and left, speaking to the manager as I went. He was furious and offered to replace my back tire for a severely discounted rate, which I took him up on the next day.

The assistant was not there when I went back.

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When Misogyny Melts Away

, , | Right | April 15, 2020

I’m a female mechanic at a gardening tool shop. We have only three people working and I’m doing my practical training in a school program to be a “small engine mechanic.” That means everything smaller than a car: chainsaws, lawnmowers, motorcycles, and microcars. An older gentleman walks in and I greet him, as I’m alone at the workshop.

Customer: “Hello! Are there some male workers around? I need to ask something about spare parts. You wouldn’t know anything about them.”

One of those again. I sigh in my mind and keep smiling politely and ignore the first part.

Me: “Hi. Unfortunately, my coworkers are off at the moment but let’s hear you out. What seems to be the problem?”

The customer seems to have a light-bulb moment.

Customer: “Well… you might actually know, as well.”

He explains about his big trimmer. He wants a new piston, o-ring, seals, shaft, cylinder, and lower plastic body part of the engine. Apparently, the engine has “cut off,” meaning it’s basically dead and won’t hold pressure needed to work, etc. I do my best recalling approximate prices of new parts and how long it would take to fix it. It would mean changing the whole engine and I recommend he declare the trimmer dead. A new one would be cheaper.

The whole time while I am explaining costs and parts, he starts to look more and more embarrassed and humble. He also tells me how he misused the trimmer causing it to cut off and basically melt inside. My coworker enters the workshop and takes his seat without a glance since he knows I know what I’m doing.

Customer: *To my coworker* “Is that so, that I broke it? New parts cost more than a new machine?”

Coworker: “Yep. Not worth fixing.”

My coworker then explains exactly the same stuff I told the guy a few moments ago. The customer looks a bit sheepish.

Customer: “Okay. Could you show me some new trimmers?”

Thank you, good sir, for brushing off misogynist prejudice and accepting professional help from a lady mechanic. You were first to really admit being wrong about me; others haven’t been as quick and smart as you were and it saved my day.

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Pump The Brakes, Bigot

, , , , | Working | March 17, 2020

(When I am in high school, my mother’s car starts to make a strange noise. Twice, she takes it to the mechanic, and each time the worker at the mechanic tells her it is nothing to worry about. Because I have taken so many auto mechanic classes myself, I decide to check the car and I find that her brake pads are incredibly worn down. I quickly tell her, and she gives me permission to fix them for her. Once I am done, the noise stops. A week later, we are buying oil in the same shop and are being assisted by [Worker #2]. The worker who checked the car, [Worker #1], walks up to us.)

Worker #1: “Here about that noise again? I told you, it’s nothing to worry about.”

Mother: “Actually, my daughter fixed it. How did you miss my brake pads? They were so worn down, they could’ve caused me to get in an accident!”

Worker #1: “Wait, what? I checked those pads; they were fine.” *looks at me and sneers* “She probably lied to you, making you think the problem is solved. There’s no way a [slur for the mentally disabled] like her knows anything about cars.”

(We all stare at him, shocked. [Worker #2] recovers the quickest.)

Worker #2: “Get your stuff and get out.”

Worker #1: “What?”

Worker #2: “[Store Manager] warned you that if you insulted another customer, you were fired. Now, get out.”

Worker #1: “You can’t fire me! I’ll tell [Store Owner] you fired me unfairly! I–”

([Worker #2] rolls his eyes. He grabs something from behind the counter and shows it to [Worker #1]. He looks at it and suddenly pales.)

Worker #2: “I am [Store Owner]. Now get out.”

([Worker #1] stormed away and got his stuff, screaming obscenities on his way out. The owner of the shop gave us a coupon for a free brake replacement, apologizing to my mother. Now, five years later, I’m starting my job as his new mechanic!)

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Just Reading This Is Tire-ing

, , , , , , | Right | March 11, 2020

One night while I’m towing, I get a call to go change a tire. When I pull up behind the vehicle, a woman comes out. I get my equipment ready and ask where her spare tire is located.

She gets a confused look on her face and tells me that she doesn’t have a spare tire, and she thought I’d bring one.

After explaining to her that tow truck drivers don’t carry spare tires for other vehicles, and as there is a tire shop not too far away and I can see it from where I am, I offer to tow her vehicle to the tire shop.

She refuses, telling me she’s got a spare tire at home. She’ll take a cab — about 60 km round trip — to go get it and bring it back. As it is a fair distance, I offer to tow her vehicle home for her, as that would save a lot of money. She refuses and calls a cab to go get her spare.

About an hour and a half later, I get a call for a flat. It turns out it’s the same woman, this time with a tire, but not a rim. I explain to her that I can’t install a tire on a rim as I don’t have the required equipment or training to do so.

Again, I offer to tow her vehicle to the tire shop, and this time, I tell her I’ll only charge her for the tire change — about $40 — instead of the tow, which would cost about $80 or so. Again, she refuses and I leave the scene. I don’t get another call from her.


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