Eureka, I'm back.

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Jul 26, 2003
New Zealand
Oh dear, where to start, my wild ride of employment. 1970 to 1990, 20 years, and 20 jobs, all as a mechanic. But we won't go there, I'll just go over where I've been since I sold the shop I owned for 11 years, in 2007.

I've always had motorcycles, and have worked as a motorcycle mechanic, so took on a job at the local bike shop in the small town we'd moved to in 05. New owner, wants to ramp it up, needs another mech. It was terrible, I wasn't doing well there, I'd thought I'd lost it...too many years as the boss I couldn't work on the floor anymore. 6 months later and one of us could clear all the work by 2.00pm, so someone had to of course. So I went back to the city to run a shop for a guy who was in a bit of a pickle...his wife had died a few months earlier, so booked a months holiday in Aust (turned out to be 5 weeks) where he had family and another business interest. Then his lead tech who had been with him 15 years up and left, the apprentice caught his hand in a belt and was off work for several weeks. That left him with one Chinese mechanic....cancel or shut the shop. So I stepped in, and on the first day it was obvious it wasn't me with the problem at the bike shop, I was in my element. But, I'd done all this before, I'd run other people's shops for 10 years, my own for 11, I didn't want to do it anymore, didn't want the stress, I was descending back into that again. I wanted a dumb job - go to work, get told what to do, go home.

So I took a huge drop in pay ($5 per hour less !) and took a job at the dealership in town, doing most of the safety inspections (Warrant of Fitness we call it) services and light repairs. All good, but then a couple of problems...the GFC for a start, that's no time to leave a secure job. Also a small health issue, a hernia. We won't go into our health system, but it takes awhile to get sorted, and so I need to stay on light duties until it's fixed, and the recovery after. Stuck in the dumb job, and it's making me dumber. It's getting toxic too, the SM and his pet tech have got their own thing going, the SM makes sure his top boy gets all the good jobs, me and the other mech get the scraps. He is just so good, and we are just so stupid. But now I'm in my late 50's I'm lucky if I get a reply to a job application, it's looking like I'm stuck there. But then - Eureka !

Eureka is just a rural crossroad 40km from town - a school on one corner, War Memorial Hall on another, and a service station on the other, a few scattered houses. It's a farming community. The owner is the same age as me, he knows your brain doesn't turn to mush when you turn 60. He's had enough of young fellas brains. They work on cars, trucks, tractors, quad bikes, farm bikes, ride ons, feedout wagons, and everything to do with farming, and a small engineering shop too. I love the work, there is something different everyday, we fix things rather than just replace parts...and everything is fixable. He's stuck in the '70's, there is no PC, no consumer rights, no workers rights...there is just work to do, and we do it. I'm not dumb anymore, I'm relearning the stuff I used to know, and I'm given opportunities to learn new things. So, what went wrong ?

The day I start he's not there, he's in hospital. He has been given 5 years to live, if he carries on like he is now. So on the first week the for sale sign goes up. Pressure from his family to sell up, or shut it down. He also has a dairy farm just down the road, a 60 ft yacht he charters....etc. It's a good couple of years, but I'm kinda nervous if he shuts the place down and I'm on the streets trying to find a job in my '60's. And then certain people are leaving the dealership...and they want me back, so I go back...on my terms. They've been there over 50 years, it was a big operation, but then got split between 3 sons...the truck shop, the car shop, and the boat shop (which car company also made outboards ?) Bad times in town...the mine has shut down, farmers are in trouble, it costs more to milk cows than what they get for the milk, the power site is a ghost of it's former self. But the town is being bypassed (opening next week ), a huge deal, and we have the contract on the cars and utes....we are pumping out the work. And then it's winter, they aren't working on the road. Then some Japanese men in suits turn up and wander around. They say they don't think it's good main road site , they don't like this old building, a new new glass one would be better. Hey, in a few years it won't be a main road site, so why spend millions on a new building. So they pull the plug, and they shut our branch down. That's not what I planned !

So next day I've got a job back at the bike shop, 9 years later. New owner, seems a good guy, the place is much, much busier than before...should be good this time. Oh no ! It's worse, much, much worserer, and after 4 weeks of working with these horrible young guys I'm going to go in the next day and tell them to stick their job. But that night I get a call from the dealership owner...a new proposition. Looks like former customers are not happy with the shut down....they have a tractor/Ag shop in town, and they are setting up a corner for me to run a car shop. Oh,now that's good timing ! We put my old hoist in there, some of the good gear from the old shop. Now, this is a good deal, working with guys I know well in a big shop, but I've got my own thing going on, sort of my own boss, making my own decisions etc. Cruisey number, sometimes I'm busy, sometimes not. I get called to go and work in the main dealership too, so that's good for a change. A good couple of years....but then he pulls the plug because it's not paying for itself. He offers me a job at the main dealership 60km north. A good job, just doing the PD's and accessory fitting because the mechanics drag their heals on that stuff, and next minute the salesmen are screaming that car has to go out right now, but another salesman says his one has priority, blah, blah blah. I'll take it.

But then word gets out they are shutting down my little car shop, and the offers start coming in....I've got to decide between 4. I decide to just go across the road to the tyre shop, my old SM works there, and he wants me to work there too. They do car repairs too and are expanding. Not what I expected at 64, to have people chasing me to work for them. This is really good, the owner makes me feel that he's lucky to have me working for him, it's a great team environment. I feel this is the best job I've ever had, it's just so much fun there. I've always got on with the SM, just didn't like how he ran the old shop, but he seems to have leaned a thing or two, and he's really great now. I'm happy...for a couple of years.

But...then someone who used to work there comes back, it's good for awhile, but then he starts taking over. He's the blue eye boy, and the SM starts his pet tech thing again. It's obvious he doesn't like me, he won't talk to me, no good morning or anything...I'm expecting something to happen, and it does. The boss who was so happy with me suddenly isn't, and I've got a warning. We won't go into that, but another worker has just been levered out, and I see that's what is in store for me next. We can no longer be racist, sexist or ageist, so we'll just use other excuses.

I've kept in touch with my old boss at Eureka, and dropped in before Xmas....and he's still working there, by himself. I jokingly said I should come back and work for him part time....he said he would be ok with that. So a couple of weeks ago I asked him if he needed a hand, get the shop up and running again, take the pressure of him. I start on Monday.
Thanks for sharing that story.Things like that are happening everywhere in the rural areas up in Canada as well. Good luck,
One thing is certain: No one will look out for your interests like you will, so always do what is best for you.

Hopefully the new gig proves to be a good one.
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A timely thread dredge. 2020 was 2020, but it was great to be back doing a wide variety of work...we got the place up and running again. But now the boss has decided he won't work past March, it's just taking too much out of him. But he doesn't want the place to shut I'll keep it open. I don't want to take over the place, I just want to keep working there, I don't need the stress and drama at my age. Work flow will be hard to control, too little then too much, I may have to employ someone else, maybe part time. I'll just have to see how it goes.
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