Ya smell that? Somethin’ stupid’s about ta happen!
June 22, 2018 10:00 PM   Subscribe

"A few years back, I worked for a small, questionably honest used car dealership and repair shop. I'm a service writer, which means I'm the interface between customers (who are idiots) and the technicians (who are mostly felons). Think Tom Smykowski from Office Space. I will warn you ahead of time, I am not the hero of my stories, just the protagonist. There are no heroes in the car industry - we are all villains in our own ways." u/36055512 regales r/talesfromtechsupport with stories about Dishonest Used Car Dealership. posted by J.K. Seazer (69 comments total) 117 users marked this as a favorite
 
:D I am going to enjoy these -- despite not having or wanting a car, I am addicted to Car Talk and love hearing about the processes involved in buying / servicing cars!
posted by batter_my_heart at 10:26 PM on June 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


Former dealership employee here. This checks out.
posted by thesmallmachine at 10:52 PM on June 22, 2018 [5 favorites]


Even the second one was too much for me. In his mind, the narrator is an Aaron Sorkin hero who speaks in well-reasoned paragraphs while everyone else is an incoherent gibbon.
posted by tirutiru at 11:02 PM on June 22, 2018 [17 favorites]


I am now curious which sandwich shop's sandwiches they keep using as currency; I could use a good sandwich...
posted by batter_my_heart at 11:36 PM on June 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


"The stakeout" is about stalking and a woman not being safe in her workplace, so you might want to skip that one.
posted by Vesihiisi at 12:28 AM on June 23, 2018 [7 favorites]


In his mind, the narrator is an Aaron Sorkin hero who speaks in well-reasoned paragraphs while everyone else is an incoherent gibbon.

I would put it more charitably as another example of an unreliable narrator. He says he is merely a protagonist and not a hero in this from the get-go and I'm inclined to believe him.
posted by solarion at 12:39 AM on June 23, 2018 [9 favorites]


These are good. Even if they are a blatant attempt at getting a screenplay deal, these ring true and dude is a good writer and I would watch this version of The Office with Colossal Redneck and Incompetent Tech Guy. I’ll bet dude is from the PNW, I had a very clear image in my mind of this place.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:08 AM on June 23, 2018 [6 favorites]


I would put it more charitably as another example of an unreliable narrator. He says he is merely a protagonist and not a hero in this from the get-go and I'm inclined to believe him.

This. I binge read them in bed this morning as I couldn't sleep. Over the course of them he goes through the writer's journey of getting better at telling stories and more aware of his own role in the narration (shit, we've all had to do it). That in turn tightens them up, but also leads to him revealing more about himself than he would likely have expected to admit at the beginning.

It's important to remember that good writers don't emerge fully formed. Indeed as someone who writes, I'm very grateful that some of my early stuff isn't available online. When people are new to it, and they manage to hit the ground as well as he does, then they deserve to be read and stuck with for a bit rather than just dismissed.

And - as others have said - there are some genuinely great work stories in there. My Aunt runs a garage, and I've spent enough time around her and some of her mechanics to recognise elements of the stories here.

"The stakeout" is about stalking and a woman not being safe in her workplace, so you might want to skip that one.

I'm sure it's not your intention but I feel it's important to point out that the narrator isn't the stalker. Indeed I'd actually say I found it one of the most important (albeit most uncomfortable) ones to read, if you can.

That's because it is - ultimately - meant to be a story that 'ends well' (as that's his narrative format). I won't spoil it, but I think it's a pretty good example of a lot of the real shitty workplace stuff that happens to women but slides below the male radar. The stuff I've had my eyes opened to here, and elsewhere, about how the 'best case' scenario for most women facing everyday harassment at work - even when they find some allies, and proof, and the police are successfully involved - is still shit for them.

And despite his raconteur style, you can sort of tell that by the end of writing the piece, the author has clearly started to realise that himself. There's a tonal shift in all the stories after that piece that's very noticeable.

Basically, if you're umming and ahhing about reading these, but like a good work water-cooler story, then do. There's some good stories there, and you get to watch a writer grow. He's not perfect, but by the end you get the impression that he's started to realise that too.
posted by garius at 1:10 AM on June 23, 2018 [47 favorites]


I saw the long list of links, went, "well, I'll read one" and got hooked. Binge read them all. This sort of reminds me of the blog I used to read way back in the day- ask a waiter or some-such.

What I like about it is that the dude has a moral compass, is in a pretty toxic environment, and manages to do good stuff.

Regarding "The Stakeout" I thought it was great that he was such a support to The Diplomat, not that he was a hero, but just THERE and supportive when needed.

Thanks for posting- I very much enjoyed reading these.
posted by freethefeet at 2:03 AM on June 23, 2018 [4 favorites]


So a bit of VW bashing here. I can fully confirm any and all the stories regarding VW reliability. Don't get me wrong. VW's can be fun cars with one caveat. If you have not sold by the time your VW warranty is up forget it - you're a glutton for punishment dollar wise. Buying used? Sure, if you're independently wealthy.

My experience with a 1985 Vanagon Westfalia still leaves me with Post Traumatic Wallet Stress Disorder. Rube Goldberg would have been proud of the engineering... When mine was a total loss, I non-nonchalantly suggested to my wife maybe we can get a Eurovan Camper. I still shudder thinking about the glance I got on that suggestion. Once, when at a repair shop, a frequent occurrence after 200k miles, the service rep said innocently enough, "Wow, great Westy, do you take many trips?" My wife, without missing a beat said "Yes, trips like this." The rep looked puzzled. My wife certainly has a sense of humor.
posted by WinstonJulia at 2:21 AM on June 23, 2018 [18 favorites]


(Also I'm secretly hoping that more of this kind of thing will be posted in the comments here. hint hint.)
posted by freethefeet at 2:21 AM on June 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


It definitely gets better later on.

I thought this was nicely written, and decently self-aware:
“That’s what I thought. Well, I’m afraid, The International Court of My Office finds Lady Applebee’s guilty of filling the Dodge with gasoline with a secondary charge of being an asshole about it. The punishment is hereby set at Sales paying for the price of repairs.”
posted by ambrosen at 2:21 AM on June 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


Aye. See also from 'Friends and Family' later on in the series:

I nodded. Photographer Girl had a theory that conversation between guys is less about exchanging information and more about establishing a domain of knowledge and skill where you can be the dominant party in the room. The older I’ve gotten, the more I think she might have been right.
posted by garius at 2:29 AM on June 23, 2018 [24 favorites]


these were really great, thanks for sharing!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:34 AM on June 23, 2018


I’ll bet dude is from the PNW, I had a very clear image in my mind of this place.

I'm sure folks in the Reddit comments figured it out somewhere, there's more than enough detail to figure out the dealership these stories are set in for anybody who's shopped for diesel vehicles in the Seattle area.

Amazingly, they're still in business.
posted by lantius at 2:36 AM on June 23, 2018 [3 favorites]


This. I binge read them in bed this morning as I couldn't sleep. Over the course of them he goes through the writer's journey of getting better at telling stories and more aware of his own role in the narration (shit, we've all had to do it). That in turn tightens them up, but also leads to him revealing more about himself than he would likely have expected to admit at the beginning.

It's important to remember that good writers don't emerge fully formed. Indeed as someone who writes, I'm very grateful that some of my early stuff isn't available online. When people are new to it, and they manage to hit the ground as well as he does, then they deserve to be read and stuck with for a bit rather than just dismissed.


This is very true, but I also think Reddit long-form writing has a consistent problem with this, when a writer crops up who starts out good and develops, the massive amount of praise they get from within their community always seems to go to their heads in a way that affects their writing, I think negatively. They grow in skill and maturity at the normal rate, but in perceived fame and skill they grow much faster. You don't normally start writing with a self-conscious voice and then have dozens or hundreds of novelty-starved redditors clamoring for more. They self-flanderize to an extent. It always seems to culminate in them no longer posting on reddit and starting work on a book project, which IME never actually come out because writing long form internet posts and writing a coherent book are radically different things. It's not the fault of the writer, there's nothing wrong with wanting to get paid for your work or to have it be more official, and it's a problem with the medium that you can be so close to so many possible fans, but it seems to chew up a lot of talent. Moves too fast. Maybe too external?

Other than that slight note, these were lovely, really enjoyed them. It's always fun to read stories from inside service industries, all the more so from the perspectives of people in more unusual or obscure jobs (I for one, had no idea there was a difference between a service tech and a service writer, but in retrospect that's a set-up I've seen before.). I enjoyed his character names, it's good to know other people also have mental names for co-workers. Our RM and GM are both confusingly named John, and I have gotten most of my lab to start referring to the RM as 'Crossfit Boss', my own mental name for him. Hopefully we see more from this guy in the future, well worth the time.
posted by neonrev at 2:55 AM on June 23, 2018 [10 favorites]


Read a few of these and he’s improving as a writer. Just finished The Fall of Man and laughed out loud at the Raver gliding past at the end shouting “Haveagooddaysir”.
posted by arcticseal at 3:35 AM on June 23, 2018


These are great!
posted by um at 4:12 AM on June 23, 2018


Fantastic, thanks for posting.
posted by nolnacs at 4:51 AM on June 23, 2018


So a bit of VW bashing here. I can fully confirm any and all the stories regarding VW reliability. Don't get me wrong. VW's can be fun cars with one caveat. If you have not sold by the time your VW warranty is up forget it - you're a glutton for punishment dollar wise. Buying used? Sure, if you're independently wealthy.

I bought a shiny new 1999 Passat Wagon back in late 98 on a 4 year note, and drove it for 17 years.

I will *never* beat that record, and I accept that it's an outliar for a number of reasons, but I concur. It's designed for a 3 year lease with minimal service, and then a never-ending revenue stream for the service department.

It was FUN AS HELL, and I LOVED IT. And I got really lucky by hooking up with a local VW garage, whose attitude was, if it'll pass inspection, it's safe, and limited the work to the necessary. I wouldn't have even considered holding it until it died at dealer-service rates.

( How can Bosch make a wiring harness that melts on salted NE roads??? )

Well, it died on the way to work one morning, and I'm now in a 2008 outback, which has the same wheelbase and other dimensions. I still look lovingly at the new Passats I see though.
posted by mikelieman at 5:52 AM on June 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


These are funny, but I wish there wasn't a giant USE OUR MOBILE APP banner at the bottom of the screen with a GREAT BIG "Yes I want to install your stupid app for a website I never go to" button and a teeny tiny "No just let me read the thing" link that's squashed so close to the Great Big Button that I risk accidentally tapping the wrong thing and getting booted off to the App Store.

I took it as the universe trying to remind me that I am supposed to avoid Reddit because it has The Foulness, and to go do something else instead. Thanks, World.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:00 AM on June 23, 2018 [5 favorites]


Huh I’ve been random act of sandwiching and never thought to call it that. Though it’s usually burgers or fruit smorgasbord for 12 at tax time.
posted by tilde at 6:28 AM on June 23, 2018


I can just imagine the poster for the movie adaptation: "Used -- He's not the hero. He's just the mechanic."
posted by DataPacRat at 7:20 AM on June 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


Maybe I've spent long enough in tech that I live entirely in the 'Well, it depends...' grey area of knowledge, which I think is a balance between what's possible in pure technical terms and what's possible once you widen your view to the people, processes and secondary effects cascading out of technical changes. I'm also smart enough to know that whatever your job in I.T. is-- you're in support, your clients are the employees of the business, and secondarily are the customers of that business.

With that in mind-- even the first story seems like I'd hate for this person to be in my business. The directive is move to 6 identifiers for the VIN, because the last six digits is a more unique identifier. If you're smart enough to know that it will lead to short-term problems, since 4 digit references are floating around, then build that into your changes.

Instead this person decides to just make everyone's experience the worst possible, the employee requesting details, which he admits to being able to quickly search, but chooses not to. The customer who wastes time and leaves without a car they might have bought. The narrator themselves for wasting a day going to 6 digits and I assume another day going back to 4.

And then declares Victory? Fuck that guy.
posted by Static Vagabond at 7:53 AM on June 23, 2018 [5 favorites]


I only read the first story but the IT guy wasn't wrong. With 30 cars and 10,000 4 digit numbers, the birthday paradox says there's a 4.3% chance of two cars having the same last 4 digits of their VIN. That's too high a chance to be safe. Yes, I'm the math nerd "well actually"ing the joke.
posted by Nelson at 8:11 AM on June 23, 2018 [15 favorites]


I read them all and mostly enjoyed them but a lot of the stories had a "too good to be true" vibe, and a bragging tone that reminded me of people I've met in real life who are always going on about how much money they used to make or some impossible scam like using the same receipt to walk out of Sam's Club with six big TVs or whatever.

Also, the four-digit VIN thing really came home to roost when Lady Applebee's sold the wrong car to that nice young family, didn't it?
posted by Orlop at 8:16 AM on June 23, 2018 [4 favorites]


Wow! What a roller coaster ride. I cackled my way through many of the stories. Thank you for posting this.
posted by cynical pinnacle at 8:52 AM on June 23, 2018


Instead this person decides to just make everyone's experience the worst possible, the employee requesting details, which he admits to being able to quickly search, but chooses not to.

Did you miss the part where The Boss said to have it done by the end of the day, and brooks no discussion about it? I'd do it the worst way possible, too.
posted by tclark at 9:39 AM on June 23, 2018 [11 favorites]


Extremely entertaining. It almost makes me want to write up some of the insane stories from my time working at a mobile home dealership in Kentucky. But even ten years after leaving that job, it still feels Too Soon to dredge up some of that crazy shit.
posted by JeffL at 9:41 AM on June 23, 2018 [5 favorites]


The stories are very entertaining. His commenting downthread reveal that he's not someone I'd want to spend any time around.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:44 AM on June 23, 2018


I think I've worked with ITG. Big, honkin' diesel pickup and creeper attitude and all. Must be something the teach in school.

..........
So a bit of VW bashing here. I can fully confirm any and all the stories regarding VW reliability. Don't get me wrong. VW's can be fun cars with one caveat. If you have not sold by the time your VW warranty is up forget it - you're a glutton for punishment dollar wise. Buying used? Sure, if you're independently wealthy.

Yup. To be fair, it totally depends on which era of VW you're buying. For the most part, VW's modern rep for building shitcans was earned during the time of the Mk IV Golf and Jetta platform. They were great right off the lot, but after a couple of years you discover how badly they fall apart. Those models had a paltry 50,000 mile warranty, too.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:47 AM on June 23, 2018


Millennial era Passat was one of the fluke nice VW, made by Audi. My brother had one.
posted by ovvl at 9:58 AM on June 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


>Did you miss the part where The Boss said to have it done by the end of the day, and brooks no discussion about it?

Well sure, but I don't see in what universe ITG gets the heat from boss, rather than Service Manager for not catering to demanding boss's every whim. I think ultimately Tales From X is a tall tale genre that doesn't work for me no matter how compelling the setting.
posted by muddgirl at 10:04 AM on June 23, 2018


This reminds me of Ali Davis' True Porn Clerk Stories. I read them online originally, but still bought the book. I'd buy a book of this. It also reminds me of books like Frank Abagnale's, Kevin Mitnick's, or maybe Cliff Stoll's The Cuckoo's Egg, crossed with IT dudes in IRC chat, the kind of people who test weird automotive IT stuff out and send it in to 2600 (which, yeah, I subscribe to). I grew up in a car city with a basement full of locks my father used to lockpick and other entirely unrecognizable metal, from old car parts to old projectors picked up at a school-district sale to a smelting pot full of lead, with a good number of close friends and boyfriends whose parents were engineers or mechanics (or worked the other types of shitty jobs at places like this shop). Many of my friends went into engineering or IT themselves, spending off hours playing D&D and hosting LAN parties and endless-hangout movie nights. So yeah, in some sense, this guy is my people, even if he's an (admitted) idiot.

The unreliable narrator aspect reminds me of those geek dudes I grew up with, too smart for their station in life, stuck in shitty workplaces, so lured into making it all a ridiculous game and opportunity for later storytelling. I read a lot of Tucker Max once upon a time (yeah, I own I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell), as well as the Goldman Sachs elevator guy, John LeFevre, and his book Straight to Hell, and this reminds me a little bit of all that. The overqualified lowering themselves to the level of the obnoxious, ethics be damned—and yet there's that edge of pride, too, at their work ethic, the ridiculous things they think up, etc. It's so dumb but kind of endearing.
posted by limeonaire at 10:34 AM on June 23, 2018 [11 favorites]


Reading these brings back a warm flush of fond recollection for the BOfH series which I read as a PFY.
posted by drewbage1847 at 11:25 AM on June 23, 2018 [12 favorites]


This really makes me wish I could tell some of the crazy stories at my job. However, I fear someone would claim that I was breaking regulations even if I don't actually break any.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:32 AM on June 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


True Porn Clerk Stories! That takes me back. It's great that the author got a book deal out of it.

It don't know if it fits exactly into the genre but I loved Things that my girlfriend and I have argued about. The novel by the same name wasn't nearly as good. And I guess that's fair - this guy entertained me so much for free. In return I pay for his other ho hum work.
posted by tirutiru at 11:45 AM on June 23, 2018 [7 favorites]


Fun fact: Bofh (bastard operator from hell) was reprinted in PC Quest magazine, India. I am sure I laughed with only a vague idea of what all those words meant - server, newsgroup, database...
posted by tirutiru at 11:55 AM on June 23, 2018 [7 favorites]


Since there have already been shoutouts to True Porn Clerk Stories, and BOfH, I'll submit for consideration The Acts of Gord from the owner of Gamer's Edge Video Game shop in Penticton, British Columbia, Canada, circa late '90s - early naughties.
posted by radwolf76 at 12:47 PM on June 23, 2018 [6 favorites]


I'm sure folks in the Reddit comments figured it out somewhere, there's more than enough detail to figure out the dealership these stories are set in for anybody who's shopped for diesel vehicles in the Seattle area.

Based on this comment and the geographical hints in the second story, I think I figured out which place it is AND where the amazing sandwiches come from and I think I'm going to go get a sandwich right now because it is just 10 minutes from my house and it's lunchtime.
posted by lunasol at 12:53 PM on June 23, 2018 [22 favorites]


Do report back please.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 1:04 PM on June 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


yeah I enjoyed these, but his whole fedora-tipping "other people are idiots" tone can rankle pretty hard.
posted by entropone at 2:10 PM on June 23, 2018 [5 favorites]


limeonaire: I'd buy a book of this. It also reminds me of books like Frank Abagnale's, Kevin Mitnick's, or maybe Cliff Stoll's The Cuckoo's Egg, crossed with IT dudes in IRC chat, the kind of people who test weird automotive IT stuff out and send it in to 2600 (which, yeah, I subscribe to)

I remember in the early 00’s, there was a 2600 article written by someone who had test-drove (through legit means or not, I don’t recall) a prototype Big 3 vehicle with full-out night vision projected on the windshield. A few years later, the feature surfaced on Cadillac STS as a “nighttime driving assist” option. I guess there was no great civilian purpose to enabling people to drive with their headlights off.
posted by dr_dank at 5:46 PM on June 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


. . .there's more than enough detail to figure out the dealership these stories are set in for anybody who's shopped for diesel vehicles in the Seattle area.

Amazingly, they're still in business.
Hmmm. Either the end of the series includes rather a lot of artistic license, or it sure sounds like you've got the wrong shop.

These are surprisingly fun. I can't decide to what extent I believe them. And I'm not at all sure I'd like to spend time with the author. But, I've really enjoyed reading them.
posted by eotvos at 7:01 PM on June 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


Also of this genre is Ron from Clublife (RIP), which was a collection of NYC bouncer tales.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:10 PM on June 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


(I also just realized I meant Rob, so, uh.. whoops)
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:31 PM on June 23, 2018


While I appreciate the DS9 reference, it turns out that Rom was actually a decent Ferengi, and eventually became a sort of Pope Francis-type Grand Nagus.

He also always kept his teeth nice and sharp, so I'm not sure what the complaint is there.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:35 PM on June 23, 2018 [7 favorites]




Millennial era Passat was one of the fluke nice VW, made by Audi. My brother had one.

IIRC it was a re-badged A4. My memory of the late 90's ain't so great but they may have been made in Germany.
posted by mikelieman at 1:23 AM on June 24, 2018


”HELLO TO YOU, FRIENDS! Here I am comingk to be please to fixingk auto!”

It was unmistakably Russian.

Now, I love Russians. Or, more accurately, I love Russian women.


OK, I sincerely hope it gets better from here. Because I've been able to suspend disbelief and look past the Nice Guy™ Smarter Than Entire Workplace to an extent, but this bit made me just want to stop completely.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 8:21 AM on June 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


Yeah, dude needs to watch it with the dialect use. He seems like he's reasonably aware of racism and classism's existence, from other parts of the stories, but maybe no one's told him that's racist and othering, and it crops up with his characterizations of even people he's friendly with (e.g., Colossal Redneck, the Linebacker, etc.). I was willing to read past it to see what happened, but yeah, it's not great. This also reminds me of people I grew up with, unfortunately; a lot of people don't get why this is an issue ("but they're my friends and they're OK with it" and "but that's really how they sound" are common responses to this kind of critique). Hopefully if he ever moves beyond this phase of publishing his editor will also help him cut that out.
posted by limeonaire at 8:57 AM on June 24, 2018


The more of these I read, especially the two fire stories, the more I kept being reminded of Ducks.
posted by Wretch729 at 9:47 AM on June 24, 2018


I nodded. Photographer Girl had a theory that conversation between guys is less about exchanging information and more about establishing a domain of knowledge and skill where you can be the dominant party in the room. The older I’ve gotten, the more I think she might have been right.

I find that this is true once the number of people in the room is greater than two. A one-on-one conversation between guys usually doesn't have this dynamic, unless one of the guys is extremely insecure. But add a third person - man or woman - and suddenly a least one of the guys has to start strutting.
posted by clawsoon at 10:45 AM on June 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


I liked the humility in this exchange he had with a commenter:

I mulled over long and hard how to present these people, because I so badly didn't want to fall into these stereotypes...I've tried as much as possible to let the audience see that these were real, rounded people, but the confines of telling an entertaining story in a short format make that a challenge. Like, the times where Lady Applebee's didn't fuck something up or the times The Diplomat made a little mistake in her paperwork just aren't all that interesting. Nevertheless, I hope the women in these stories ring true to the women in my audience.

It sounds like he knows he's not doing the best job but isn't sure quite how to do any better within the constraints the other constraints he's accepted, which is a familiar feeling.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 2:22 PM on June 24, 2018 [2 favorites]


I have kept this tab open waiting for a report from lunasol on the sandwiches, and I am starting to become concerned. Could the toxic waste dumped by the dealership have contaminated the sandwich shop's water supply?
posted by zachlipton at 4:42 PM on June 24, 2018 [4 favorites]


I would also like to request the sandwich place, since I think I know where the dealership was, and if I'm right, my new office is in the same neighborhood.

More on-topic, yeah, these definitely scratch the porn clerk/tales from the waiter itch I haven't had in a long time. He's even kind of the right level of douchey for that early-oughts internet feeling. That said, The Fire is...honestly really good. And maybe shows people at their most real? It feels the most real.
posted by kalimac at 5:23 PM on June 24, 2018 [3 favorites]


Hmmm. Either the end of the series includes rather a lot of artistic license, or it sure sounds like you've got the wrong shop.

Well, they moved a couple times, and had a few name changes along the way, but it's the same owners and at least from the posts on the TDIClub forums it appears to be the same "quality".
posted by lantius at 9:15 PM on June 24, 2018


Sandwich non-update: I read a few more entries and the power outage one made me realize I was not thinking of the right place. Or maybe he was making up random neighboring businesses. Anyway, I wound up just going to the taco truck nearby. And then forgot metafilter existed for the rest of the weekend. Sorry!

This is driving me a little crazy though, because I KNOW it’s Seattle and it seems likely to be the East Side but can’t figure out where.
posted by lunasol at 11:09 PM on June 24, 2018 [8 favorites]


I'd love to know what people think it is; I live in Seattle too, and I'm super curious.
posted by ChrisR at 4:57 PM on June 25, 2018


Regardless of the "truthiness" of these stories, It's amazing to me how many small businesses are run by complete raging assholes who seem to have no business sense or people skills whatsoever. Even so, it seems like this place was making money, albeit in a low-rent predatory fashion, and would have continued if not for the events kicked off by ITG.
posted by Mr. Big Business at 5:30 PM on June 25, 2018 [3 favorites]


Regardless of the "truthiness" of these stories, It's amazing to me how many small businesses are run by complete raging assholes who seem to have no business sense or people skills whatsoever. Even so, it seems like this place was making money, albeit in a low-rent predatory fashion, and would have continued if not for the events kicked off by ITG.
posted by Mr. Big Business at 5:30 PM on June 25


I feel like you may be just a tad biased
posted by J.K. Seazer at 5:47 PM on June 25, 2018 [7 favorites]


Man, for all the people who got pissed at the gent's tone... I kind of loved it? Like. The genre of "I'm surrounded by all these idiots" is a classic one in humor for a reason! This isn't documentary writing, and I'm never going to see any of these people again; I'm fine with him not being totally fair to his boss or whatever. I want to read these to laugh, not to fret about how the people in it are not perfect or are imperfect. I really loved getting to read these out, actually, to friends in the car on a road trip yesterday.

Further, it's pretty clear to me reading these that of course he doesn't actually think most of these folks are idiots. The IT guy, yes. The two bosses, maybe--although you can make a better case that he thinks of them as impulsive, short-sighted, and greedy, which is not the same thing as being stupid. His technicians? Absolutely not! He talks freely and quite openly about their skills right alongside their odder quirks.

For example, he's clear to carefully praise Splinter's work ethic and his care for his job as well as the skill it takes to reverse-engineer this veggie conversion from a piece of absolute shit in his story about the Mercedes; he's very open the Colossal Redneck's savvy when it comes to working the system and repairing the power supply; he's outright glowing about The Diplomat and The Raver's approach to their respective jobs. He doesn't have a single negative thing to say about Miami Vice's work except for a sort of affectionate "ah, yeah, he's young and inexperienced."

I don't really get all the "oh he's the Only Smart One" complaining. He's not! It's just that he's in the middle of a sick system, and he's temporarily dealing with it the best ways he knows how while still making a paycheck. I like to read that sort of thing, and I'm glad he's written it.
posted by sciatrix at 7:10 PM on June 25, 2018 [19 favorites]


That was a curious thing for me. The author asserts that conditions are terrible industry-wide: wage disputes, late pay, shouting matches, fistfights. I could believe that an entire industry is paid poorly and overworked (hello, back of house food service), but I don't understand how the abuse persists. Shouldn't new shops show up offering the same terrible wages and hours, but just not throw pipe wrenches at their employees? I'd change jobs for that.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 8:23 PM on June 25, 2018


Well… maybe not entire industries, but there are a lot of shops where fighting and arguing is pretty normal, and it's among the employees as much as anyone. It's certainly true in carpentry. The GM I worked for was a non-shouting, non-fighting shop but even we had a carpenter who when he was frustrated would just start throwing his tools around, like smashing them on the ground, cursing continuously. People would just leave him alone for like five minutes and he'd get ahold of himself, no big deal. He was a talented carpenter and consistently showed up on time ready to work and he worked hard. Carpenters told stories of working for other people or other companies, where actual fighting was common. Some of those companies had been run by the same carpenters who were telling the stories. Some people want to work in an industry where they can occasionally take a swing at someone and not get fired. I'm not saying I agree with that, just describing my experience.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 9:27 PM on June 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


The stories are quite enjoyable and remind me of Simon Travaglia's BOFH stories from TheRegister.
posted by theora55 at 9:45 PM on June 25, 2018 [1 favorite]


sciatrix, I’m with you on this. Even if there’s some artistic license taken, it makes the stories enjoyable to read. And if we’re to believe the sandwich sleuths upthread, that means he’s in Portland now…
posted by a halcyon day at 10:59 PM on June 25, 2018


that's how you can tell when somebody didn't read all the comments.
posted by theora55 at 9:35 AM on June 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


From the comments to The Aerial Maneuver, I found a little gem that needs some recognition:

"Autocorrect: Just like that one kid who saves fish from drowning"
posted by whuppy at 7:09 AM on June 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


Regardless of the "truthiness" of these stories, It's amazing to me how many small businesses are run by complete raging assholes who seem to have no business sense or people skills whatsoever. Even so, it seems like this place was making money, albeit in a low-rent predatory fashion, and would have continued if not for the events kicked off by ITG.

If I had a better memory I could do quite the Tales from Veterinary Medicine series. There was the one time we gave a family the wrong black Lab when they picked up after a boarding stay and it took them the better part of a day to notice. The time a practice manager got our ER a new high-tech gurney "As a trial unit. If we don't like it we can return it." When he got fired for literally bankrupting the business we called the manufacturer to arrange for them to take it back and they said "We don't do that. You guys actually owe us $2000."
posted by Rock Steady at 9:41 AM on June 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


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