Thursday, March 11, 2010

Nomadic Mechanics, by Hot Rod Editor Doug Glad.. .. I want you to enjoy this too, a tribute to the mechanic

In the May 2010 Hot Rod, the Editor, Doug Glad, wrote this awesome tribute... enjoy!

The first time I spotted a nomadic mechanic was during my brief tenure at Loper Service Center, a fast food-style carb and intake installation center in Pheonix. He appeared one day dressed in linen-truck work blues with battered hands showing the burns and cuts of a guy who could spin a wrench. For most of the morning, he stood in the corner and smoked, and observed, and smoked. He was like a gunslinger, his movements slow and easy, waiting for your move.

His box appeared in the afternoon on the back of a chromed and flamed flatbed truck that looked like it could handle a car show or 50-car pileup with aplomb. The box was the big Snap-on roll cab, spotless, with a bulk section and 54-inch workstation riser in classic red. Its mass dwarfed all other boxes in the shop, including that of the boss, as a group of tatted mercenaries eased off the bedwith chains like a captured animal. It carried enough tools to work the heavy line, the tune-up bays, and maybe even the machine shop. He took every job and made twice as much cash as we did. A month later, he was gone.

These are my people. And if you've spent enough time under hoods and in the engine room and really know what you are doing, you become recognizeable as a clan member in any environment. I'm not talking about tattooed and faux-speed-shop Dickies -wearing guys; I'm talking about night-shift heavy liners with maybe some diesel truck experience and a serious handbuildt monster in the garage back home. They're easy to spot at the racetrack- it's tougher at the car show or cruise night. They show up later, and their cars make the horsepower sound that isn't all cam and Flowmasters. They can weld the top side of a muffler upside down with a smoke dangling out of their mouths, eat a sandwich with a black hand without tasting grease, and know that nut is 9/16 with a glance.

Along with engineering and manufacturing, this thing we do is supported by the professional, bread-and-butter mechanic; the serious veteran from aircraft, freight train, or shipyard work; the guy in the pit working the wrenches. The pit snipes with air-powered grease guns waiting to get a swat at your brand new boots, the heavyweight fromt he transmission bay shambling out of the back like the recently exhumed when the roach coach arrives, and the perfectionist front-line tune-up guy have all earned their places. If they choose to, they can help the clean-hands guy on the side of the road with his flat-tired import, or not, and they'll run across four lanes of traffic to help a girl in trouble.

These guys are the warriors behind the lines who do the jobs to keep the trucks, heavy gear, and maybe even your commuter running so you don't have to. Even if you aren't from the clan of the wrench, appreciate what they do every day to keep this industry going. They are the backbone, and they deserve your respect.

Give that man a hand, bravo! Email him at and let him know how much you enjoy that tribute!

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