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Tuesday, February 10, 2009


A young woman came in the shop just before closing time. She was dressed very nicely in slacks and a jacket, her brown hair swept back tightly at the back of the neck. She asked me for a job application. The woman reminded me so much of the female tech in my novel LAYLA it was rather disconcerting. Layla, for blog readers not familiar with the title is an as yet unsold manuscript I wrote about an auto shop owner who links up with a Djinn named Layla. He also hires a young woman diagnostic tech named Jill. I’ll call my young applicant Jill for that reason. This marks the first time a woman has stopped by the shop while I’ve owned it looking for a job.

“Hi, my name is Jill Jobhunter.”

Jill smiled and extended her hand. I shook it politely, noting she had a firm handshake. I’m immediately suspicious because no one walks in off the street and wants to shake my hand other than deadbeats and sales people. She didn’t look like either but I’ve thought the same thing before and been set straight.

“May I get a job application?”

“This is a one man shop…” I hesitate for a moment wondering how that sounded coming out. “What I mean is I don’t even have job applications because I work alone here.”

She had expected about anything other than that by the look on her face. My shop can accommodate six vehicles and I can tell she notices as there are four in it while we’re speaking. Jill looked around taking in the rather dark interior without being repulsed.

“How do you coordinate the parts, jobs, customers, and doing the work?”

Good question.

“Some days are better than others.”

“I’ll bet.” Jill laughed lightly, which means she’s worked repair somewhere else and knows how easy things can turn to crap. “Have you ever hired a tech here in the past?”

“No. I’ve always done the repairs alone. Workman’s comp and insurance…”

“I know.” Jill smiled, holding up her hand in a stopping gesture. Obviously, she’s heard how much it takes to hire a shop tech these days. She handed me a personal card. “If you ever want to hire a tech, I’ve graduated from Whiz-bang and I have all my ASE certifications.”

“Have you acquired a smog license?”

“Yes, but I don’t want to get stuck doing smogs all day. I noticed you don’t do smog inspections but your sign says you still do general repairs and diagnostics.”

I nod in smiling agreement. “I left the smog business behind when the smog machines became so costly I wasn’t sure if I’d live long enough to pay one off.”

Jill laughed.

“You may have to work somewhere for a few years doing all the smogs, Jill. You’ll hone your diagnostic skills on emissions, electrical, and drivability complaints. In a way, it’s drudgery but so are oil changes. Once you start solving drivability problems, the shop owner won’t waste you on the mundane repetitious stuff.”

“Do you still do oil changes?”

“Yep, but I own the shop.”

“If you change your mind, will you give me a call?”

“Sure, but it’s unlikely, Jill. I’m too much of a small timer. I hope you do get on somewhere. This business needs new people. Nice meeting you. Good luck.”

I shook hands with her again and she left with an amiable wave goodbye. I’m going home tonight and tell my wife I hired a new young female tech. That ought to be good entertainment. :)


Jordan Summers said...

Sounds like you were tempted. *g* I'm sure your wife is used to your 'teasing'. ;)

Stephen Parrish said...

What if she drew enough business in to cover her salary and benefits? I've never had a female mechanic work on my car. I'm not sure I've ever known a female mechanic, at least I can't remember any. Maybe you could use the novelty to your benefit.

raine said...

Bernard, that's a shame. She sounds great!
(and fabulous fodder for future stories, lol). ;)

BernardL said...

Was not. :) You're right, Jordan, my wife just laughed at me.

I'm sure she might have, Stephen, but I'm too far down the trail for expansion. I've known more than a few top notch female diagnostic techs. One who I took a Triple A seminar with a couple decades ago owns her own shop in Oakland. Writing and my little Comic and Used Book hobby shop are as much novelty as I care to have for now. :)

She has too much on the ball to end up working in my dungeon, Raine. It's one thing to own the Bat-cave and another to work in one. :)

Miladysa said...

Good job your wife has a sense of humour.

My husband would have to tell me from a distance - somewhere like Oakland should just be about safe ;D

BernardL said...

We've been together over three decades, Miladysa. It's very difficult to fool someone who can read your mind. :)

Vesper said...

I loved this story, Bernard! :-) Too bad you couldn't hire her... What a surreal feeling to meet someone who could've descended straight from one of your books. :-)

BernardL said...

It was a little weird, Vesper. I based Jill in the book on a female tech who spoke at a seminar I attended in the mid-eighties. My applicant reminded me of her a lot. As to hiring her, Stephen mentioned 'What if' in his comment above. I don't do 'What if's' anymore. :)