Auto Service World
Feature   August 1, 2009   by Jim Anderton,, Technical Editor

You Work With Idiots

If there's one fundamental truth that surfaces after thirty years in the Canadian workforce it's this: Everybody works with idiots. The fact that everybody works with idiots makes idiot-spotting ridic...

If there’s one fundamental truth that surfaces after thirty years in the Canadian workforce it’s this: Everybody works with idiots. The fact that everybody works with idiots makes idiot-spotting ridiculously easy…and idiot removal extremely difficult. By working with my share over the years and after careful study of the Idiot Problem, I’ve developed the following classification system to let you better understand the exact type of idiots you work with.

The Cliff Claven Idiot

Like the character in “Cheers,” this guy knows everything about everything, all the time. This would be fine if any of that extensive knowledge was useful, but instead it’s an endless spew of trivia about anything except the problem you have right now. If you can’t trace that intermittent short or fix your short game, look elsewhere. If you need to know who played the Professor on Gilligan’s Island, he’s your guy.

The Royalty Idiot

This guy is in many ways the opposite of the Cliff Claven idiot….he knows something, but won’t tell anybody. He will, however, let everyone in the shop know that he knows the answer, then behave like the shop Ayatollah to prove his point. These idiots will never give you a straight answer to your question. They’ll lead you along by making you tease out every word of the solution before saying, “Yeah, it’s the MAP sensor. Had one just like it last week.”

The Angry Idiot

This one is priceless, because he can ruin your day and poison the shop environment before the first coffee break. You can spot him by the constant look of barely controlled rage and the stream of abuse aimed at the industry, the shop, the government, management and the Chrysler on the hoist. Swearing without the good nature is a clue and in extreme cases he’ll throw tools or slam drawers. Don’t confuse him with the Conspiracy Theory Idiot. He’s mad, but the reasons are a little closer to the edge….look for the use of the term “The System.”

The Absent-Minded Idiot

The Absent -Minded Idiot is less immediately annoying than the other types, but ultimately he’s more frustrating. His technique is to keep his head so far up that he forgets everything from his bag lunch to the oil pan drain plug. A side effect of this behaviour is the ability to bang his head or smash his fingers with a regularity that makes keeping the first aid kit stocked a daily checklist item. These guys are often quite smart…it’s just that they’re thinking about whether the Canucks made a mistake with Sundin instead of the Sanden A/C compressor they drop on their toes.

The True Idiot

These are extremely rare. True Idiots genuinely can’t do anything right; but truth be told, I’ve never seen one. The reason they’re rare is that they usually have a little of the Dustin Hoffman character in the movie Rain Man; there’s something at which they’re brilliant. Too bad it has nothing to do with fixing cars and trucks. I once worked with a guy who couldn’t tighten a bolt without breaking it or stripping threads. We called him “Stone Hands,” but he did have an incredible talent for seducing women, making his Monday morning performance, in the bays at least, less than outstanding. He couldn’t fix anything, but on the other hand he might have been the smartest guy in the shop.

By now, you know who fits where in your shop…and if you’re really good, you know where you fit in the above classification. I’m also not leaving out women here…they have the same ability to be idiots, but they’re nicer to be around. I’m a little of several types, except the part about seducing women….hey, you can’t be good at everything.

Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know!

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