Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tale from the Radiator Underworld

I found one of my very first jobs the way most of us probably did - by hanging around listening to the 'Top Gun' album in my room and hoping Mom wouldn’t come hounding me to find a job.

"A job is not just going to come to you. You need to get out there.”

But my perseverance paid off when my next-door neighbor came to the house looking to hire my brother to deliver car parts for their small company one summer. Bro was firmly entrenched in the computer world at that point, but I was there, hands waving and yelling, “Pick ME! ME! ME! ” I suppose a chick wasn’t their first choice, but my dedication to organizing headlights and PCV valves convinced them and it turned into a four-summer occupation.

It was the BEST JOB EVER.

My uniform – shorts and a t-shirt.

I drove pick-up trucks around all day with the tannest arm in town hanging out the window blasting “Kokomo”. I was Master of the One Way Street and Back Alleys. It was complete and utter freedom (in between stopping at GoodYear and Acura).

On the downside, I had sketchy old men calling me 'Skeeter', 'Honey Chil' and 'Hey Good Lookin’. These were not the accolades you might think as there’s little competition when you’re picking up brake pads. And you have a streak of 10w30 running across your forehead.

Aside from some of the usual creepies, my only beef with the job was delivering to a certain radiator shop. You’ve most likely never been to one, but they stink. Like a punch to the gut. The pic below is the best I could find of what goes down in one of these places.

The guys at this particular shop were of the I-see-my-probation-officer-on-Tuesday's variety. The “office” was wood paneled with a tiny AC unit blasting away, flipping the pages of a nudie Snap-On Tools calendar from four years ago. The desk, broken Laz-E-Boy and assorted chairs were all covered in grease and radiator gunk. It was small, dank and dismal, reeking of radiator shop. Waiting for them to cut me a check was the longest 10 minutes of my life.

Earl: How much is that bill fer?

Me: $81.50

Earl: RAY JUNIOR! WHERE’D YOU PUT THAT CHECK BOOK, BOY? You gotta boyfriend baby?

Me: Yes. (not really)

Earl: You wanna ‘nother one?

Me: (silence)


Ray Jr: (enters with a fresh blast of radiator shop) Hey baby…you gotta boyfriend?

Me: (please find the check book, please find the check book) Sorry, already taken. (not really)

Ray Jr: (digs checkbook out of dented, Bondo-colored filing cabinet covered with faded NASCAR decals) Earl, yer such a dumbass. (Throws checkbook at Earl’s head.)

Earl: (starts writing check) Yer lookin’ pretty good – I could take you out some time. (hands me check covered in oily fingerprints)

Me: (accepts check as if it was plague) Uh huh. Ummm… thanks guys. (Please don’t gang rape me.) See ya.

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Cassie said...

Oh creepy!!

that girl from shallotte said...

OMG, I used to have to take my daddy's pickup to tire dealerships in Myrtle Beach to pick up orders for his tire shop! "Your daddy better keep an eye on you, Little Darlin', or I will."

I am sooooo homesick right now! Awesome.

Mike said...

Ha! That is the kind of treatment that I, as a man, rarely have to endure. Funny stuff!

Cocotte said...

Nowadays, that would be grounds for an on-the-job sexual harassment lawsuit. Oh, the good ole days.......

Alice said...

Cassie - Oh yeah.

That Girl - Oooo classic line. I always got the " You don't need to watch yer figure, I'll do if for ya."

Mike - Lucky. Grrr...

Cocotte - Down there, it was about the status quo. *sigh*

Janet said...

ROFLMAO! Sounds like the biker dudes I knew in high school ;-)

Good N Crazy said...

FU-nny. The two pictures of the goo next to the titty babe are killing me.

Best summer job....? Taco Time? Yeah. Yours was better.

Formerly Fun said...

Well write, And don't worry about your review, a. good content b. blog design not 1 of 7 standard templates and ugly pepto pink c.i submitted like 2 months ago so it takes awhile. Plus the worse your review, the more people check it out:)

Nanny Goats In Panties said...

Eww, eww, and eww!

...and yet you still take the moniker of Honey Pie!

This was fantastically funny.

Bobbi said...

Hey, I been there and done that! My dad is a body man - he has worked on car and truck bodies all his life. Being the oldest child, I spent a lot of time in the body shop. Unfortunately, all the dirty old men in town also hung out at the body shop. I grew up with all the "Sweet'ums" and "Sugar lumps" I could stand!

Alice said...

Janet - I need to see a pic of you in high school for sure.

G-n-C - LOL..just the name 'Taco Time' makes me laugh.

FormerlyFun - Thanks. And I like your pepto pink.

Nanny Goats - I know, I know...but I use Honey Pie ALL the time.

Bobbi - It gets old really fast. And then they use the same line over and over. Jeez.

gizmorox said...

Hey wait! "Kokomo" was on the Cocktail soundtrack, not Top Gun. :)

Katie said...

So funny!

Fun to stumble here... :)

Kelly said...

omg thats funny...I bet they were pretty stinky too.

Stephanie M said...

That sounds like such a great job - why didn't I think outside the fast food box in hs???? I've never been to a radiator shop but that green stuff looks NASTY!

MamaGeek said...

Oh this was hilarious. I worked at K-Mart running the blue light. OY! OY! OY! Yet yours topped mine for sure! :)

The Hypocritical One said...

Wow...I think I knew Earl and Ray Jr. when I lived in Houston.

I hope you were payed well.

for a different kind of girl said...

A couple summers ago, I agreed to help a friend who runs a gumball machine business on the side by going around to various places and refilling the gumball and candy machines and gathering up the money. Sounds easy (and sweet), right?

No. It is not. It sucked! The machines are hard to get into, the money would always spill. It was nasty. What also made it nasty is that the routes he gave me were littered with garages, factories, car dealerships. Most any place loaded with men in various stages of glory. Most often they'd all be gathered in the break rooms where I had to work, and they'd either be silent and staring, or staring and not silent.

Long story short, I totally feel your pain!

Hey It's Di said...

Thank heavens for those good ole' jobs as youngsters that helped us build character. Either that, or it freaked us out so much that we are in denial.

Gotta love the smell of a sexy mechanic named Earl no doubt:P

The Girl Next Door said...

Oh hell, I love all the Tom Cruise Soundtracks, even if he is a bit out there. And I "Randomed" you so check out my blog for your name! I do love your comments on my blog and love your posts.

Kylie in Warsaw said...

My dad used to take me around to old dumpy car repair places and I remember the ones you speak of. To this day, I will not go in for repairs on my car unless I ABSOLUTELY have to, and then I take it to a dealer. I WILL NOT walk in the door of one of those grimy places.

Those places still terrify me to the pit of my soul.

Trooper Thorn said...

Glad you survived. Guys like that are mostly just a lot of talk, due to the vapors from the coolants eroding their hypothalamus. The coveralls are worm more to soak up drool than to protect their Iron Maiden T-shirts from grease.

Thanks for your comments on mom insulting text messages.

Alice said...

Gizmo - Oh don't I know it!

Katie - Thanks for swinging by! I'm coming to check you out soon.

Kelly - Oh yes. Nasty & stinky.

Stephanie - Don't worry, I had my stint in fast food too. Bleh.

MamaGeek - You rule! Imagine the power of running the blue light special. Wow.

The Hypocritical One - I think Earl & Ray Jr. exist everywhere. They're like Everyman, but grosser.

FADKOG - ROFL. No. I feel YOUR pain. I'm just picturing you trying to get change out and gum in. Post! Post!

Di - Yeah. I got me plenty o' character now. ; )

Alice said...

Girl Next Door - Thanks so much! I love your blog too.

Kylie - LOL. I probably came up with this post because my car is in the shop right now. But the guy who runs the place I take it is FREAKIN' FINE. I don't even mind when he's got grease on him. Damn he's hot.

Trooper Thorn - We thank you for your insight. And how would you know all this?...unless you were really RAY JR!!!!

Mary Witzl said...

This cracked me up! What an adventurous spirit you had, though, and I am filled with admiration. I wonder if my kids could cope...

One of my first jobs was helping my father and his boss deseed peppers, sterilize soil, and plant seedlings. One of the places I had to visit was nasty old Headhouse 6 with a big vat covered with a skull and crossbones. In the building across from this there were reputedly pesticides so lethal you could die from merely touching them.

Outnumbered2to1 said...

Man, I worked with those guys but not at a radiator shop. This old polack with no teeth and twenty-five years on me was convinced he was my prince charming. My answer? I shopped my hair off. I know, I was young. I followed that up with quitting a week later. I never realized I could actually sue and never have to work again.

Anonymous said...

Great post, but I've got to go back to the Pokeball room. I've been looking at that smaller picture on the walls for a couple of days, and I've finally figured it out. It's the sheepdog holding the coyote over a cliff, isn't it? BTW, have you shown people the amazing cartoon murals you did in Peace Corps?

Anonymous said...

Great post, but I've got to go back to the Pokeball room. I've been looking at that smaller picture on the walls for a couple of days, and I've finally figured it out. It's the sheepdog holding the coyote over a cliff, isn't it? BTW, have you shown people the amazing cartoon murals you did in Peace Corps?

Sparkliesunshine said...

YES! I live in a town where many of the inhabitants display this same sort of behavior. Uck! I try to avoid them at all costs. (except when they come into my office and I have to deal with them.) I feel for you.

Anonymous said...

I love how Ray Jr. come in and asks the same darned question.

Our gender just ain't very smart sometimes. ;)

Queen Goob said...

Reminds me of the time I was tracking my bulldog that was stolen out of my yard; the third place I hit the guy told me my dog sucked as a watchdog so he gave it to some friends. I was told go to a bike shop and ask for Snake and Crotch.

Showing up in a hot pink Camaro was one of the bravest things I've ever done.

Jenn Thorson said...

Ah, I know just those guys! Ray Jr. once drove by in his pickup asking my best friend and I, "Hey, yinz guys sisters?"

My friend is short and blond. I am gigantic tall and a red-head.

Yes, Ray, Jr., we're sisters. And we LOVE guys in CAT hats and pick-ups that ask us about it.


Loved your story-- very well-written!

Robyn said...

I think I'm related to those guys.

I hated delivering pizza- I'd wind up handing munchies to stoners who'd say, "Hey, babe. What's your hurry?"

Bryan said...

Cooter would never let Earl and Ray Jr talk like that. Of course if it weren't for those stinkin' cousins, Bo & Luke Duke, he'd be stuffing Daisy.

Wow that really doesnt make any sense but I already went through the trouble of typing it.

Bex said...

OK. First of all funny post! I could smell the radiator shop all the way down here!

Second of all, how is that you have 34 people comment on this blog which is definitely at the top of the humor scale, yet only a couple voted for you at Humor-Blogs? Don't they know that it's the best way to spread the bloggy word about how much fun we all have here at Honey Pie???

In fact, I was so outraged on your behalf I went there and voted for everyone of your posts until I got kicked off with the notice, "Ok. We get it. You like Honey Pie. Why don't you go vote for someone else now??" So you should see a bit of a surge in your numbers.

But everyone should vote for you!!! Come on in, folks, the water is FINE!"

Jeff said...

You mean to tell me those guys didn't have girlfriends already? What are the odds?

Camille said...

Oh, that's too funny. One of my various jobs included delivering food for Jason's Deli. I, however, did NOT enjoy it. But then again, my wages were based on tips and I'm not that good looking, so I was poor all the time.

MereCat said...

ewwwwww! I was pursued by a guy named "Chunk" once. I thought that was pretty bad. Radiator shop boys... wowza. You are a brave girl. Sounds like you had a lot of fun otherwise, though.

Alice said...

Mary - Have you written a post on that job? If not, you need to! I'd really like to read about that.

2to1 - Cutting your hair off is NEVER the answer. A knee to the nuts is.

N - Yay! I was seeing if anyone would notice the pic. I'll send a prize shortly. ; )

Sparklie - Offices where you are forced to be nice suck.

Unfinished - Seriously, it was like a broken record with those guys.

Q.Goob - Good grief. Where are you hanging out sistah? I feel a post on that.

Robyn - Hmmm..that's tough. Stoners vs. Redneck Mechanics.

Jenn - Thanks! And what would it take to come up with an original line or at least just ask for a phone number in a normal non-cheesy manner.

Alice said...

Bryan - Welcome. I think. ; )

Bex - You automatically win a prize when I finally get my new look. I'm saving a bottle of Anti-Monkey Butt Powder just for you! And thank you!

Jeff - I'm sure they had skanky girls at home, but that doesn't really mean anything now does it?

Camille - Aww..hon. If you want not-good-looking you should have seen me in my Arby's uniform.

Merecat - If your nickname is 'Chunk' you automatically don't make the cut.

Rickey Henderson said...

Rickey wonders: wince when is calling a female 'skeeter' is a come on? Was it ever?

coffespaz said...

OMG...that brings back memories! Glad you popped by...bad timing that my most recent post was connected to something sad. Its not usually like that! :-( Hope to see you again...I'll be popping by again too if you don't mind the company!

Holy Crappers said...

Is that you sitting there looking all like daisy duke? LOL


Bee said...

When I worked in the fast food business, we got so many pervs checking us out and the worse part was that we were barely legal and they were all OLD. And by old I mean the age that I am right now. ::sigh::

Diesel said...

You should have told them that you used to be a man.

Great post.

Half-Past Kissin' Time said...

Ewwwww. Sounds like you deserved Combat Pay for those stops!

LceeL said...

I could SWEAR I left a comment here this morning. It had to do with how HAWT you were then and how much HAWTTER you are now. But it ain't here. Haunted?

Chat Blanc (aka Sandy) said...

too funny!! reminds me of the farm guys that used to come in the convenience store where I worked summers. They were stinky, dirty and just HAD to chat me up and make me uncomfortable! Glad you survived the radiator shop! :)

JD at I Do Things said...


That does sound like a pretty awesome gig, except for the would-be rapists, of course.

So your mom was wrong. A job did "come to you."


JD at I Do Things

Jonny's Mommy said...

This sounds like a car parts place I used to go to with my dad. Man that place was creepy and gross. I loved when the guy would say "there's a junk yard out there. find what you need and bring it back to pay."


Yeah, it did go kind of like that. Sometimes a guy would get on an ATV and ride over the hillside littered with old cars and pull that spare part you needed off some old Chevy in "aisle 5".

That is an awesome first job!

Alice Wills Gold said...

Oh my heck..i am cracking up...can so picutre it...Great writing here.

Did you grow up in the south or was this radiator shop in some small hick town?

So funny.

What a great job! And, I bet the reason you thought of it was when your car broke down and your old job allowed you to talk the talk with the mechanic...man, every girl needs a job like this.

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