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I am a mechanic at Walls Garage in Greenwood, Mississippi. I have been working there since 1982. I fix a variety of cars, motorcycles, and small motor vehicles. We handle all kinds of problems from basic preventative maintenance to massive automotive repair.
The most common misunderstanding about what we do is that all mechanics have encyclopedic knowledge of every car ever made. In reality, we own manuals for different makes and models of cars that help us navigate tricky repairs.
For something relatively routine, like an oil change, we do not need to use the manuals very often. For something more complicated, like re-installing airbags, we routinely get out the manuals to make sure we are doing the work according to manufacturer specifications.
I would rate my job as an eight. As a kid I loved working on cars, and today I get to do it full-time. I wish I had more control over my work hours – especially not having to work on Saturdays – but I enjoy my job a lot.
I immediately started working as a mechanic after graduation. Some people go to a vocational or technology school to learn about automotive repair once they graduate from high school, but I went straight into fixing cars because I already knew a lot about them.
I knew the owner of the garage, so it wasn’t a problem to get a job there after graduation. I gradually got more hours as I worked longer and proved my skills. If I could go back, I might have gotten a certification in diesel repair – working on big trucks earns more money than regular cars.
One time I installed a transmission backwards on a foreign car and it completely destroyed the drive train. It was an expensive repair and required an extra two weeks to fix. I was pretty embarrassed that day.
I once had someone offer to pay for repairs in cookies and pies! She was a very sweet older woman who lived on a fixed income. She needed a relatively minor repair, so we donated the labor for free. It really helped her out in a tight spot.
I enjoy working with my hands and helping people keep their cars in excellent condition. I feel good when I solve difficult problems with cars, like finding something wrong that other mechanics had overlooked.
Customers can be extremely demanding sometimes. We occasionally have people bring in cars for service then insist we broke something in the car during repairs. They are usually just trying to scare us into providing free service.
My job is not very stressful. We take our time and try to do a good job on every repair. I maintain a healthy work-life balance.
I make about $63,000 per year. I think I am paid enough, and I feel so thankful to have that salary without a college degree.
Be prepared to work few hours at a garage when you first start. My first few years of work were a steep learning curve, and only after I proved myself did I start getting better hours.
I would like to buy the garage and run it myself. I haven’t done it yet because the machinery and parts are so expensive, but I would love to own my own business.
Mechanic working image from Stockvault