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Feb
17th
2018

The Man who Knows Everything · 2:50pm Feb 17th, 2018

My manager knows everything. This is what he says every morning:


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Yes, I know full well there's a problem with that quote


Those of you who have been poking around my blogs or stories for any length of time know that I'm not perfect. Heck, one person made a hobby for an entire year of correcting spelling errors in Silver Glow's Journal, and he found plenty. And you'll also realize that occasionally I mention a correction in a blog post, either in the form of a non-stealth edit, or in some cases, its own blog post.

You'll also be aware that I learn things all the time from y'all commenting on my stories, 'cause there's a lot to know, and a lot that I don't know.

This of course extends to my professional life as well. I attend one or two classes a month to learn about new automotive technologies, or new techniques for fixing cars, or even old techniques for fixing cars that not everybody knows.

I'm not afraid to say “I don't know,” and I say it a lot. That's usually followed by “I can find out.”

For example, recently I've taken to writing advertising messages on bottles of power steering fluid. We just used up the bottle of 'non-GMO' power steering fluid, so I labeled the next one 'Low Calorie.”


Do click this source link for a laugh

And then I said, “I wonder how many calories are in power steering fluid?”

Turns out that I wasn't able to google that (although I did find out that a cup of Tide laundry detergent is 92, so if you're on a strict diet, best to avoid the Tide Pod challenge*). If you know, tell me in the comments!

My manager, on the other hand, does know everything. He worked for a Cadillac dealership since approximately the founding of the company; before that he worked for an independent garage (I presume since there weren't any Cadillacs to work on yet).

While I'm no psychologist—not even a frontier psychiatrist—I have a theory that his self-identity is based on the belief that through his life his two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart. Combine that with an alpha-male personality, and you've got the formula for trouble.
____________________________________________________________
*also, if you're not on a strict diet, best to avoid the Tide Pod challenge.


He almost never can admit that he was wrong, or that he doesn't know something, at least if it seems to him like it should be something that he ought to know . . . or maybe that he thinks I think he should know. It's complicated.

But the problem is that sometimes I can't get a straight answer, and other times I get an outright lie.

For example, recently I was putting valve covers on a Saturn Outlook. That's not fun.

Once upon a time, GM looked upon the lowly Chevy Blazer and thought how can we improve this, and by improve we mean make it an abomination? Thus the Trailblazer was born, infamous for design choices like having to remove the grille to replace the power steering lines, and for having the front axle go through the oil pan . . . a vehicle where nothing comes off like it should. And there's also its pickup truck sibling, the Colorado, which proved once and for all that GM couldn't make a five-cylinder engine idle smoothly.

When they discontinued the Trailblazer, they apparently wanted to make sure that the replacement was just as fun to work on, so they came up with clever ideas like intake manifold bolts so long the proper way to remove them is remove the engine first.

Of course, we mechanics are a crafty bunch, and I figured out a way to get the intake manifold off, and more importantly, back on.

Unfortunately, when I was done fixing the valve cover gaskets, the rear one hemorrhaged oil (about a quart in five miles, which is high even for GM), and I had to take it apart again.

My manager wasn't as impressed with how I'd gotten the intake off as I was, so he suggested that I take out the front engine cradle bolts, which would allow the engine to rock forward some, and then they'd clear.

He's done lots of work on these engines before, so I assumed that that was a good idea.

I asked him how far the cradle would drop down, to which he said 'not very far.'

Well, it's a good thing that I'm generally cautious by nature (and have had the misfortune of once finding out just how far a Buick cradle could drop down when the real bolts were removed without first putting a jackstand under it).


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Had I just zipped those bolts out, the engine would have flopped forward far enough to go through the radiator.

Although I suppose at that point, it would have been easy to get at the intake manifold bolts. :derpytongue2:

I didn't ask, but I am curious if he's actually ever removed the front cradle bolts on one of these.


Also recently, I was putting a transfer case in a Tahoe. That's actually a fairly simple job; drop the transmission crossmember, struggle to get the nuts off the top, and then it comes out.

I also had to unbolt the flex fuel sensor from its bracket.


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Since I'm belatedly realizing that I just toss around lingo and y'all have no idea what I'm going on about, I'll tell you what that is—some vehicles built this century have the ability to run on either normal gasoline (up to 10% ethanol), or any mixture up to E85 (85% ethanol). Obviously, the vehicle needs to know what you just put into its tank, and the auto makers know that if there was some kind of knob the customer had to turn, it would never get used. In general, car owners are idiots when it comes to their car.

Some vehicles figure it out with software, like Chrysler. Others have a special fuel composition sensor, that 'sees' what's flowing through it and tells the computer.

[I should note that this is important, since the energy density of ethanol isn't the same as gasoline, and I think that the spark timing also needs to be adjusted for optimum performance.]

GM used a sensor.

I should also point out that while Ford was putting the little FFV leaf on their flex fuel models, GM never advertised that feature. They installed it because it gave them improved CAFE mileage, but unless people read the sticker on the fuel door (unlikely) or the fuel composition sensor failed, most customers didn't even know that they had a flex fuel vehicle.

Incidentally, that information was also in the owner's manual, but who reads those?


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Anyway, he came along while I was unbolting the transfer case, saw the fuel composition sensor hanging by its wires and the fuel lines, and said, “What is that?

“Ethanol sensor.”

“I've never seen one of those before.”

“Really?” I thought he was pulling my leg. But he wasn't.

“Must be one of those California emissions vehicles.” [California has its own emission standards, which are more stringent than the other 49 states, and a lot of times, said vehicles have other equipment on them. It's legal to sell a California vehicle anywhere, but you can't sell a non-California vehicle in California.]

“No, they put them on lots of trucks. My dad's S-10 had it.”*

“They can't have—you couldn't even buy ethanol in Michigan in 2003.”

“It didn't matter if you could buy it or not; GM got the CAFE mileage regardless of what people put in their tank.”

This conversation went on like this for a while.

What was frustrating is that it sort of took the tack of me pretending that this was a thing that GM did, because he apparently hadn't ever seen it before. More likely he'd just never noticed it, but how could he admit that with his 200 (approximately) years of GM experience?
_________________________________________________
*I was actually wrong about that; I looked it up later and found out that GM didn't put that on S-10s until a few model years after my dad's truck was built.


I've also mentioned before—like in the last mechanic blog post—that he has a habit of 'diagnosing' the vehicle sight unseen based on what he thinks the problem most likely is.

He's often right with GM vehicles, especially Cadillacs, but the one disadvantage to working at a dealership is that you don't get a lot of experience in other brands of cars.

So we had this 2006 or so Ford F150 come in for an occasional no-start. The customer said that he had tried to start it, and it would crank but not fire, and then his son got out and banged on the fuel tank, after which it started.

Now, in general, that indicates a bad fuel pump. What happens is that the brushes or armature (if it's a GM) wears out, and when the pump stops on a bad spot, it won't start spinning when electricity is applied. Banging on the tank jostles it, and it makes contact on a good spot, and then it works.

But this is a Ford F150, and they have a special component called a fuel pump driver module.


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Back in Ye Olden Times of electric fuel pumps, they were run full blast all the time. A rubber diaphragm on the engine controlled the fuel pressure, and any excess was routed back to the fuel tank, to be used again later.

These days, most cars have returnless systems, and the fuel pump itself sets the pressure, based on what the PCM tells it to do. [Remember this; it will be important later]

Ford adopted this idea early, realizing that you could control a motor with pulse-width modulation (remember that from last blog post?). While it seems like a bad idea to turn an electric motor on and off dozens of times per minute, it actually works pretty well, and Ford fuel pumps don't fail all that often.

Ford also decided that it wasn't fair to make the PCM do all this turning on and off work, so they put a dedicated module called the Fuel Pump Driver Module that does the job right in front (electrically) of the fuel pump.

On their cars and SUVs, it's usually a little plastic module located behind the rear seat. On the trucks, though, they put it outside, and since it was outside, they decided that it needed a robust case that could stand up to the weather.

So they made it out of aluminum.

And then they bolted it directly to a steel crossmember, forgetting that galvanic corrosion is a thing that exists. (GM learned that lesson back in the early 80s, when rear bumpers started falling off Oldsmobiles.)

This a long-winded way of saying that when a Ford F-150 comes in with the fuel pump not working reliably, my go-to is the Fuel Pump Driver Module.

They're not all that easy to see, being mounted above the spare tire. But you can get to them if you know what you're doing.

My manager had already sold a new fuel pump, and the truck almost certainly would have got that, except that he got lucky—this particular vehicle had put extra effort into making sure that the real failure was plain to see:

This is the first one I've seen that actually broke off the framerail and dangled by the wires. Usually, they quit before structural failure.


Lastly!

In his ever-continuing quest to always be right, he has been known to tell somebody that they're not seeing what they think they're seeing.

Now, I'm going to reiterate that I don't know everything about every vehicle that has ever been built, and anyone who says that they do is a liar. Part of my diagnostic procedure on nearly every vehicle is to go to Mitchell or Identifix and see how it's supposed to work.

One way to tell a returnless fuel system apart from a returning fuel system is count the fuel lines. If it only has one, it's returnless; if it has two, one is the supply line and one is the return line.

Before Ford got the clever idea to turn the fuel pump on and off a lot, they came up with the idea of putting the fuel pressure regulator in the fuel tank, right next to the fuel pump. I don't know how many vehicles they did this on, but I do know that they did this on a Ford Ranger I was working on. And this one legit did need a fuel pump; it also needed a fuel pressure regulator.


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Not the actual vehicle, but this one looks pretty cool, doesn't it? Especially with the matching trailer.

The fuel pressure regulator is only available as a part of the fuel pump sending unit, whereas the motor is available separately, and he decided to only sell the customer the fuel pump. He claimed that the sending unit was four days away (but he tends to only check one supplier; I bet that between NAPA, CarQuest, Ford, and Motown, he could have gotten one the next day). So I put it in, and I also had to repair a section of fuel line because somebody had mangled a coupler when they replaced the fuel filter.

That fixed the problem of it not starting, but it still took too long to start, because it bled off all its fuel pressure due to the bad sending unit.

So I again reminded him that it needed a sending unit because that was where the fuel pressure regulator was, and he told me I was wrong, and pointed to a regulator-looking thing on the fuel rail as 'proof' that it wasn't a returnless system.

You'd think that the guy who had just taken the fuel tank out would know how many fuel lines attached to that tank, but he didn't think so. I guess maybe he thought that I couldn't count to two.

So I asked him what he thought it sent the fuel back in, and he pointed to a vacuum line that went to the intake. :twilightangry2:

It was only when I printed out the fuel system parts diagram from Identifix that he believed that it was returnless.


tl;dr

Don't pretend that you know everything. If you don't, say it, and then find out.

Don't assume that you know more about the machine than the guy who's actually working on it.

Accept corrections with good grace.

“You learn something new every day” is a worthy life goal.


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Comments ( 37 )

That boy needs therapy!

He was white as a sheet, and he also made false teeth...

Edit: and coincidentally, I'm wearing my admiral biscuit shirt.

I read my owners manual for my cars as they usually have a chart that tells what the Dash lights mean plus other useful information. Unfortunately my new to me car didn't have one and the dealer I bought it from has yet to send me a replacement one like I requested.

4798717
No luck finding a pdf?

4798728

Nope. Which I find odd to say the least.

I mean, it wasn't much of a hobby.

This is my favorite type of manager (said no subordinate ever).

The company I worked at changed buildings once, and for some time we were still settling in, organizing rooms and what-have-you. The biggest downside was how much closer the room I worked in got to the main office space. A manager who was about two levels up now regularly made his way through the room and shared his opinions and knowledge (and vented his frustration at the same time – he also skipped every manager between us every time).

Perhaps my favorite instance is when we had been setting up a spot for testing machines. With only so much power, we could only test so many at once (it takes a bit of time), and we popped breakers occasionally in the old building because of it. Now we had more circuits with a little more juice in each of them, but his expectations were more than double ours. He asked me how much power they used, so I told him (we had measured it before). He decided that they used less power than that, walked to the whiteboard, and multiplied the circuits together so we knew how much power we had in total. After I reiterated how much power they used (and how much we had per circuit), he told me that circuits have a 25% safety margin, and that we could draw that much if we needed.

In the end, my more-direct manager had to go and explain why we weren't listening to him. Again.

Ohgods that horrible error in that quote picture you linked.... "when your perfect" :fluttershbad:

Two errors in that quote. Misspelled "you're". Also, if you're perfect you can't get better looking each day because you're already perfect.

This is the first one I've seen that actually broke off the framerail and dangled by the wires. Usually, they quit before structural failure.

Wow, that actually made me laugh! It made me think that wouldn't it be great if critical parts that failed just popped an easily-discovered indicator that they're done, like a turkey timer. :rainbowlaugh: Of course, looking at many of the images you've posted here, many of them already do that, but I was thinking of something a bit less... catastrophic.

Okay, despite the presence of Flash Sentry, that is a cute image.

Okay, so power steering fluid is basically distilled petroleum according to this.

Which according to this is maybe somewhere in the region of 44-48MJ/kg-1. I'm going to say 46, because I'm lazy. Because I'm lazy, I'm also going to say that the density of petroleum is about 820 kg/m-3.

So a cubic metre adds up to 37,720 megajoules. That bottle you linked was for a quart, which is 0.00113652 cubic metres according to Google. So that gives us about 42.8 megajoules in that quart. Which converts, according to Google, to 10,246 kcal.

So let's say that a quart of power steering fluid is about 10 megacalories. If you could digest it, it would be roughly the calorific requirement for an adult male for five days. Which you can't.

having the front axle go through the oil pan

That reminds me of my first car: an Acura Vigor. It had an inline-5 (the only one Honda ever made, I believe) mounted longitudinally, like a rear wheel drive car. The transmission's output was forward, next to the engine, to a differential that bolted to the side of the oil pan. The driver's side CV axle attached directly to the diff like normal, but on the passenger side there was a short axle that went through a tube through the oil pan, and the CV joint and axle attached to that.

It was a fantastic car. Fun to drive, and actually it's still in the family and still runs great with over 250k miles on it.

4798714

That boy needs therapy!
He was white as a sheet, and he also made false teeth...

I love that song so much.

Edit: and coincidentally, I'm wearing my admiral biscuit shirt.

Huzzah!

4798717

I read my owners manual for my cars as they usually have a chart that tells what the Dash lights mean plus other useful information. Unfortunately my new to me car didn't have one and the dealer I bought it from has yet to send me a replacement one like I requested.

If it's a recent model, there's usually a PDF available of the owner's manual (figure, last ten years or so). Before that, there are ways to order them sometimes--depends on how long the manufacturer keeps a stock on hand. Ebay is a possibility; another option that I've used before is checking the glove boxes of cars when I'm at a junkyard. A lot of times, you'll find one that's still got the manual with it.

It's a really handy book to have. I actually use them a fair bit at work, because a lot of times it's easier to check the owner's manual (assuming it's in the car) rather than get out and go to the computer up front and try to figure out what I need to know from there.

4798782

I mean, it wasn't much of a hobby.

:rainbowlaugh:

4798795

Ohgods that horrible error in that quote picture you linked.... "when your perfect":fluttershbad:

The worst part? It was actually not hard at all to find that quote with the error.

4798852

Also, if you're perfect you can't get better looking each day because you're already perfect.

Sure you can. It's like a perpetual motion machine . . . it just keeps going faster and faster and faster. . . .

4798905

Wow, that actually made me laugh! It made me think that wouldn't it be great if critical parts that failed just popped an easily-discovered indicator that they'redone, like a turkey timer.:rainbowlaugh: Of course, looking at many of the images you've posted here, many of them already do that, but I was thinking of something a bit less...catastrophic.

I was going to say . . . a lot of times, they do fail in an easily-discovered way, at least if you've got experience. Electronic problems are the worst when it comes to that, though. I've got one case study that I ought to put in a blog about a really weird, hard-to-discover wiring problem on a Sprinter van. There were a few false leads on that one before I finally tracked down the actual cause of the problem.

Okay, despite the presence of Flash Sentry, that is a cute image.

Isn't it great! There are lots more like it.
pre00.deviantart.net/2e92/th/pre/f/2017/045/c/3/no__no__nonono__by_dm29-dayikxa.png

4798925

So let's say that a quart of power steering fluid is about 10 megacalories. If you could digest it, it would be roughly the calorific requirement for an adult male for five days. Which you can't.

Huzzah!

I knew someone would be smart enough to calculate it out.

So I guess it's not really a low calorie food at all.

4799104

That reminds me of my first car: an Acura Vigor. It had an inline-5 (the only one Honda ever made, I believe) mounted longitudinally, like a rear wheel drive car. The transmission's output was forward, next to the engine, to a differential that bolted to the side of the oil pan. The driver's side CV axle attached directly to the diff like normal, but on the passenger side there was a short axle that went through a tube through the oil pan, and the CV joint and axle attached to that.

I've never seen one of those, but Eric the Car Guy (on YouTube) has one.

That's actually not that unusual a design for a FWD car with a longitudinally mounted engine, since unless you have a huge front overhang, you've got to run one of the front axles through the engine somehow. It was really odd on the Trailblazer, though, since that was a RWD/4WD truck, and I'm not aware of any other truck that used that design.

It was a fantastic car. Fun to drive, and actually it's still in the family and still runs great with over 250k miles on it.

Here in Michigan, older Japanese cars suffered badly from rust, and nearly everything more than 20 years old is gone due to catastrophic rust. I always figured that either the Japanese couldn't figure out how to rust-proof a car, or else they didn't understand how we'd deliberately put something on the roads that made the cars corrode. Mechanically, though, most Japanese cars are very reliable as long as you do the maintenance the manual tells you to do.

Except Nissans. Those things are a mechanical horrorshow.

4799289 I've read from you and from others (and seen a few cases) that wiring issues can be the worst. I wouldn't mind seeing you post that when you have a chance.

And yeah I love dm29's work. Looks like Shiny's about to lose his BF status in BBBFF, but probably only for a few seconds. ;)

This one always makes me laugh:
orig00.deviantart.net/1cff/f/2016/048/9/2/struck_by_cupid_by_dm29-d9rykhg.png

4799291

So I guess it's not really a low calorie food at all.

But what's the serving size? If cooking spray made out of canola oil can be "fat-free" (checking the fat content of the top included oils on google suggest there's 200+ grams of fat in that container), clearly the answer is to subdivide the container with small enough servings that you're allowed to claim that it has low or zero calories (per serving, but I don't think you have to advertise that).

he told me I was wrong, and pointed to a regulator-looking thing on the fuel rail

#damper

Don't assume that you know more about the machine than the guy who's actually working on it.

Jesus, YES. I need to print that on a giant banner and hang it in my office for all my customers to read.

This annoying guy with a 70s afro came in once, a while ago. Says he wants me to check his abs light. I do, which wasn't easy, because it was a pre-obd2 gm, I tell him he needs a pump. He says no, it needs a sensor. I'm just like... :ajbemused: wtf dude, why did you ask me to check it if you're so smart?

Anyhow, speaking of fuel pumps, you know what happened to me yesterday? One of our customers is a church (that's more like a hippie commune minus the hippies), so they bring in their handicapped van (that they just bought used, after about 5 years of me telling them that their current one was a deathtrap [to their credit, the new one is a pretty nice 05 Pontiac van]) and they say the power sliding door + automatic wheelchair ramp + kneeling system doesn't work 100% of the time. I have the van in the shop to push the button and see if I can get it to not work. I decide to run the engine to not kill the battery. I start the engine, push the door button, and the engine just put-puts and dies like it ran out of gas.

After like 10 minutes I figure out it blew the fuel pump fuse. Pump was shorted. FML. How am I supposed to explain that?

Don't assume that you know more about the machine than the guy who's actually working on it.

Well...

What if the same problem is back again... *checks the invoice* ...37 days after it was fixed?

(Okay, I have no idea what is actually wrong, so it's safe to assume that the mechanic knows more than me.)

4799274
You did that in purpose? You bastard :rainbowlaugh:

Heck, one person made a hobby for an entire year of correcting spelling errors inSilver Glow's Journal, and he foundplenty.

That reminds me, I really need to continue that, and add some more corrections to that :rainbowwild:

At the very least, reading about your manage make me feel better about myself. Ok, I too tend to not admit to being wrong; being a perfectionist, sometime I also have trouble accepting it, but hey! Compared with him, I realise I really am not that bad. That a relief.

Also I admire (apparent) your capacity at keeping calm when dealing with your manager.

4799436

But what's the serving size?If cooking spray made out of canola oil can be "fat-free"(checking the fat content of the top included oils on google suggest there's 200+ grams of fat in that container), clearly the answer is to subdivide the container with small enough servings that you're allowed to claim that it has low or zero calories (per serving, but I don't think you have to advertise that).

Fair point . . . I think that there are certain exceptions allowed on US food labeling (for example, you can say 0 calories if it's got 5 or fewer/serving, IIRC). As for the serving size, I think there are standards for that, as well, so you can't get away with saying a frozen pizza has 10,000 servings, for example. Cooking spray is supposed to be used in short bursts to line a pan, not sprayed into a cup and drunk.

4799352

I've read from you and from others (and seen a few cases) that wiring issues can be theworst. I wouldn't mind seeing you post that when you have a chance.

It was a weird one. But of course those are the funnest to look back on in hindsight.

And yeah I lovedm29's work. Looks like Shiny's about to lose his BF status in BBBFF, but probably only for a few seconds. ;)

My favorites are the Flashlight ones, just 'cause they annoy a lot of people.

This one always makes me laugh:

I love that one. I ought to have put it up for Valentine's Day.

4799472

#damper

That's kinda what I figured. But then, I thought, it's Ford, so it could be a second fuel pressure regulator that just doesn't do anything, or pops off if the one in the tank goes stupid.

Jesus, YES. I need to print that on a giant banner and hang it in my office for all my customers to read.

You should!

Granted, there are exceptions; one of our customers works at Ford designing ignition systems, and I bet she knows way more about the ignition system on her Econoline than I do . . . but as a general rule, it usually holds true.

This annoying guy with a 70s afro came in once, a while ago. Says he wants me to check his abs light. I do, which wasn't easy, because it was a pre-obd2 gm, I tell him he needs a pump. He says no, it needs a sensor. I'm just like...:ajbemused:wtf dude, why did you ask me to check it if you're so smart?

I had some customer start to tell me that one time (she wanted a price, 'cause she'd gotten it "diagnosed" at AutoZone), so I just started asking specific questions which she of course couldn't answer. "Which engine, ma'am? Is it federal or California emissions?" She finally agreed to bring it in and have it properly diagnosed.

And then she didn't bring it in at all.

After like 10 minutes I figure out it blew the fuel pump fuse. Pump was shorted. FML. How am I supposed to explain that?

I had a fairly new GM SUV that I put a mirror on at the dealership. Had to drive it in circles to calibrate the compass . . . on my second circle, the power steering pump failed.

Never mind the customer on that one; I had to explain it to my service manager.

4799485

Well...
What if the same problem is back again... *checks the invoice* ...37 days after it was fixed?
(Okay, I have no idea what is actually wrong, so it's safe to assume that the mechanic knows more than me.)

Could be a coincidence, could be they diagnosed/repaired it wrong, could be the new part (if any) failed [which sadly happens more often than it should].

Just hope it doesn't turn out like that white F-250 with the bad brakes. Nobody was happy with how that one turned out.

4799680

You did that in purpose? You bastard:rainbowlaugh:

Your darn right I did. :derpytongue2:

That reminds me, I really need to continue that, and add some more corrections to that

You should!

4800094

At the very least, reading about your manage make me feel better about myself. Ok, I too tend to not admit to being wrong; being a perfectionist, sometime I also have trouble accepting it, but hey! Compared with him, I realise I really am not that bad. That a relief.

Being wrong's hard to admit sometimes. It's one thing I'm glad I figured out here on Fimfic, or else I might have turned into one of those insufferable pr:yay:ks that thought I'd written the best stories and nobody else was sophisticated enough to understand them. As for cars, it was always easier for me, because what reasonable person can really be expected to have memorized every little thing about every one of the literally hundreds of different makes and models?

Also I admire (apparent) your capacity at keeping calm when dealing with your manager.

Sometimes while he's talking, I'm already composing a blog post in my head. :rainbowlaugh:

Everytime I hear someone make such a dumbass claim, I want to slap them silly

4815991
Yeah . . .

He did it again today. Working on power windows on a late-model Dodge Ram, and I looked down in the door and saw that instead of the usual two wires that the window motor has, there were five or six. I said I'd need a wiring diagram, and he looked at the switch and started to explain to me how I didn't need to worry about those wires, and when he was done explaining how a switch works, I pointed down inside the door.

Sigh.

4821397

Heh

Reminds me of the dumbasses I had to deal with while the credit system was down for a few hours at work today

4821447
That's why I'm glad that I don't have to deal with customers much. I have to deal with him, which is annoying, but it's at least a known annoyance.

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