Opinion: A Mechanic by Any Other Name – UnderhoodService

Opinion: A Mechanic by Any Other Name

In the debate of mechanic versus technician, I really don’t think that what we call ourselves makes all that much of a difference.

an’t divide two numbers and look at a trig table to find the angle of a rafter, or calculate the torque of an engine using the angle of the crank journal, or understand why the 3-4-5 method of knowing something is square, then calling ourselves technicians isn’t going to do anything for our self-esteem. People only equate “mechanic” to “low-class” because to them “low-class” = “ignorant”. Read your history.

Solving complex problems, working on sophisticated machinery, and keeping America running has always been the job of “C” students. This isn’t because we’re too stupid to be “A” students, but rather because our teachers can’t cut rafters, calculate torque or build a deck any better then we can. They teach in ways that makes sense to them, but not to us.

They understand how to start a car, but not how to fix it. They can cook hamburgers on their decks, but not build the forms, pour the columns, or cut the beams and make certain they’re square.

Chemistry teachers don’t tell us that the word “plumber” comes from the Latin “plumbum”, which is the name for lead (“Pb” on the battery?). Science teachers can tell us about force and energy and mechanical advantage, but they don’t understand valve timing, own torque wrenches or blueprint engines.

And English teachers can talk about Shakespeare all day long but never understand that he chose the technologies of “slings and arrows” for Hamlet because they’re the only weapons from that day that kill anonymously from a distance. (Ask them…)

Oddly, Shakespeare is a great way to end this commentary. This is from "Romeo and Juliet," from about 1600:

‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;

Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.

What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,

Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part

Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.

Change “Montague” to “mechanic” and reread it. We really need  to understand — AND teach our students — that what other people call us will never be important. It’s what we believe about ourselves that truly matters. I believe that I’m an intelligent person doing an important job, in the best nation on the planet, that offers unlimited opportunity. The mechanic's watch: My dad gave me this (with tears) when I graduated from A&P school in 1983... It was his father's.

What I make of myself depends upon my attitude, my beliefs, and effort, and I refuse to live down to other peoples’ expectations. I’m no smarter than anyone else, or more deserving — but maybe I am just a little more arrogant…

If being a mechanic was good enough for my grandfather, then it’s good enough for me. And if you choose to see this as “old school”, so be it.

Maybe if we spent more time in the old school than playing job-title-roulette out behind the gym, this would be less of a problem, or dilemma, or conundrum, or annoyance, or hindrance, or joke.



Dan Sullivan is electrical instructor and owner of Sullivan Training Systems. For more information, visit: www.brighterideas.com or e-mail Dan at: [email protected].

You May Also Like

EV Charging

Charging will get better as technology improves and drivers change their behaviors.

I once worked with a technician you might call considerate. When he used a piece of equipment, he would ensure everything was clean and properly put away. For example, we had a five-gas analyzer used for state emissions testing. After every time he used the machine, the hose for the tailpipe probe was neatly coiled and hung on the machine. When he used the machine, the hose was laid on the ground and not dragged across the shop’s floor. He also was the guy who would dispose of the filters left in the oil drain by other technicians.

ECM Damage

Engineers have devised two strategies that can be called the “immune system” for the electrical system.

Voltage Drop Testing

The measurement of voltage is like the speed of the traffic.

Spark Plug Fouling

Understanding why spark plugs get dirty.

Understanding Stop/Start Charging and Starting Systems

The problem may not have been caused by a complicated reason, something simple may have caused the system not to work.

Other Posts

Power Window Regulator and Motor Service

Power windows are great as long as they roll up and down when commanded to do so.

Alternator Testing For No Charge Conditions

Many alternator problems turn out to be nothing more than a bad connection at the alternator or a bad wiring harness.

Battery Management Means Knowing How It Ages

The battery may be fully charged, but you also need to measure how low the voltages go while the engine is cranking.

EV Opportunities

You are gaining and retaining many service opportunities with Evs.