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History Memories of being a parts counterman

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by 23tub, Apr 14, 2014.

  1. toms tudor
    Joined: Feb 14, 2007
    Posts: 11

    toms tudor
    Member

    Back in the late 80's I worked for Parts plus and Had all kinds of strange people in. A few that will never forget. For those of you that did this job remember the Mechanic would call and mess with you in some voice saying they just bought a oil filter and the motor blew, ect. One day I got a call from a man with a very thick oriental accect saying he needed a crutch, so playing along I asked what kind of car does the "crutch" fit. He replies "a porch" trying not to crack,I ask what model "porch" He says "red"! after 5 or so trying to find out what model I tell him he needs to bring the car over of find out what numbers are on the back of the car. I hang up the phone and call the garage I think is messing with me, and surer than shit a red 928 rolls up in front of the store and a little Asian man comes walking through the door! I also had a guy come in say he needed a witch way switch for a pu-go-not and was dead serious!
     
  2. 23tub
    Joined: Jun 8, 2013
    Posts: 91

    23tub
    Member

    Language problems are always worth a chuckle - as long as we don't take ourselves too seriously. Having spent a lot of time overseas, I can sympathize with non-native speakers. That being said, my wife who is a China native laughs harder than I at some of the translations on signs in China translated from Chinese to English. We need to be able to laugh at ourselves and not immediately take offense at every little thing. We've all said or done something at some point that someone else thought was laughable. Personally, I'm glad that in whatever way, I was able to make someone laugh. :)
     
  3. 1971BB427, I know what you mean! When the kid at the parts counter asks what car and year, and I tell him a 1930 FORD MODEL A, he looks like he just got hit in the head with a BAT!!! Good times!:D:D
     
  4. traffic61
    Joined: Jun 15, 2009
    Posts: 1,522

    traffic61
    Member
    from Owasso, OK

    Many years ago, I worked in a tire/auto supply store with a rather colorful assistant manager named Dennis. One day, while he, Tim the new guy and I were shooting the breeze, this incredibly well endowed blonde walked through the front door. Dennis went on point and said, "Whoa, check out the rack on that blonde!"

    The attractive blonde walked up to Tim and said "Honey, you ready to go to lunch?"

    Tim went to lunch with his looker wife, Dennis went to hide in the office and I went to stockroom to burst out laughing.
     
  5. 23tub
    Joined: Jun 8, 2013
    Posts: 91

    23tub
    Member

    Ahhhhh. Whoops? Good one!
     
  6. stimpy
    Joined: Apr 16, 2006
    Posts: 3,547

    stimpy

    whats a Pontiac GOOlie ??? never heard of that before .

    I worked for Forest city in the Chicago area while in college and we would get our share . remember the Ford duraspark ignition systems , were you had to know what shift of what day the car was made on , plus the module color , when you asked questions on the occasion you have to ask , and I had one customer smart mouthedly ask me if I needed the color of the car , I told him no but I needed the color of the connector and the box color . he got all pissed off and asked for my manager . manager asked him what the problems was , told him I was a smart ass about the questions , then he ( manager ) asked him . the guy felt 2 inches tall when we showed him the 6 different modules and the book .

    or the one when the smart asses at the giant auto store thought it was funny calling asking for a thermostat for a 72 1600 vw thermostat . I had a extra one I kept on the shelf for myself and sent it over to them .. [​IMG]
    and I sent them a oil cooler when they called for a radiator ..

    never mess with a counter guy who owns and repairs a VW ...
     
  7. 23tub
    Joined: Jun 8, 2013
    Posts: 91

    23tub
    Member

    While working at my first parts store (NAPA) back in PA, one of our best customers was the local Ford dealership. The parts guy there (Smitty) called one day when the phones were ringing off the hook and people were standing 2 deep at the counter. I grabbed the phone for Smitty's call and he must have had radar or something to know that I was up to my ears. The SOB said that he needed a water pump for a Corvair. Not expecting anything I dutifully opened the water pump catalog until I realized that I had been had. We all got a good laugh out of that one. Got him back a month or so later when I called asking for a distributor cap and a set of plug wires for a diesel Ford.
     
  8. Zerk
    Joined: May 26, 2005
    Posts: 1,418

    Zerk
    Member

    Had one mechanic come to the counter and in a thick Southern accent ask for "Eclipse". I must have had him repeat it ten times, and everybody else was trying to help. Is it an oil additive? A gas treatment?

    "No," he said, "it's a biddy little clip, goes on the end of the shaft, holds it in. E-clips! E-clips!". Everybody cracked up, him included. After that he named me "E-clip," used to sing out for me every time he walked through the door.

    Another guy wanted some ignition parts for the 289 Ford in his newish Jeep CJ. I asked him out of curiosity more than anything how he swapped it in there.
    "It's stock, original equipment" he said, and glared at me.
    I knew they had AMC V8s and sixes, later on GM fours, but never heard of one with a Ford engine, and said so. The guy started shouting at me about "all you parts guys keep telling me that! It's the original engine!". He looked like he wanted to swing at me, and I was happy to have the owner come over to take the order.
     
  9. onetrickpony
    Joined: Sep 21, 2010
    Posts: 615

    onetrickpony
    Member
    from Texas

    I love these thread. They always make me remember something that happened long ago.

    Once a nice looking young lady came into the parts house wearing a button up shirt that was not buttoned at all, just had the tails tied up across her belly. When she reached over for something, one of her boobs popped out of the shirt and she didn't notice. For some reason, every parts man and most of the customers came up with reasons to try and help her with her purchase.

    Had a lady come in one time to ask if we could tell her what went wrong with the paint job her husband had done on her car. The paint was all bumpy and dull looking. Turns out the guy had used one of the airless sprayers used to paint houses.

    We had an industrial account that hired a Mexican guy as a mechanic. He was a good mechanic but whenever I waited on him, he always repeated his order twice. When a new guy we had hired, who spoke Spanish, heard him do it he about swallowed his tongue trying not to laugh in front of the customer. Turns out I had a habit of saying "OK" after someone told me what they wanted. With typical Southern accent, this usually came out as 'K. Que, pronounced "kay" means "what?" in Spanish. The guy must have though I was really dense to never understand his order the first time. After that I always remembered to say something besides OK when he came in.
     
  10. stimpy
    Joined: Apr 16, 2006
    Posts: 3,547

    stimpy

    I wanted to see the look of the parts guy at my cummins dealer when I called for plugs and coils for one of there diesels . young kid answered , he said hold on ( probably thought it was a joke, till he asked who was calling ) we had a rare Propane/lpg Westport ISG conversion show up and they have plugs to light the mixture , . should have seen the look on my mechanics face when he saw that Clusterfudge , and I had to explain to him its a Hybrid ...
     
  11. 23tub
    Joined: Jun 8, 2013
    Posts: 91

    23tub
    Member

  12. 23tub
    Joined: Jun 8, 2013
    Posts: 91

    23tub
    Member

    Excellent!
     
  13. 23tub
    Joined: Jun 8, 2013
    Posts: 91

    23tub
    Member

     
  14. 23tub
    Joined: Jun 8, 2013
    Posts: 91

    23tub
    Member

    For those who don't know, 710 is OIL upside down.
     
  15. SpazTaztic
    Joined: Aug 5, 2009
    Posts: 430

    SpazTaztic
    Member

    Ha Ha I love these threads!

    I am always the one messing with the new kid at the local parts store. The older manager has known me for years and just lets them scramble and panic looking for these parts while we sit back and chuckle.
     
  16. myold88
    Joined: Oct 25, 2010
    Posts: 71

    myold88
    Member
    from ct

    In 1959 I got a Summer job at Whipple Pontiac's parts dept on Long Island. After H.S. I went to work there full time. I stayed there long enough to see the '62 Grand Prix's and the '64 G.T.O's come out. I remember at one time they had 2 '61 Catalinas on the used car lot- Both 4 speed bubble tops ! Two more Pontiac dealers and 2 Chevrolet dealers later I racked up a ton of memories. Saw the new '62 Chev 2's all set up for the V/8 but not available yet except as a parts dept dealer install accy kit. The '63 409 Chev including the RPO Z11. We had a customer who had one and was in every week ordering parts- VIN number was needed ! That dealer, Read Chev in Queens NY had a triple black, vinyl top, '64 SS 409, 4 speed on the showroom floor unsold for months. I was told the customer ordered it but was drafted and was on his way to Nam- Deposit returned. I was in that parts dept when we heard JFK was shot- Dozens of cars and stories but I'll stop now...... Sorry for rambling on.
     
  17. stimpy
    Joined: Apr 16, 2006
    Posts: 3,547

    stimpy

     
  18. 23tub
    Joined: Jun 8, 2013
    Posts: 91

    23tub
    Member

     
  19. SquireDon
    Joined: Aug 8, 2010
    Posts: 600

    SquireDon
    Member
    from Oregon

    Wouldn't you have been lost without the parts catalogs on the counter?
    I mean, essentially you used them the same way, right?
     
  20. 54fierro
    Joined: Jul 6, 2006
    Posts: 493

    54fierro
    Member
    from san diego

    the accents, haha

    I had an asian customer come in for a battery.
    him " i need a battery"
    me " what kind of car?"
    him "acura"
    me " what model?"
    him " acura"
    me " i need the model, is it an integra?'
    him "bigger(to my ears)"
    me "legend?"
    him "bigger"
    me "bigger? what, like an suv?"

    I decide to open up the catalog anyways and there it is "holy shit, vigor!"
    learned something that day :)
     
  21. 23tub
    Joined: Jun 8, 2013
    Posts: 91

    23tub
    Member

    Used for the same purpose - yes. The thing being is that you had many ways to use them other than make, model and year. There was always the parts cross-reference if you knew SOMEBODY's part number. Had to know what manufacturer made what type of parts to get to the right catalog.

    Plus, we didn't need to wait for them to boot up or be out of luck if power went out or the network went down.

    Parts guys needed to know a bit about cars. Most of the clerks I've seen at the big chain parts stores know next to nothing, other than how to use the computer. Maybe it's just my own experiences, but the NAPA stores seem to have parts people that are a bit more knowledgeable.

    In many ways, things were simpler then. Almost all GM V8 cars used the same points, condenser, rotor and distributor cap (unless dual point distributor). Plugs for a SBC? Champion UJ-12Y.

    Cars didn't tell the mechanic what was wrong. We had mechanics then - not "technicians".

    Gotta admit that engines have come a long way - not to mention brakes and handling. Don't need lots of cubic inches anymore for lots of HP.

    Progress is fine. Maybe due to the relative complexity of today's cars, the computers make more sense.
     
  22. BEEFCURTIN
    Joined: Dec 7, 2012
    Posts: 9

    BEEFCURTIN
    Member

    I have a friend who told his wife to go get his wife some Lugnuts so she went to the counter and Napa told that she needed some love nuts!!!!


    Posted using the Full Custom H.A.M.B. App!👍
     
  23. 23tub
    Joined: Jun 8, 2013
    Posts: 91

    23tub
    Member

    Terrific! I wonder if they found any on the shelf? Maybe had to order from the warehouse?
     
  24. 55 Ford Gasser
    Joined: Jul 7, 2011
    Posts: 639

    55 Ford Gasser
    Member

    About five years ago, a lady comes into parts store where I was working. She wanted a can of freon. I asked if she wanted the r12 or 134. She didn't know so I went out to check her car. I opened her hood and informed her that her car did not come with air conditioning. Seems the person that sold her the car had said the a/c just needed freon. She couldn't understand because the heater controls had an arrow that said hot on one end and cooler on the other end.
     
  25. need louvers ?
    Joined: Nov 20, 2008
    Posts: 12,906

    need louvers ?
    Member


    Did that same thing at a Checker Auto Parts one time about twenty years ago and was asked to leave.

    A buddy and I drove up to and parked right in front of the store in his '35 Ford pickup that we had just finished putting a MustangII front end in. After putting it together we decided that it really DID need ball joints and tie rod ends. I walked up to the kid at the counter and said "I need ball joints and tie rod ends for a Ford Pinto" What year sir? "Any year will be fine between '74 and '80." WHAT YEAR SIR? "Call it a '75!" Is your car REALLY a '75 Ford Pinto? "It doesn't matter, type in any year between '74 and '80 and the same number will come up..." What engine? "which ever you would like to type in, it will all be the same, so you pick it, or call it a 2.3 liter." I'm going to need to speak to my manager!

    The overweight little guy comes from the back clearly perturbed that he has been disturbed and asks me What is the problem here? "None, I just need some Pinto ball joints and tie rod ends" Then why won't you tell my guy what year and model it is? "Because they are all the same from '74-'80 and I'm not sure of the exact year of the car as the front end is in that truck out front..." THAT'S NOT SAFE! I REFUSE TO SELL YOU PARTS FOR SOMETHING THAT CAN'T BE DONE!!! LEAVE MY STORE!!! "Okay....":D
     
  26. 33sporttruck
    Joined: Jun 5, 2012
    Posts: 532

    33sporttruck
    Member

    This Thread is Great and brings back some very old memories from 30 years past.
    Working in a Mom and Pop Type Store allows you to really get to know your customers well enough to Joke with them when they came in.
    Mr.Hendricks had not been in the store for months and when he came in he noticed that I hard grown a full beard.
    Hendricks walked directly to the counter, reached over and put both of his hands on my face. He rubbed my beard a few times, smiled, then stepped back and said, "That feels just like my old lady's "Cooter !!!"
    When he stepped back, I put my hand on my face and rubbed my beard and said, "you are right, It feels just like her Cooter !!! There was a moment of silence before the laughter began..................................Jeff
     
  27. need louvers ?
    Joined: Nov 20, 2008
    Posts: 12,906

    need louvers ?
    Member



    Pure, Complete, Awesome!!!
     
  28. 33sporttruck
    Joined: Jun 5, 2012
    Posts: 532

    33sporttruck
    Member

    One of the Young Guys that I worked with had a Girl Friend that was Very Hot !!! She had a bad habit of wearing very revealing clothing when she came into visit.
    Girl friend walks in one day wearing a "Tube Top" and the shortest "Daisy Dukes" that I have ever seen.
    Chris told her to go home and put on some clothes.
    An Older Man stepped forward and said, "Hell Boy, leave her alone, this is the most excitement I have had all day"
    Chris walked her to the door in a hurry........... Party Over !!!..........Jeff
     
  29. 23tub
    Joined: Jun 8, 2013
    Posts: 91

    23tub
    Member

    And this guy was the manager. Amazing.
     
  30. 23tub
    Joined: Jun 8, 2013
    Posts: 91

    23tub
    Member

    Priceless.
     

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