Register now to get rid of these ads!

History Memories of being a parts counterman

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

  1. mickeyc
    Joined: Jul 8, 2008
    Posts: 1,363

    mickeyc
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    A local mechanic known for his Chrysler expertise was contacted to help an area Chrysler dealer with a problem they could not solve. He brought a flywheel to the local parts store I worked in 1969. We surfaced the wheel and problem solved. The dealer talked the owner into trading the Hemi Roadrunner he had bought his son for a automatic model. The mechanic bought the road runner for $1500. He offered it to me for $2,000. I said no thanks you are not going to make $500 bucks on me!
    I showed him...
     
  2. 62rebel
    Joined: Sep 1, 2008
    Posts: 2,971

    62rebel
    Member

    spent a couple of months at one of the national chains recently.......

    I'm retracting almost every word I've ever said in defense of these stores.

    went back to my "home"; locally owned chain; tail tucked squarely between my legs. I've never encountered so much complication of a simple task (getting you your part) than in those places.

    not that we don't get "the walking brain-dead" in our stores, too....

    and cheapskate boat operators who risk burning their boats (and passengers) to the waterline using non-marine rated auto parts on their boats. usually telling them the Coast Guard can, will, and DOES investigate EVERY boat fire for unsafe equipment and WILL fine the shit out of you does the trick.
     
  3. 23tub
    Joined: Jun 8, 2013
    Posts: 91

    23tub
    Member

    Most of us have episodes like this, I think.

    I once passed up an almost done 57 Chevy convertible for $1200 because I had just bought a 2 door hardtop and didn't want another project. Been kicking myself ever since.
     
  4. 23tub
    Joined: Jun 8, 2013
    Posts: 91

    23tub
    Member

    Since you're from N.C. - the s at the end of the name (HendrickS) - is it a typo? Not Rick Hendrick? Had to ask.....
     
  5. Uncle tells of an hispanic fella asking for a "starter" for his car. After quite a time trying to get year/make/model out of him the guy went out and brought the old one in- a battery. Uncle figured the guy was kinda right- It won't start without it!
     
  6. blackrat40
    Joined: Apr 19, 2006
    Posts: 1,167

    blackrat40
    Member Emeritus

    I stopped by a nice Asian customers home one Saturday after work. He had been in our store earlier and couldn't figure out how to remove his radio.
    While working under the dash, I asked him to "hand me a screwdriver".
    He asked me if I needed "a plus or a minus?"
    HA!...what a brilliant way to describe the end of a screwdriver!
     
  7. After working in the parts department as both a counterman and a manager for over 20 years I can recall many somewhat hilarious occurrences.

    One in particular sticks out in my memory. After one very busy morning I am on the counter solo while the rest of the crew are at lunch.Normally we would have had two people manning the counter but we were short-handed that day.As any parts man knows this is probably the WORST time to be alone.Customers rush in on their lunch hour and want to be waited on immediately as do the ones who phone in their orders.

    As I am trying to field customer requests the phone rings and this customer wants a part for his Mercedes so I ask him what he needs. He says he isn't quite sure what it is but,"It's that little round thing that goes down by the radiator.... well;sort of round.......OH you know what it is!" After listening to that description and looking at the frowns of several customers who have been waiting osmewhat patiently I finally in exasperation say to the guy: 'No I DON'T know what it is! Why don't you hold the phone up close to it so I can see it better!" and hung up on him.

    At least the customers who were waiting got a laugh out of it even if the owner who had just came into the parts room didn't.
     
  8. 33sporttruck
    Joined: Jun 5, 2012
    Posts: 532

    33sporttruck
    Member

    23tub, No it was not Mr. Rick. I am a Native Born Georgia Rebel. Moved to NC to retire. To many people in the Atlanta Metro Area......
    Had a Guy walk to the Counter and ask for a rotor button for a 4 cylinder Mustang II. I walked back to the shelf, pulled the part and made the sale.
    About an hour later the same Guy comes in and slams the rotor on the Counter and starts whining. You sold me the wrong part ! You didn't even look it up in your books ! You have wasted my Time !!!
    I crack the books, look up the part and swing the book rack around so this Guy can see. Strangely, the book, picture and part # all match the rotor that I had sold him.
    The Guy starts to explain by telling me that the alignment pins (1square, 1 round) were in opposite locations compared to his old rotor.
    I simply turned the new rotor 180* and laid it on the counter and said, "All Fixed, it's Idiot Proof"
    This ticked the Guy off and he asked where I had worked before becoming a Counter Man. I could not resist, I simply said, "NASA"................... Jeff
     
  9. The HellyDid
    Joined: May 1, 2011
    Posts: 126

    The HellyDid
    Member
    from Florida

    In the early 80's I worked at Bill Brown Volkswagen. A guy would come in monthly for his bottle of Autobaun wash and wax. One day I asked him " that stuff must be awfully good" He replied with a yep it keeps my hair nice and shiny :0
     
  10. 23tub
    Joined: Jun 8, 2013
    Posts: 91

    23tub
    Member

    Ok, Jeff. Had to ask. Great story.
     
  11. 23tub
    Joined: Jun 8, 2013
    Posts: 91

    23tub
    Member

    Can't argue this one...
     
  12. Stretchmobile
    Joined: Oct 29, 2013
    Posts: 108

    Stretchmobile
    Member
    from So Cal

    In the late 70's and early 80's we hung out at Auto Haus, a VW speed emporium. I eventually worked there. One day my partner was minding the counter and a young man walked up to him. He said he his clutch isn't working and he wasn't sure what the problem was. My partner asked him if he pushed on the clutch pedal did he check to see if the clutch arm moved at the tranny, thinking it probably was the clutch cable. The young man blinked once or twice and calmly said "I'm not fast enough" We both looked at him and asked huh? He said "I'm not fast enough to push the pedal and run around back and see the arm move." True story.
     
  13. woodbutcher
    Joined: Apr 25, 2012
    Posts: 3,299

    woodbutcher
    Member

    :D Was an assistant manager at a parts house in Fl where I grew up(Indian River Auto Parts)in the mid 60`s.Had more than a few giggles there.Mostly pretty good customers.
    Thanks for the memories.
    Good luck.Have fun.Be safe.
    Leo
     
  14. 23tub
    Joined: Jun 8, 2013
    Posts: 91

    23tub
    Member

    Leo - I didn't know that there were so many ex-countermen out there. Lots of good memories from the days on the parts counter.

    Ed
     
  15. ems customer service
    Joined: Nov 15, 2006
    Posts: 2,615

    ems customer service
    Member

  16. dubnutty
    Joined: Jan 24, 2014
    Posts: 15

    dubnutty
    Member

    Well, I'm still a parts guy. Should of went to college as I was told. Been doing this for 25 years. My best story was working at the counter and a flustered customer comes up. He was all bitchin' about how he is not going to pay some grease monkey $150 to replace his brake pads. I get all the info on the car and go and grab the parts. Lay them on the counter and open the box. The customer is still going on about paying someone to do the work and inspecting the part. Then he looks up and says with a confused look on his face "now, how do you put these on?":eek:
     
  17. GregCon
    Joined: Jun 18, 2012
    Posts: 689

    GregCon
    Member
    from Houston

    In a slightly different vein, I have a friend 'Bill' who owns a transmission shop. His biggest gripe are the 'men' who have their wives do all the talking on the phone.

    You know what I mean...the truck is acting up, so they decide to call the transmission shop to ask a few questions. The 'man' doesn't want to talk directly for fear that his ignorance will be exposed, so he has his wife do the calling while he asks her the question so she can then relay it to Bill. He asks her something and she tells him to hold on while she relays the question to her 'man'.

    These are usually the same 'men' who stop in the shop so Bill can check their fluid for them on account of they don't know how.
     
    hillbilly likes this.
  18. Tudorp
    Joined: Mar 27, 2014
    Posts: 174

    Tudorp
    Member

    I really do miss the old school parts stores. There was one I used to go to all the time with my builds. It was called "Fischers Auto". Little hole in the wall parts house, that smelled like oily auto parts when you walked in. The new big stores just smells like a regular WalMart to me now. The smell and ambiance to me is a huge part of it (hopeless romantic). It had the counter full of huge parts books etc, counters beat to hell from guys slamming down large heavy parts on it for decades, and had this old man behind the counter that I always loved to talk with. That guy had to be 300 years old, and knew what you wanted or needed even if you didn't. I used to walk in when I was building my 49 GMC. Not much was original to that truck other than the sheet metal and a young kid would ask "year, model, if it had AC etc." All the typical questions in finding a part. I used to have to tell him "It's not going to be in your books, where's Chuck? (the old guy). Chuck would waltz in, and ask, "What ya need Tony?"(I think he knew every regular customer by name, amazing memory. I would tell him what I was doing, and he would just as quickly reply, "Oh.. You need a Part # XXXXX for that.." and send the young guy to the shelves. I loved that old guy. Eventially, that parts house closed down due to the large chain stores, and I don't know what ever happened to Chuck, but I truely miss the good old days of auto parts stores.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2014
  19. SanDiegoHighwayman
    Joined: Jun 26, 2012
    Posts: 951

    SanDiegoHighwayman
    Member

    lots of GREAT stories here!

    thankee

    read em all & chuckled
     
  20. 23tub
    Joined: Jun 8, 2013
    Posts: 91

    23tub
    Member

    I was amazed to find at least one of these stores around a few years ago when I needed to have new king pins fit for my t-bucket. Go to Auto Zone and ask for king pins for a late 40's Chevy truck if you want an exercise in frustration. Went through a couple attempts online to find the right ones. The ones Speedway had didn't fit. Finally found them at Chevs of the 40s online. Now to find someone to fit them.

    I finally found E & M Auto Parts in El Cajon, CA through the recommendation of a friend at our Saturday morning old car get together at the Bonita Donut Shop.

    Walking into this place put me right back to walking into Taylors where I worked so many years ago. The time-worn counters and stools, banks of catalogs on top, rotating displays of specialty tools and the smell of oil mixed with the lingering odor of cigarettes from the days when you could still smoke in public places here. Most of all, the guys behind the counters knew parts and were ready to find your part and offer whatever advice they could. They took my parts and fit those bushing on their old Sunnen hone and I was ready to put the bucket's front end back together. Nice trip in the "Way Back Machine".
     
  21. 23tub
    Joined: Jun 8, 2013
    Posts: 91

    23tub
    Member

    Must be the son or grandson of the guy who asked me for the drive shaft shims.
     
  22. 23tub
    Joined: Jun 8, 2013
    Posts: 91

    23tub
    Member

    Why do I smell a Blonde joke coming.......
     
  23. 23tub
    Joined: Jun 8, 2013
    Posts: 91

    23tub
    Member

    Well, it's about time that SOMEONE filled the need. I wonder how they're selling....
     
  24. onetrickpony
    Joined: Sep 21, 2010
    Posts: 612

    onetrickpony
    Member
    from Texas

    I had a customer who would do that. I later found out that he was deaf as a post but he read lips so well when he came into the store I never knew.
     
  25. 54fierro
    Joined: Jul 6, 2006
    Posts: 493

    54fierro
    Member
    from san diego

    Had a deaf customer come in, so no biggie i get out a pad and pencil. Guy signs to me that he can't read/write(maybe i understood wrong, anyways..).

    Ok, time to draw pictures, haha. Got it done though.
    ----------

    Answered the phone and some robotic computer voice was talking so i hung up. Happened a few more time and i kept hanging up.

    A little while later i get a deaf person come in pissed as hell. I guess there are some talking aids that talk for them through the phone, ooops.
     
  26. 23tub
    Joined: Jun 8, 2013
    Posts: 91

    23tub
    Member

    I'd have done the same thing. Hate those robo-sales calls. I've heard those computer voices for people on TV and in the movies, but never in real life.
     
  27. Havoc319
    Joined: Apr 1, 2014
    Posts: 11

    Havoc319

    Always interesting the stories of the hotrod life on long island.
     
  28. 33sporttruck
    Joined: Jun 5, 2012
    Posts: 532

    33sporttruck
    Member

    EMS customer service and 23tub, EMS, thanks for the kalecoauto link. I just sent it to my nephew (age 34) who is an internet mechanic. Every thing I try to teach him is a point of argument, every thing he reads on the internet is gospel.
    23Tub, I had the opportunity to work first in a Mom and Pop store and second (just before retiring) one of the chain type stores.
    In my opinion, a good many of the customers coming to a M&P store usually had their Stuff together. Once you knew your Customer you established a working relationship. The Chain Store is not the same. It is usually just a wax and rag store with a commercial counter near the back. At the Chain Store I worked with some of the Biggest Dumb Asses I have ever met. I really got tired of answering questions for the DA's that I worked with. I still cultivated a good relationship with some of our commercial accounts because 1) they new me from my past experience 2) because it was easy to relate to them.
    The "I Don't Know Shit Syndrome" that you find in the Chain Stores is because those kids are trained to run a computer.
    At the Chain Store I had to pass a lot of testing to maintain ASE Certification (required of Managers) When someone asked,"What does ASE Certified mean?" I would tell them "Ask Someone Else"................Jeff
     
  29. 23tub
    Joined: Jun 8, 2013
    Posts: 91

    23tub
    Member

    Jeff - I'll remember this one. Ask Someone Else. Excellent.

    Great comparison between the independents and today's chains. Thanks.

    Ed
     
  30. hot rust
    Joined: Sep 18, 2007
    Posts: 750

    hot rust
    Member

    in the late 70's an older black gentleman walked into our local napa store and asks for a commensor for his car, puzzled by what he ask for the counterman goes and get a condensor for the distributor, brings it back and puts it on the counter guy says wrong thing and says it's bigger than that, so the counterman asks what it does on the car the old gentleman says you turn the key and it commences the car to start , the counterman figures then he's talking about a starter, goes and gets one sets it out and the old gentleman says no not that but the part that sets on top of it. first time i ever heard of a starter solenoid being called a commensor......but we are in the south!
     

Share This Page

Register now to get rid of these ads!

Archive

Copyright © 1995-2021 The Jalopy Journal: Steal our stuff, we'll kick your teeth in. Terms of Service. Privacy Policy.

Atomic Industry
Forum software by XenForo™ ©2010-2014 XenForo Ltd.