It’s time for another post by a guest blogger, Frank Giovinazzi. This is post 3 of 4 for Frank. If you’re interested in writing for SYBO drop me an email or hit up the contact form and let me know. I pay $10 post for at least 500 words of well thought out, educational yet entertaining posts about selling online.
My car was up on the lift, ostensibly for an oil change. I was relaxing in the shitty, dirty, old school repair shop waiting area. I couldn’t complain though because the place had always been cheaper than Jiffy-Lube-You-Right-Up-The-Ass and they were usually fast. But the regular manager wasn’t on duty, and the older guy behind the counter was probably the owner. When I finally realized it was taking longer than usual, I also realized the guy’s behavior was off. It was probably just a standard issue Red Bull overdose, but could just as easily have been some kind of speed. There was the added component of the nervousness born of larceny.
On alert I was up and in the no customers allowed waiting area in a flash. Why were my front tires off the fucking car? He said, “Your inspection was overdue and one of the front struts was broken. It’ll only be another half hour.” “How much?, I said” “With the oil change and inspection, $400, he told me” “Too much. Finish the oil change and put my tires back on the fucking car.” I knew the struts were also off and figured to use the hassle to negotiate a lower price. Now I was realizing he had already had a couple heated exchanges with some other customers and goddamn, if this guy wasn’t trying to pay his fucking mortgage by stuffing unneeded repairs on his customers. We went back and forth. I accused him of lying about the broken strut. He was getting more agitated, and a couple more customers were starting to argue with him too. If I had to incite an insurrection to get the price down, so be it.
He showed me the leaking fluid from the strut. It was probably actually broken, and I could remember that the car was riding soft up front so I acquiesced. I got the total price down to $325, after the supply store sent the wrong struts the first time and the job took almost four hours. The laid back younger manager had come back, and he had the “I have a shitty job working for an asshole and I’m sorry” look on his face, and I let it go. The new struts turned out to be necessary. The problem was the guy tried to stuff me without explaining the need, and also tried to overcharge me.
But his assholishness didn’t change the fact that driving all over the place hauling books in a sedan had broken the equipment. A couple months later I incurred a physical injury that was much more painful. I bent down to pick up a pair of stacked boxes and heard the rip. It went down from the top of my shoulder to about the middle of my back. I never had it formally diagnosed, but from reading about the effects – and the pain – and talking to other people who had the same injury, I believe it was a torn rotator cuff.
The pain actually wasn’t too bad for a couple weeks but then it got unbearable. I couldn’t lift my right arm over my shoulder, occasionally walked like Marty Feldman in Young Frankenstein and was terrified it was never going to heal.
It lasted over six months. Half a year of being unable to lift my arm, even in the shower to wash properly [I raised it and laid it against the tile with my left hand like a cripple to get underarm clean], was an unsettling experience.
Is this what my little subsistence job was doing for me? Enough money for inventory, gas, food and a lifetime disability? I had damaged my car, and now my self, and throw in the four foot of snow shitty winter and Seasonal Affective Disorder, and I was not a happy camper. But it was what I had, and I compensated by shifting to smaller, lighter boxes [from 65 pounders to 35] and just kept going. After about four months my shoulder started getting better, and it got back to maybe 80%. A little sigh of existential relief and less smelly armpits.
Eventually it healed. I can lift my arm over my head. I can lift 70 pound boxes – though if I do it a couple days in a row the right shoulder is sore. The struts in the car are holding up, and I switched service providers to the local Lincoln-Mercury dealer where I bought car. They’re more expensive, but they do a good job and there’s no bait and switch.
Any job or business has inherent physical challenges. Think about how many people are trying to scam a workman’s compensation claim on repetitive stroke injury – “I hurt myself typing!” Because the book business entails dealing with a large volume of heavy boxes the potential injuries to body and equipment are pretty obvious. They happened to me. I’m more careful now handling equipment and loading vehicles, and generally pause when lifting a lot of boxes. It’s just another cost.
Adam’s note: Wow, it must suck being old, huh, Frank?