Crazy as Shithouse Rats, White Powder Madness, Nightmares from the Service Lane (Part II)

I have to say the 1990’s were the White Powder era, and I’m not talking about OxyClean.  Automotive people have always been somewhat notorious for substance abuse.  I remember a time when almost all technicians and salesmen were heavy smokers and heavy drinkers.  I knew a few techs who partook of  herbal enjoyment on a regular basis too, although this is not nearly as common today because most repair facilities and dealerships do routine- or at least random- drug testing these days.  The possibility of being singled out for the Piss Test has contributed to many people getting and staying clean these days, but drug testing was rare until the late 1990’s.  I’m not a technician, but I had to have similar training, and I worked closely with them.  I was a chain smoker and binge drinker too, but that’s about as bad as the substance abuse thing went with me. 

Unfortunately the upper-level managers (especially the ones acquired through nepotism- i.e. owners’ sons, brothers-in-law, etc.) could afford better drugs than us peons who would go out and have a few shots or maybe a toke or two on a joint.  White powder was a common scourge among salesmen, finance managers, sales managers, and general managers.  Occasionally one would see a parts or service manager who was into white powder too (I worked for two parts managers who were hard core coke heads) but it was less common.    I had the bad fortune to work in one dealership where both the parts manager (who was my direct boss) and the general manager were high as hell on coke just about every day. 

I’m plenty aware of drugs.  I’ve gotten to experience the rantings of the drunk, stoned and high for years.

The general manager I speak of (I am omitting names to protect the guilty) was about 5’3″ high and about 5’3″ wide.  He taught me one good lesson: Crown Royal is not an acceptable breakfast choice, unless you’re planning on staying in bed all day.  Mr. Roly Poly (who just about wore the Avalon he drove) came in the service drive one morning with some pretty bad scrapes on the front cover of the new Avalon he was driving.  God only knows what he hit- or how many things he hit- on the way to work, but there were some nice bright white scrapes on that all black car. He opened the door, unbuckled his seat belt, and pretty much rolled out of said Avalon onto the concrete.  If I had to guess, I’d say he was at least 40 proof.  At 7 AM.  Since the whole shop was afraid of this guy nobody had the guts to mention the obvious even as he staggered across the shop and somehow dragged himself into his office, where he probably locked the door and finished the bottle of Crown Royal he had stashed in his desk.

This dude was a certifiable psycho even when he wasn’t drunk and/or high, but when he was plastered (and chumming it up with the parts manager- an obnoxious buddy of his, not the guy who hired me, and who I also couldn’t stand) he was a class A douche.  He hated women working in automotive and was rather vocal about it.  Whenever he saw me behind the counter- which was often because I worked the retail counter back then- he would make comments about how he’d rather have one of the guys help him since I couldn’t possibly know anything, etc. and so on.  One day he read me the riot act about not wearing my name tag (neither did anyone else, but I was the only one harassed about it) even though if I did wear it, he would still call me “Tina,” even though that’s not my name.  He called all the women who worked in that dealership “Tina” for some bizarre reason.

Tina?  The only time I’ve ever had remotely red hair in my life was one time in high school when I (most erroneously) thought henna would make it darker…but I had my typical Nice-n-Easy 124 (Natural Blue Black) going on when this joker called me Tina.

I did get the satisfaction of witnessing the big blowup the owner had with both of these bozos- in the middle of the service department in front of the techs- when the owner happened to drop in right as these jerkoffs came back from the titty bar- drunk and high and out of their minds.  Needless to say, it was their last day.  I generally don’t like to see people get fired, but I couldn’t have been more overjoyed to see these two festering assholes go.  I was even more delighted when I learned, shortly after their unplanned departure, that both of them had gotten social diseases.  So they had to explain to their wives- a.) I got fired for coming back from lunch drunk and high, and b.) you’re going to need to go to the Dr. because, guess what, I gave you the clap!

I worked as a parts manager in another dealership where white powder was rampant among the salesmen.  I’ve only met two car salesmen in my life that I didn’t want to instinctively strangle on sight- one is a dear friend, the other I’ve lost touch with, but both were ex-military and very down to earth people. 

Most car salesmen are egotistical pricks who think the world revolves around them, and while they generally don’t know jack squat about what they’re selling, they are condescending to those who do actually know the product- the techs, advisors, and parts personnel.  That’s just plain grating.  My good friend was working at this dealership selling cars among the coke heads (he was not a coke user, thankfully.)  This guy was about 6’4″ and a good 250#, and he had been in the Army for 20+ years as a drill sergeant.  My friend had walked into the men’s while this other guy (who was an obnoxious little prick if I say so myself) was snorting up a line- right there in the men’s room.   Big mistake.  The next time I saw Mr. Obnoxious Prick he had a black eye, a broken arm, and pretty much looked like he’d been run over by a truck.  He was also amazingly quiet, and ever so polite when he was asking me about an order for one of his customer’s cars, so much so, that I had to ask him what the hell happened.  Maybe there was something I needed to know about keeping these guys in line.

His answer was, “I fell down.”

I thought that a bit fishy, because Mr. Obnoxious Prick was beat up pretty bad to have just fallen down.  Later that afternoon, I asked my friend, who had to work with this guy, what exactly happened.  He told me Mr. Obnoxious Prick did fall down, but he had a little help, as in, “What happened to Dinkus*,?” to which my friend replied,

“I happened to him.  He had a little help falling down. I caught him snorting a line in the men’s room.” 

*not his real name, but should have been…

I understand R. Lee Ermey is a Marine (and the movie Full Metal Jacket totally kicks ass,) but apparently, messing with a retired Army drill sergeant isn’t a very good idea either.