Magazine article Management Today

Grease Is Still the Word

Magazine article Management Today

Grease Is Still the Word

Article excerpt

Will a morning shift at Kwik Fit help Dave Waller fix his deflated masculinity?

I'm off to Kingston for a morning at Kwik Fit, getting a quick fix of rubber, grease and unburned hydrocarbons. I fear I'll be a bit of a fifth wheel: getting me to change a tyre is like asking the Michelin Man to check an article for spelling mistakes. But as I roll into Kingston on a sunny Tuesday, I look on the bright side - wielding a ratchet handle may help me fix my deflated masculinity.

The Kwik Fit site is wrapped around two sides of a car park, doors-up revealing cars on raised platforms in front of tyre-racks. Branch manager Wayne tells me that Kwik Fit handles everything from tyres and exhausts to chipped windscreens. 'No one looks forward to buying tyres,' he says. 'It's a stress purchase. So our job is to make it as pleasant as possible.'

I join Dan, the MOT man, in the new testing centre, running through the official Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (Vosa) checklist on a Vauxhall Astra. He's a proper car buff - he used to bunk off school to work in his mate's garage. This 'apprenticeship' did the trick: he's now a trained mechanic, but likes doing MOTs because he doesn't have to get his hands dirty. I could fit in here ...

Spending your working day up to your elbows in grime is a health hazard If you don't wear the disposable gloves, you can develop dermatitis. I'm also warned not to scoff my lunch with oily fingers.

The MOT is like a medical check-up. A metal stick is pushed into the exhaust pipe to see what comes out. The Astra passes the emissions test and we raise her up to check underneath. Dan notes down the onset of rust on the gearbox, then drives her onto a set of rollers to test the brakes. The results are fed into a computer via a handheld gizmo - no dog-eared scraps of paper or grimy pencil behind the ear.

The final call at MOT time is the mechanic's: what one would fail, another may pass. But it's best to err on the side of safety - even if Dan did have a young woman in tears the other day when he failed her Mini. But surely, I ask, it's good for business to look on the black side? Dan laughs the idea off: Vosa would slam the bonnet down on that plan, and the garage, if it tried. …

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