I went back to Clark & Rile and stayed until 1952, when I went into business buying wrecked autos, rebuilding them and selling them at auction. I was working alone one night when fire broke out on the paint bench. By the time the Fire Department got there, almost everything was gone. What the fire didn't destroy the firemen did walking on top of hot cars. I then went to work for Noel McIntosh who was then a good friend. Noel had a Shell gas station and Pontiac dealership. He said his health would not allow him to work the garage and he could not find anyone in Orleans that was qualified and dependable. If I didn't help him out he would have to give up the repair business. He would pay me $50.00 a week plus 50% of all I took in above a $100.00 a week. I worked two weeks and was paid no bonus. I asked him about it and he said he would pay it monthly at the end of the month. He said he had been too busy to figure it up. I would get it next month. The end of that month, his wife who was his book keeper was sick and hadn't gotten to figuring it up. After the third month, I asked him if he had any intention of paying my bonus. He said he thought he would average it up over a year and pay me then.
I said, "No you don't. You either pay me as we agreed or I'm gone."
He asked what I thought he owed me and I told him I had kept record of all I did and showed him what my bonus was.
He wrote me a check for a little over a hundred dollars.
He handed it to me and said, "I think this evens it up."
I looked at it and it was just a token of what he owed. I handed it back and said, "Mac, you need this worse than I do."
After this lesson in human honesty, I went back home to Clark & Rile, where I stayed until they sold out to Paul Chase. At the time they sold out in 1960, I had advanced from wash boy in 1939 to service manager. We moved from I St. to J St., where Paul had a Plymouth Agency. The two were combined and turned over to his boy, Frank, who didn't know @#*! from apple butter. Don Jackson was his service manager and with no need for two service managers, I was hired on as a mechanic. We were working straight commission, which I like, if given the work. Don gave his old men jobs first and I got what was left. I still made more than anyone in the shop because I had air operated tools and could put out a job in half the time, and I generally got Buicks, which I knew inside and out, to work on. My speed caused hard feelings between me, Don and Frank on one occasion. A tourist came in just before lunch with a Buick that was pulling from one side to the other. Don asked me if I knew what was causing it. I said I knew exactly what it was. He then said the man was in a hurry and asked if I would work on it through the lunch hour. I told Don what parts were needed and started tearing it down. Everything went as it should have and in little over an hour, I had him ready to go, which should have made him happy. But he complained about the labor cost on his bill. That I had only been on it an hour. Our shop and most others in town worked on a "flat rate". We had a book that told the time each job should take. If we beat the book we made a little more. If we didn't do it in the time the book said, we lost. Don came to me and said he was complaining about the labor cost.
I said, "You have a book to go by. The charge would have been the same if it had taken me all day."
Don said, "We have to keep our customers happy. I'm going to cut the labor in half."
I told him if he wanted to give something away to give him some parts, or a discount on them. Or if he had to give away labor to give away Frank's half. I was working for 50% of the labor I took in. Frank didn't go for that so I ended up working through my lunch hour for nothing.