Column: Valuable lessons learned during summer car dealership job

River Childers
Oxford Stories

This past summer, I had the great pleasure of working as a member of the service department at a local Chevrolet dealership in my hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana.

To me, it was one of the coolest jobs a person my age could get. I was given the honor of driving many different cars, from Corvettes to lift trucks, that I sometimes struggled getting into because of their size.

I learned how technicians fix the cars. Vehicles came in and sometimes needed a new engine, which is fascinating to watch. Sometimes, I helped techs by handing them tools, pulling up cars for them, and running parts to different places around town if needed.

The technicians had me test drive cars to see if the check engine light or any other notifications appeared on the vehicle. Anytime you were assigned a test drive meant you had to drive for at least 30 miles so the techs know the vehicle has been completely repaired.

My job was as a porter in the service department. I was instructed to greet customers when they pulled into the service drive, find a service adviser who could take care of the customer, write notations about why the vehicle is there for repair, run errands, and wash cars.

During the summer, many vehicles come in to the dealership for your traditional service check, oil change, tire rotation, etc. The earliest shift I worked was 6:50 a.m., and at times, the line for cars to get serviced was all the way to street, which resulted in a busy and hectic morning. The good thing about being busy was that time went by fast, and I felt productive throughout the day.

As a porter, we were moving cars no matter what the weather was outside. When the rain came, we had time to go out and do whatever needed to be done.

One time, I pushed a car from the back to one of the tech’s stalls. Although I got drenched, it made for a good laugh, and having to work taught me a lot and helped me grow as a young adult.

Once, I had to drive a Chevy 3500 diesel truck with no power steering onto a trailer that was just wide enough for the truck. Since I was smaller than the other workers, I was instructed to drive the truck onto the trailer.

With four grown men pushing the truck, we finally got it onto the trailer after 40 minutes. Everyone cheered and shouted. It was like a football game was going on in the back. We all worked together and were pleased when the task was behind us.

The coolest thing I did was drive a brand new 2017 Camaro ZL1 from one side of town to the other. The Camaro was the second fastest car GM makes besides the Corvette ZO6.

When I opened the door to the muscle car, I looked at the inside, and I thought I was getting into a NASCAR stock car. The interior was stunning. The dash had all sorts of gauges. There were paddle-shifters for shifting gears. This vehicle had everything.

When I got out of the parking lot, I wanted to go fast, but traffic was really heavy during the time. It was a cool experience I would love to have someday.

I learned that working at a dealership can be very hectic and chaotic throughout the day. Daily, we had three big rushes of vehicles coming in to get serviced.

There was always one in the morning; people would drop off their cars before going to work. The second was around lunchtime. Typically, those were in for just an oil change. The third was at the end of the day when people would come to pick up their vehicles. The rushes were busy, but fun because many vehicles came in, and I was able to drive them.

Working at a dealership was one of the coolest things I had ever done. I learned a lot about being in a workplace, being responsible, and many more important values.

I appreciated working with my co-workers, who were fantastic people. I thoroughly enjoyed driving all the different cars. I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to work for the dealership and fortunate to learn all that I did.

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