This I Believe

Ernie - lynnwood, Washington
Entered on November 30, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: work

From the bottom of the totem pole to the top

I remember it like it was yesterday, another day on the job at an auto body shop. I started there at the shop after several working the misery of the retail industry. Though I was very good at selling TV’s winning the award for most monthly sales average in the region. I became bored even though I was “at the top of the totem pole”. I realized putting up with customers and “making the sale” just became a bore. As I sat jobless for a few weeks I began to think of the next big step in my career. I began to think of cars and how my family was amazingly cursed with the bad luck of auto wrecks. I thought to my self “why not work at a body shop?”

A couple days later I signed on to a big business body shop with 10 stores in Washington, a few in Canada and one in Idaho. Only downfall was I was at the bottom of the “totem pole” is the best way I can put it, a detailer at an auto body repair shop. I thought to myself there would be no way on getting to the top in this industry. I mean come on my biggest upgrade was going from cashier to top salesmen in the electronics department, so now I have to figure how I am going to promote in automotive collision repair business, but how? These guys have 20 years of experience. Well I don’t have 20 years to wait. As I kicked in about the first week everyone around the shop realized how clean the cars looked and how clean I kept the shop. But what they never noticed was how I always watched the painter when I was doing nothing at all. I slowly caught on to what he was doing and how to do it all. It was amazing how easy he made it seem making the cars look like they’ve never even been in a wreck. I then decided I am going to paint cars someday because the painter was making $100,000 a year.

Now was my turning point for success and here is my biggest step in my young life. I was staying late at the shop one night just vacuuming the inside of my car and the painter had a long list still left to go. He then asked me if I wanted to learn how to paint, I responded with a chuckle saying “ man I’ve already seen everything I should know, I watch you paint all the time” and he laughed back at me and said “your learning the same exact way I learned’. That was the point I realized it was time for me to go from the “bottom of totem pole” to the top. Then he said these words to me “grab that paint gun and spray that car in the booth”. The car looked amazing and then he told my boss in the morning. Now I serve as a part time painter and lets just say someone else is at the bottom now, and now I’m back at the top.