Howdy. Many years ago I used to be Maxman Motorcycle Services of Stamford CT. That was before hardly anybody knew about the internet so you probably never heard of me but I apprenticed under Carlos Escudero of Motofixx (later Solomoto). We worked on whatever came in the door. It was a pretty good life.
Then for some stupid reason I decided to get a college degree. I really don't remember what possessed me to do so. I think I had an idea that if you have a college degree somebody hands you a cushy desk job with a big paycheck. Taht didn't work out too well for me but I started my own shop to get through it and that turned out to be a pretty smart idea.
I rented out 2000 feet of wharehouse space and built myself a cool bachealor pad in the back and 100% of my life was tax-deductable and so I got really favorable rates on the degree itself (it was a state university with a sliding-scale pay thing) and with the tax incentives for fist-year businesses and such at the time, I think I ended up paying like $1k out of pocket for books and such.
All I had to do, because we were on really good terms with every motorcycle shop within 100 miles was just show up and tell them "I'll take all the mopeds and scooters and junk you don't want to work on" and they were like "oh yes thank you, you are god, we hate mopeds".
How can you hate mopeds? Ya just ain't right in the head to hate mopeds. That's just wrong.
So I worked on Minarelli and Batavus and Puch and Peugeot and Sachs and Derbi and Tomos and Piaggio and Zundap and heavens knows how many others I forgot and I was considered pretty expert. I think I owe most of my reputation to this really snazzy Snap-On dial indicator. But it was kinda like working in the dark before internet let me tell you,
YOU GUYS HAVE SUCH COMPLETE TECH SPECS ON THINGS IT'S LIKE DREAMLAND. Half of what we were doing before all this info was trial and error. But now I look back in time after a career in technology, politics and business-building and I see that in many ways I was much more happy then than I am now.
Ain't that sad? I'm an old man that misses being the young kid that fixed mopeds. I remember how freaking important I felt having my very own shop. I felt like the king of the world! I had lots of friends come to my parties. We used to play these outrageous drunken moped-tag games. All the gals wanted to be with me and half the dudes wanted to be me. But the whole time I was just using mopeds to get something else I wanted which was the stupid degree.
They say to follow what you love in life. I'm here to tell you it's true in reverse: I could have stuck with what I loved but I didn't. I left the love of my life behind. But every year since I have heard a small, quiet voice calling to me and it says Puch. Puch. Puuuuuuuuuuuuuch.
So just the other day I bounce into the local thrift store and HELLO KITTY! It just came in the door and it went right back out pretty fast. It's the hobbled 1hp Sport MKII but it's complete and unrestored. Only thing I need for that is a petcock (currently shipping from those crazy guys at Treat). And naturally I'm looking for salvage parts. Think I might have found my guy already.
If there's any kind of advice I can give aspiring young wrenches who want to do what I did except for do it right, there's a way to kind of work the books. Get yourself a shop and build a secret apartment in the back so your rent, your phone, everything is all deductable. Then go for every tax advantage and SBA grants and stuff you can find. Being a young, honest and had working young wrench has lots of advantages because people basically respect you and try to help you out. I was the young kid working hard to get a college degree. People really helped me out.
And you do good work and you turn it around quick and ALWAYS CHARGE THEM UNTIL YOU SEE THEN WHINCE. YOU HAVE TO HURT THEIR WALLET TO GET RESPECT.
Now I guess it's been long enough to where I can make this admission but my shop had a sliding scale. If you showed up in a beat up old pickemup truck with 3 half naked kids and a dog you are getting a pretty good deal from me.
If you showed up in a BMW the price just went up. Show up in a Porsche and I'm taking me and everybody I know out to dinner. I never said so publicly before but I thought of it as my "Robinhood pricing structure". Steal from the rich, give the poor a break.
I guess with so few decent carreer fields available to young people these days, being a wrench is totally something to be! You work indoors, it's warm in the winter and cool in the summer, you get your boom box and an ash tray and a fridge full of beer. You are always, always necessary, your skills can take you anywhere in the world. And there's just TONS of pride and satisfaction in it. Plus I'm very happy to see that there is a MOPED ARMY and you are all happy and fun people.
Plus, as our nation seems to be intent on a collision course with economic reality, small and efficient is gonna be making a major come back. My advice on that front is to get into solar and electrics along with two strokes and such. There's only a few new methods to pick up in solar for the young wrench.
I'd like to see more young lady wrenches out there.
Your coveralls are your uniform and the grease on your brow is your badge of office. The wrench in your hand can be a weapon or an instrument of life. The stickers on your rollaway boxes literally catalog the story of your life and they will be your boxes even after you die.
If there is a God on this earth, it's the young wrench with his or her very own shop. Just do the one thing I didn't do. Stick with what you love in this world no matter what kind of promises the world makes to you. It's probably a bad trade.
Now I'm lucky if I can get the dog to hang out. I am no longer cool. Maybe I can regain just a bit of my coolness. I still got the piston stop and the flywheel puller and the dial indicator so another Puch is coming back from the dead. I'm gonna ride it. (edited)