In this week's installment of First-Person Shooter, we sent two cameras to Clayton Leavell, a 24-year-old auto mechanic apprentice in Temple, California. Clayton's been working as a mechanic for a little over a year after making the jump from hobbyist to professional. He attends the Pasadena City College Automotive Program, and helps his colleagues at VJ's Auto and RV servicework on all varieties of vehicles from sports cars to RV's.
Clayton's Friday at the shop was extremely busy. First, an RV came in with a busted septic tank, then Clayton was called into an airport hanger to work with a mechanic named Slick Vic in order to fix a broken-down truck. Afterwards, he cracked some brews and watched planes land, ending the day on a breezy note. Here's what else he told us about the Friday he snapped the following pics.
VICE: What was your day like on the Friday you took photos of?
Clayton Leavell: Friday's are usually pretty busy so I kicked it off with a big breakfast at a diner called Chef's. Once I hit the shop, I took out the trash out and checked in with the office for an idea of the work I'd have to do that day. This Friday, I spent most of the day with my coworker Jose on an RV, doing six tires (dual axle in the back), a transmission fluid exchange, a brake flush, new brake pads and rotors, and some work on the septic system.
I also helped my service advisor pick up a few cars, and did a quality inspection on a large job on a Lincoln Navigator to make sure there were no leaks on the rear main seal between the engine and transmission, oil pan gasket, transmission pan gasket, and new AC compressor.
Looks like a guy is crouching next to a hose that's plugged into the RV. What's he doing?
He's actually replacing what I can best describe as a garbage disposal for your shit. They put a little motor with a fan blade on it in the septic system of RV's to chop up your turds for easy disposal. Our customer had gone on a trip to Colorado and hit some sub zero temperatures. The shit really hit the fan. The shit won.
Do you only work on certain types of cars?
We're an independent shop, so we work on everything from domestics to imports and RVs. It really keeps you on your toes and tests your knowledge on all fronts. These days, mechanics have to have a solid handle on the theory behind combustion engines and also be a plumber, an electrician, a welder, a diagnostician, and a computer technician. Continuing education is a must.
Why'd you go the airport?
I went down to the airport to do some work at a different shop with my coworker. We moved some cars around and got some engines ready to be put back in. I also ended up drinking some beers with some pretty cool old dude who hangs around and works on furniture.
What was that Buick doing at the airport?
The Buick is down there waiting to be restored. The engine needs to be resealed and retuned. It's such a beautiful boat of a car. Eighteen feet long with a 5.3 liter V8 and a trunk big enough to hide five stool pigeons in.
I see that photo with a whole bunch of beers on your car in the Police Parking Only area. Did you get in any trouble?
Naw, the helicopter police are pretty cool. They were more concerned about locating beers for themselves than anything else.
Why do all auto shops seem to have nudie calendars up on the walls?
It's like an unspoken tradition of shops. They're hiding where it's hard for customers to find them without permission. It's like an easter egg hunt when I go to another shop to find them. I'm never disappointed.
How did your day end?
My day ended with a very refreshing Negra Modelo while watching the planes land for the night.