Tekmetric Community Leader Al Oramas was raised to be honest, no matter the consequences.
“You guys are crazy.”
It just slipped out of my mouth, one of those uncontrollable moments you realize you can’t take back. I’d taken the feathers out of the pillow.
All eyes were on me, the entire room staring like I was out of mind.
Someone—I don’t remember who—went, “What in the world did you just do?”
In 1991, life was going great. I was working for a Honda dealership in Colorado and had become a master Honda technician, one of the first trained technicians for Acura vehicles.
I was even on my way to the next level, a Gold Wrench Master Technician. I was gonna do every bit of training, all their online courses, to hit these levels and get that Golden Wrench.
I was committed to it. I went to the training center on my days off, got with the trainer whenever I could. I asked if I could finish it, all my online testing. If I turned everything in, I’d get a plaque, a ring, and a jacket. That’s what made you a Gold Wrench Master Technician.
I was on the dealership career path and well on my way to that recognition, and figured I’d stay there—until the day management at my dealership called me and my colleagues into a meeting to give us an important message.
The message they had for us?
“We need sales and we need dollars on tickets, no matter how you get ‘em.”
Immediately, my internal alarm went off.
I didn’t feel it was right to lie to get more money out of customers. There are all these perceptions about the automotive industry, you know, people associating auto shop owners with being crooks. And I had a father who was, like, beyond ethical.
He worked as an interpreter for Spanish-speaking countries at the United Nations’ General Assembly. He used to say, “If you don’t lie, you never need to remember what you said” and “A liar, a crook, and a thief are all in the same place.”
I had a mother who was a businesswoman. She ran her own beauty salon, Lucy's Hair Stylist in New York. She knew what it meant to work hard and do honest business.
My parents had worked hard, and raised me and my siblings with a strong sense of right and wrong. I couldn’t get on board with what these guys were telling us.
And so it came out: “You guys are crazy.”
The room was silent. Guys were still looking at me, you know, like, “What did you do?”
So I kept talking.
“You’re asking people who have been with you for years to be unethical.”
Management didn’t like that.
“No, we didn’t ask that.”
“Yeah, you did,” I said. “You pretty much did.”
They didn’t like that either.
“You can excuse yourself from this meeting,” they said.
And so I did.