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Uncle Milt's Body Shop This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   It all started in the summer of 1999 after my dad's storewent out of business. I had little money so I set out to find a job. The secondplace I stopped was Uncle Milt's Body Shop, and, boy, was I in for atreat.

At first, it seemed like any other shop. I put in my applicationand had a tour, followed by a handshake and a job. I came in the next day, andafter the first hour it didn't seem so normal. Milt was yelling, screaming andsinging made-up tunes that followed the beat of whatever golden oldies song wasblaring on the radio. I felt like an outcast for the first few months, just doingwhat I was told and observing the strange behaviors of myco-workers

Everyone has his own way of doing things. Carl keeps busy forabout an hour, then takes a short break, unless he is having trouble withsomething. Then he'll get madder and madder until he finally starts cursing andyelling at whatever he is fixing. If it gets really bad, he will eventually throwthings and storm off until he calms down.

Cory is stubborn, and takes noguff from anyone. He works hard the whole time and if something doesn't go hisway, he'll muscle it until it either breaks or works out.

Milt is in acategory all his own. His way of working changes with his mood. If happy, he willwork casually but consistently. If he is mad, he doesn't take it out on the car,but on the people in the shop. If he breaks something, he is the first to admitit was funny.

I'm the scrub of the outfit and usually take the aggressionaway from the other guys. I know my abilities are not close to those of theothers, but I have improved and now know them so well that they want me around asa means of support more than for my work. I pull my own weight, and then some,considering they make 12 times more than I do, although there are times whenthings don't go my way and I mess up something big.

The body shop has twopaint rooms, one big and one small, for whole vehicles or just parts. There arethree tool boxes: Carl's, Cory's and Milt's. I use Milt's because I guess I'm notgood enough to have a box of my own. The shop's capacity is 12 vehicles,jam-packed. There is a corner for the air compressors and oddball tools. Milt's1957 Chevy Belair also sits in that corner. He was supposed to have that thingdone, but it still sits in boxes like it has for the past 15 years. The shop hastwo bathrooms, both of which I get the privilege of cleaning. The lot out backhad been filled up with all sorts of junk and old cars until last year when Icleaned it out for the new paint room we were supposed to get, but neverdid.

The shop has seen many near-fatal accidents in its day. Five yearsago the building burned to the ground from a still-unknown source. Recently Miltwas welding on a passenger door post and something inside caught fire, engulfingthe truck in smoke. The whole shop stunk like burnt rubber. It took 10 minutes ofsoaking the inside of the pickup to extinguish the flame, and after the wholething was over, Milt broke out in his strange but hilarious laugh.

Anothermishap happened when someone brought an air compressor to have a steel platewelded onto the bottom. We had to bend the plate to fit the curve. Milt tackedthe two ends and everything went badly after that. I was standing on the platewith a blowtorch heating it up while he pounded it with a sledgehammer. We hadone side done when the head of the hammer flew between my legs, across the shopand slammed into a 1999 Ford Taurus' window, shattering it.

The shop and Iare starting to build a good history together, one that I hope will continue formany years. If some other job paying twice as much came around, I would probablyturn it down without thinking twice. It's like getting paid to have fun, and Ican't wait to go to work every day.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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