The end of April, 2011. I was fresh out of my entry level trades training in Vancouver. I had taken a year of diesel engine technology, at the British Columbia Institute of technology. I was very confident, and eager to get the ball rolling on this exciting new career. I had studied hard and gotten top marks in the class. Feeling like I was a journeyman, in reality I was no more than a broom technician.

I had landed a job on the other side of the country, a shop where my cousin worked as a welder. I showed up the first day gung-ho with a very small collection of tools, mostly amassed from garage sales and discount bins. I was ready to take on the world. It took me up until about maybe lunch time on that first day, to realise, I knew nothing. My heart sank.

My eight months of technical training had certainly taught me the basics, the difference between a hammer and a wrench, how important torque specs are, and standard safety stuff among other things. It’s all well and good to read about mechanics in a book, but to put it all into practice is a different story. By the end of that first week I managed to empty a lot of garbage bins, keep the floor spotless, and the highlight-install an airbag! Slowly the days dragged on, weeks turning into months, I was learning.

I picked up the basics, break jobs, oil changes, and minor electrical issues. Soon came the time came for me to head back to school for my first year apprenticeship training, where I would learn about the things I just spent the last year and a half learning about on the shop floor.