Mom, i got a job In a chop shop!

Reflecting upon my first "job".

4y ago

In the mid 1980's I was in high school. And I, as most of my friends, wanted nothing more than to get my drivers license. In order to be able to drive I needed to be able to contribute to paying the astronomical cost of car insurance. So off I went in search of the local salt mine.

As luck would have it one day my auto shop teacher came into class one day and yelled out "Does anyone need a job? Some guy came in here looking for some help at some racing place something or other." Yes, he was always one for details.

Does anyone need a job? Some guy came in here looking for some help at some racing place something or other.

That was all I needed to hear. I'm sure it was a going to be a great job, right? After all the school sent us over right? Off we went, a friend and I headed down.

This shop was located at the other end of town. It was within an industrial complex of garages that were 3 or 4 cars deep, had a small "office" in the front, and had a two room apartment above. I remember that it was actually kind of a nice space for a small shop just getting off the ground.

In the shop there were were numerous vehicles in various states of disrepair, or disassembly rather. I saw a 1956 Thunderbird, a 1966 Mustang both in mint condition. Even what looked like the body of a 1956 Corvette mysteriously hanging from the ceiling. This was gonna be great I thought!

Mysterious man in the van

Mysterious man in the van

Our instructions from the boss man were simple. Take this engine out of that car, and put it into that car. Take the truck over there full of fenders, and misc. parts and take them to the landfill. Seemed simple, and to a couple of naive high school kids looking for extra money after school it was perfect. Only it wasn't.

One holiday, when we didn't have school at all, we worked a long day. Late in the morning I noticed a man sitting across the street in a van reading a newspaper. I didn't think much of it, but then noticed he was still there hours later. Maybe he was stuck on the crossword puzzle of the week I thought. So after a long day of part swapping, home we went.

Maybe he was stuck on the crossword puzzle of the week I thought.

A couple of days later we reported back to the shop after school for another afternoon of work. The bossman brought us into his "office" and informed us that the day prior (which luckily we were not working a shift) the police paid he and his partner a visit and arrested them both. Turns out most if not all of the vehicles we were working on were stolen. Apparently he was out on bail, but still gave us our final paycheck (what a guy!). At this point my racing heart was now in my throat.

A few days later, I came home from school to find a police detective at my house waiting for me. He sat at the kitchen table with me, with no parents present mind you, and asked me no less than a million questions. But it all came down to this; when the bossman was arrested he and his partner were also apparently selling drugs.

Oh this school job just gets better and better.

When they were arrested the partners tried to implicate me and my friend, as we had keys to the shop. Apparently the look of complete disbelief was evident on my face as the detective laughed, and clearly saw that a naive scared high school kid had absolutely nothing to do with this little venture.

In the end nothing ever came of it for my friend and I aside from having a rather harrowing tale of an after school job. As for the owners of the "shop", well I can't say. I suspect their careers were over.

Me? I moved on from my brief chop shop career vowing then and there to always think twice before I consider another job offer from my school auto shop teacher. Oh, but what a story it made.

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