There are lots of nicknames for mechanics. Maybe the best known one of all time is grease monkey. Be sure to read the funny replies to this post and leave a comment at the end of this article about your favorite nicknames for car mechanics. What got me thinking about this subject was watching a rerun of the Battle Star Galactica series.
I heard a good reference towards the mechanics that worked on the spacecraft. The mechanics are called knuckle draggers amongst themselves and the crew. The interesting thing was these futuristic fantasy sci-fi mechanics wore the nickname with pride. They were proud to be covered with dirt and work hard.
They hung out with other spacecraft mechanics and didn’t associate much with the officers, pilots or the general public because these people often misunderstood them. I found it interesting because whether you’re working on spacecraft, automobiles, heavy machinery or military vehicles mechanics pretty much have the same mindset.
Often us knuckle draggers have an analytic thought process accompanied with a high degree of mechanical aptitude and hand eye coordination. We fix the things that other people drive and want to know what happens after the key is turned. The interesting thing about car mechanics is not only do they have nicknames provided by the outside world, they also assign nicknames for mechanics inside the business.
Mechanics Call Each Other What
It’s true that the public will have its popular nicknames for mechanics like grease monkey or motor head but there are some other good names shared between mechanics. One that comes to mind is gravy lapper. The term gravy lapper is used to describe a mechanic that is only interested in easy to perform maintenance services that pay well. This is most often when the mechanics are paid on a flat rate basis and compete for the next job. Flat rate basically translates into the employee is paid by the job instead of by the hour.
It can be a double edge sword as they make money and lose money depending on the situation. Gravy would be a term applied to jobs that have a high likelihood of being performed under the flat rate time providing a juicy profit with less physical effort. The Gravy Lapper will usually try to dodge bigger jobs such as engine replacements or prolonged complicated electrical diagnosis that might pay only straight time slowing profits down.
Often the gravy Lapper needs some support from upper management in the form of a service manager or work dispatcher. I have worked with mechanics that have painted the service manager’s house or performed free services on the dispatcher’s family vehicles to assure a steady flow of gravy. The next nickname for a mechanic would be used to describe someone for lack of a better term might be thought of as crazy or unusual. No matter what business you’re in you may find some off-the-wall people (it makes life interesting). When they are a crazy mechanic they might be referred to as a wing-nut by other wrenches.
Well there is another nickname for mechanics. People in the auto repair business often say they have been turning wrenches for 26 years. They may also say they have spun a wrench. This is a somewhat neutral term because its meaning is determined by the words in front of or behind it. People in the business might say he is a good wrench. General Motors liked it so much they coined the phrase.
They didn’t come up with it on their own, they heard it thrown about the shop to describe good mechanics. People at General Motors dealers due to a training film put out in the good wrench line of in house training movies might refer to a careless mechanic as a slip wrench. Johnny slip wrench or Billy slip wrench whatever their first name was followed by the term slip wrench can be used in a derogatory manner.
As a mechanic that has turned a wrench for more than 25 years I have met all kinds of good people in this business. Some of my best friends still do it for a living and some have left it for greener pastures. In my opinion it takes a special person to walk up to a disassembled engine pile and not only put it together, but have it running like a clock when it’s completed.
I spent some time as a used car mechanic at an upscale lot across from some gentleman’s clubs. The business specialized in selling German cars with over 100K miles. It was my job to keep these cars alive until the end of the five year payment plan. I became known as the car Doctor. Then we started calling the cars patients and since they were German the staff started calling me Herr Doctor. I never forget the sound of that over the intercom. “Herr Doctor line 1 please”.
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