$288.00 for LABOR?!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Okay, really, I am a good driver but I always drive little, low profile cars so those damned curbs just kind of pop up on you. So, I didn't mention this earlier but when I was in Ybor and leaving the parking garage I must've driven up on the wheelchair ramp while making a too-tight right-hand turn and crunched down on the sidewalk. I told my husband about it but didn't think anything of it until I was driving home from Tampa and suddenly, my car sounded like a 747 taking off! No amount of volume on the music drowned it out!
So, after taking my husband for a spin so he (w/ his non-mechanic skills) tells me "It's not the engine. It's the tire. You must've done SOMETHING when you hit that sidewalk". So, I bypass my dealership and head to Tires Plus where I had purchased my tires less than 10,000 miles ago last February.
Verdict: 2 bald front tires because I hadn't rotated them every 3,000 miles, a nail in the passenger rear tire, a busted ball bearing in the front axle; $886+tax. Oh! And by the way, the axle MAY be busted but we won't know until AFTER we do all the work. Thought I'd have a nervous breakdown. Tax return isn't in. I just spent all of my business spoils on new photography equipment and...NO! THIS CAN'T BE HAPPENING TO ME RIGHT NOW! And WHY OH WHY?...WHY am I driving this car? Yes, German made where I was raised, but my VW fit better into my budget!
As it turned out, the axle was fine, I got a discount on my tires and the bill was 'ONLY' $750.00. Funny how we can put things in perspective! I'm confident it would've been thousands had it been my axle as well! (Am I even spelling axle correctly?!)
So, I peruse the invoice when I get home and notice a $288.00 labor charge. This was barely less than what I paid for parts for the ball bearing issue. hmmm... I'm aggravated and then ...LIGHTBULB.
This mechanic drove my son and I home from the shop in his personal vehicle so we wouldn't have to hang out there. (Now, I know he had to wait for the parts to arrive but still---awful nice, and of course I asked if he needed family/childrens' photos and handed him my business card! ) And then, he uses HIS tools and software, he invested his money and time in educating himself in his craft, probably suffered through apprenticeships, familiarized himself with a plethora of models of vehicles and is ultimately responsible for sending the customer home safe, healthy and happy for the sake of the big box tire store who certainly collects a great percentage of that labor charge.
Our careers and livelihoods ARE an investment. Whether we continue on our journey through college/trade school or apprenticeships---or LIKE ME: taking the time (LOTS AND LOTS OF TIME) researching, finding every avenue possible to gain the knowledge...it's our investment and ultimately, it is worth something.
I don't have any fancy affiliations (can't afford to join those groups...YET!). I haven't been to PPA, WPPI nor do I own Adobe CS program. I'm not formally educated in photography nor the software. I've never used a MAC (really!) I don't have all of the fancy top-of-the-line-tools and toys. I can tell you that I do have long-term goals and strive for all of it. I price myself accordingly and hope to build a following and that entrusts me with their portrait memories the way I entrusted that mechanic with our safety in my car.
Could I afford $288.00 on labor in addition to the parts that were neccessary to get me back on the road? NO. Not at all. But is all that he gave to me worth it? ABSOLUTELY!
I know I underprice myself and my industry but, quite frankly, I just want to take pictures.
But, yeah, labor is more than that time behind the camera, much like that mechanic today. Thanks Ray Torres----I get it! 
Oh! And by the way, I'll look out for those sidewalks FOR SURE!
WHAT a Monday!


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