I'm listening to a book that has two jobs I've had

and I'm snorting and woofling and wheezing as I listen.

I mean, tchah. It would have taken fifteen minutes of talking to someone, or even watching them at work, to get this right.

1. Yarn shop employee There's a lot of yarn shop action featured in this woman's books. And there's also much talk about how a character has to wait and wait weeks to learn to knit because the yarn shop owner hasn't set up knitting classes and the poor woman running the shop is too exhausted to teach the classes. Excuse me? Learning to knit isn't rocket science.

I worked in a yarn shop for a couple of years and I would teach 3-10 people a DAY the basics of knitting. People who'd never been in a yarn shop before would wander in on impulse, and if I wasn't wildly busy, I'd show them how easy it was to knit and teach them how. We had grubby skeins of yarn and needles by the cash register just for that purpose. Of course we'd do that--otherwise we would have lost half our sales. Well, maybe not half.

We did have special classes in the basics because they were fun and because people liked to socialize. But there's no way I'd ask a customer to wait for weeks to learn to cast-on and do the basic knit stitch while I got the energy together to set up a class. My manager would have killed me.

Plus the fictional woman who runs the fictional shop never ever seems to spend a minute of time putting skeins back on shelves after customers put them in the wrong spot or disarranged a nice display. That was a big chunk of the job right there. Cleaning up after the customers.

2. Car repair service manager. In this book, there's a man who put himself through school to be a mechanic. After years he's worked his way up to....SERVICE MANAGER! Ta DA! No excuse, like the female who's attracted to him got the title wrong, because, dude, that's how he introduced himself.

Um. The service managers are the lowest of the low in the shop. Okay, maybe the parts manager is lower. But not much. A service manager has to know how long a repair will take--and there's a grubby oil-smeared book that spells that out for him (probably grubby oil-smeared computer now. We had flipping fiche machines). He doesn't have to know how to do the repairs.

He or she has to answer phones, take appointments, pump brakes when needed, sometimes change oil if a mechanic is too busy. No way a garage with more than a few people on staff would ask a fancy trained, well-paid mechanic to take the job of scheduling maintainance appointments or listen to customers ranting.

It's a job of groveling to the customer AND the mechanics, with only some passive-aggressive power. At the start of the day, over coffee he or she has to describe jobs and symptoms to the professionals and beg picky mechanics to take particularly badly-paid jobs. Of course if the mechanics weren't careful, and didn't pay attention at those meetings. they'd get landed with the icky jobs--the ones that always take longer than the scheduling book says they will--there's the passive aggressive part. I was only an assistant service manager, though I took over a few times when Andre went on vacation. (I sucked at it)

I did scheduling, answered phones and did parts runs. That last part of the job meant I got to see that the system in our garage was pretty much the norm, No way someone would use a skilled mechanic as a service manager. Even over at the big dealer, where the manager wielded more power than Andre and I (we worked for owner/mechanics), the service manager was merely a go-between, keeping the customer and the mechanics from actually having to deal with each other.

I guess the word "manager" makes the job look impressive. It's more like a character in a book talking about working as a hair stylist and announcing that, after years of work, she's landed the job of receptionist.

Anyway. Are you asleep yet? The moral of the rant is finally here:
If you're going to describe the day-to-day life of professions in books, particularly common ones, it's smart to know the basics. Of course she's a gazillion-books-out famous author and I'm not--so me telling her how to do HER job is kind of funny.


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