josh nascarThe bell rings twice as I pull into the Santa Maria Jiffy Lube. Immediately I am greeted by the Courtesy Technician and whisked away into the plush waiting room. Behind me, a team of six is at the ready to service my car with the goal of completing my oil change in 10 minutes or less. Only this time I am not their customer, nor am I their IT Consultant – I am their temporary teammate. Mario, the franchise manager, lets the team know I am here to learn, and they are eager to teach me.

You can watch the team at work through the windows of the waiting room, and after checking in I join them. My tour begins in the pit where I meet the Lower Bay Technician – who drains the oil, checks the steering mechanics (called bushings), and usually changes the oil filters. These guys are the gnomes of the operation – working behind the scenes quickly whisking away the dark sludge waste from your car all from their subterranean vantage point.

Meanwhile above the pit, the Team Leader conducts this orchestra of flesh and steel. Up first is the Customer Service Operator walks customers through their options: regular or synthetic oil, new wipers, cabin air filter, and possibly a spritz of new car smell to seal the deal. Next the Upper Bay Technician puts air in the tires, adds the oil, replaces the air filter, all the while calling down to the Lower Bay Technician during each step of the process to keep communication flowing and safety a priority.

Once I get briefed on the process, I change into the standard issue Jiffy Lube polo, don safety glasses and take my position as the second Upper Technician. The first car rolls in and I spring into action. I guide the car in the bay, pop the hood and attach magnetic aprons to the front fenders. I check headlights, blinkers, fluid levels, shout out part numbers, grab the air hose and make rounds to each tire all to the soundtrack of the Courtesy Tech who is busy vacuuming the interior of the car.

I install the new filters, add the oil, and call down to the Lower Bay Technician that we are ready to start the car. The car runs for at least a full minute – and we check all indicator lights and inspect the engine for leaks. The team gives an “all clear” and we kill the engine. As my final act, I pull the dipstick and present it to my Team Leader to demonstrate I added the proper amount of oil and await her final judgment. She smiles and gives me a thumbs up!

NASCAR here I come!

All this in a hurried but totally synchronized 11 minutes. Together we completed a job that would normally take me a couple of hours on my own (especially without the convenience of a pit). Time slows back down to normal as I fondly watch the car I serviced drive away.

As I get in my car to leave, the bell rings twice and like a pit crew the team is ready.

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.

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Joshua Erdman, was born and raised in Clovis, CA just outside of Fresno.  After graduating High School he attended Reedley City College then transferred to Cal Poly, majoring in Mechanical Engineering.  That spring he changed his major to Computer Science and at the age of 20 obtained an internship in Van Nuys at Anheuser-Busch in the Information Technology department that summer.  Being the youngest guy on the plant, he was reminded daily from his co-workers that although he couldn’t try their product he was free to explore the plant. 

Following his internship he began work at a website development company and quickly moved up the ranks to Systems Administrator and as the company grew, Joshua Erdman was appointed as the Department Manager.

In February of 2003, Joshua Erdman left to start his own IT Managed Services company.  11 years later he merged with TekTegrity to focus more on his family.  He now works for TekTegrity as their senior consultant and is and active volunteer at Softec  where he most recently served as president.