There appears to be a universal sign among mechanics that involves throwing up a single finger—and it’s not the one that you’re probably expecting. It turns out that mechanics love flashing the thumbs up, or at least that’s what stock photo websites want you to believe.
Type in “mechanic thumbs up” on Google images and you will find a disturbing number of photos that show well-groomed dudes in spotless coveralls flashing a flawless smile and tossing out a casual thumbs-up. Every picture is essentially just the Fonz standing in front of a car with the hood open—which is about as far as you can get from reality.
The last time I saw a mechanic express anything that even remotely resembled a smile, it was because he had his hands full and was forced to use his lips and some head jerks to try and readjust the cigarette hanging from his mouth. Also, unless his hair happened to also be his grease rag that day, I’m going to assume that showering before every shift wasn’t exactly one of his top priorities.
Other mechanic stock photo image searches turned up some more misleading results. It turns out that whoever is holding these photo shoots not only think mechanics are the happiest people on earth, but they also know jack shit about fixing cars. That is unless you also believe that every automotive repair can be addressed with an impractically-oversized wrench or a clipboard. Don’t forget that smile.
My faith in stock photos was slightly restored when I Googled “mechanic cigarette” and got about eight relevant results, including a stock photo of a rebellious looking teenager in a backwards trucker hat puffing on a cigarette in front of a vintage American flag in a garage. Now we’re getting somewhere.
Arguably the greatest part of what I will call the ‘Murica-nized mechanic comes from the description of the photo, part of which reads, “Man with fictitious name of Ismael smoking cigarette in garage in front of old truck.” In an effort to avoid copyright issues we’re not posting the photo (it’s available for a reasonable $73.00 if you’re looking for something to spice up the living room), but we can assure you that Ismael is about the least-fitting name for this guy.
I’d really like to know who the geniuses behind these stock photo websites are. I’m going to assume that they’re close acquaintances with the screenwriters of every reality-distorting teen movie in existence. You know, the ones that show high school as a cliche-laden prison full of jocks and smokin’ hot cheerleaders. In fact, Google “high school stock photo” and you will find that most stock photo photographers seem to have drawn inspiration directly from those movies. It’s a sick world we live in.
Oh, and since I know you were really concerned about it, Ismael has been downloaded a total of five times.