“This one time, at band camp,” is a famous line you may remember from the movie American Pie.  Although the narrative, as it pertains to this article goes as such, “this one time, in residential”. 

I remember being a student at trade school and hunting for a job as a helper for summer work, I landed a position at a small outfit in the city I grew up in.  They did residential service and install and had a sheet metal shop on site, something I don’t see much anymore.  I would show up daily and be put into a truck as a helper or observer, more of an observer I would say, because at the age of nineteen I had zero tool wielding skills or the wherewithal to ask the right questions.  


I remember hating install days as it was a race to the finish and the installer I worked with wreaked of black iron threading oil, booze and coffee.  He drove a five ton truck that had a pipe threader permanently installed in the back and it was equipped with every fitting and pipe size imaginable, I thought this was quite impressive.  I remember he asked me to core through a concrete foundation with his hammer drill, he set it up and showed me how to use it.  I began drilling, but shortly into the task the drill got caught up, I let it go and the drill body rotated on the bit and clocked me in the chin.  In retrospect, I was probably concussed and very lucky that my jaw wasn’t dislocated.  It wasn’t a few hours later, I was carrying a length of pipe down to the basement and accidentally smashed the customer’s window, let’s just say no one was impressed.  That day, I made it a point to never become an installer, yes probably an immature decision based on my emotions, but nonetheless a scar I haven’t forgotten.  


Service days were cool, I usually teamed up with a relatively young tech in his late 20’s, he was upbeat and smart and his truck was super clean.  We would hit up five to six calls a day but wouldn’t rush through, I somewhat enjoyed the pace, the problem solving aspect, and diverse issues that we came across.  I knew if I was going to move forward in the trade, it was a service tech I wanted to be.  

The Type Of Work I Enjoy 

I respect every nook and cranny of the HVAC/R industry, residential included.  As for me, landing a job in the commercial world was more of a fit.  Landing a job as future commercial service tech was a step closer to the perfect placement.  Moral of the story, it is okay to experience different industry niches until you find the right one.  Sometimes it takes a near knock out punch from a Rigid hammer drill and broken window to realize it.  Happy HVACing 

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Gary McCreadie

Gary McCreadie is an HVAC tech, the creator of hvacknowitall.com, the HVAC Know It All Podcast, and owner of McCreadie HVAC & Refrigeration Services

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HVAC Know It All was created by Gary McCreadie, a licensed refrigeration and gas technician, with three goals in mind:
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