Archive for April, 2013

A bit of a rant.

April 28, 2013 Leave a comment

“Yeah, of course…it’s what I live for…fixing other people’s $h!t for free.”

-Sarcastic Amish guy.

Brother, you said it.

I was thinking about this when a prospective customer was surprised at what I was going to charge him to pressure wash his driveway and patios.  He figured that a fellow doing this would be paid $20/hour and he’s right.  The problem is that he’s only considering paying the man.

Who pays for insurance or maintenance and depreciation costs on tools and vehicles?  There’s the time getting the equipment from my shop to his home and back again.  Shouldn’t I, or the man I hire, be paid for doing this?  Because $20/hour is what he’ll make off me and that leaves no money for my costs.  I’d love to be able to do things for free but I have a family and bills of my own so I’ll leave administrating welfare to the provincial government.

You pay an employee a little to perform a task and you pay a contractor to deal with everything required.  That prospective customer wants a contractor at employee prices and he either doesn’t see the extra cost behind the scenes that’s needed to make a basic cleaning job happen or he does but wants it for free; either ignorant or dishonest.  So he wants a fellow to work for him for $20/hour and only pay him while on site and he’ll probably find one.  Paying a lot for something doesn’t guarantee quality but paying less guarantees problems; let’s hope the $20/hour option has insurance in case he falls; that he has a large enough machine to get the job done in a timely manner.

In spite of this rant I’m not angry that he’s going with someone cheaper; I’d rather not spend my time working hard to break even.  I’ve never lost money on a job I didn’t accept and I’ll spend that time searching for better customers.

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I prefer to laugh.

April 20, 2013 Leave a comment

When I think of the rationalization of criminal behavior I don’t think of something so cerebral as Raskolnikov struggling with the theory of an extraordinary man but rather of The Simpsons:
Bart:  Uh, say, are you guys crooks?

Fat Tony:  Bart, is it wrong to steal a loaf of bread to feed your starving family?

Bart:  No.

Fat Tony:  Well, suppose you got a large starving family.  Is it wrong to steal a truckload of bread to feed them?

Bart:  Uh uh.

Fat Tony:  And, what if your family don’t like bread? They like… cigarettes?

Bart:  I guess that’s okay.

Fat Tony:  Now what if, instead of giving them away, you sold them at a price that was practically giving them away.  Would that be a crime, Bart?

Bart:  Hell, no.

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Passive aggression at work.

April 14, 2013 Leave a comment

I was talking with a friend about passive aggression in the workplace today and he has what I think is a wrong-minded view.  Consider this scenario:

A worker is assembling a mechanical device but forgets a critical step, such as installing a certain o-ring, and a co-worker sees the error but says nothing.  Whose fault is it?

My friend’s view is this:  The bottom line is that the worker who did the improper work is totally responsible because they performed improper work.

I’ve seen people take the view that in this scenario the worker doing the faulty work should be absolutely absolved because another saw his mistake and did nothing but I think this is wrong-minded as well.

My thought is that the worker in this scenario is responsible for the bad work they did, and it needs to be appropriately addressed, but the MUCH bigger problem is the passive aggression of the other worker; their inaction caused the company harm and they cannot be trusted.

Workplace bullying gets plenty of attention but it seems to me that passive aggressive behavior is a very serious problem that largely remains covert.

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Punch lists….being a whipping boy AND a fink.

April 7, 2013 Leave a comment

I’m changing jobs next week and have been reminiscing about my work life this morning.  One thought was how, over the years, I’ve often been given the job of dealing with deficiency lists.

You have to be thorough and often bear the brunt of the criticism about your employer.  You have to be able to swallow your pride and keep your temper while  having to fix everything, deal with unhappy customers while defending the reputation of your employer and fellow workmen; never blaming others or making excuses; focusing on the fact that it’s being made right.

Another part of it that isn’t fun is when you’re sent in to check jobs before the owner or general contractor inspects the work for themselves; it has to be documented and your work order is a report to the boss which contains a list of things that your coworkers have done wrong; you run the risk of being a labelled a tattletale.

There’s no glory or gratitude given for doing this kind of work yet most workmen can’t or won’t do it.


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What’s the word for a fear of homophobia?

April 7, 2013 Leave a comment

I was thinking about the time I was doing some work at a man’s home  in a nice neighbourhood and we talked while I worked.  I commented it was handy that he could be home during business hours and he said that he worked out of the house.  I didn’t see any signage and assumed he was a telecommuter of some type and asked what kind of work he did.

It was clear he didn’t want to answer that question.  He became rather nervous but after a moment quietly said that he, “cut and styled womens’ hair.”  When I asked him if the work was rewarding and provided a good living for his family he let out a sharp exhalation and said yes; he had been holding his breath.  Wow.

He warmed up again, just as quickly as he’d become quiet and nervous, and we talked more about his work.  I didn’t ask but did wonder about what kind of crap he has put up with over the years to make him reluctant to tell people how he pays the bills.



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A place for neglect?

April 4, 2013 Leave a comment

I was thinking about the time I oiled the hinges of the gate in a yard where I worked.  I was opening up one morning and the lock was stiff so I pulled out my oil can and while I was at it, did the hinges too.  After a shot of oil the hinges were so smooth that the gate opened with the lightest touch….and wouldn’t stay open if there was any breeze.

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