Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Have you ever noticed how new shoes always have tangled, knotted, or halfway tied laces? It seems to me if the person inserting the laces had the time to make a mess out of them, he or she would also have the time to go ahead and do it right. In fact, you would think the manufacturer of the shoes would insist that their products leave the door in perfect condition. As with all products for sale, presentation is everything. Besides, I hate having to take the time to un-knot new shoelaces, then lace them properly myself.
Perhaps the problem with shoelaces is actually a fundamental dilemma with our whole American attitude toward work. Is there a work ethic in this country anymore? Several recent discoveries point to what I tend to believe is a basic laziness in our workforce.
First, workers who are consistently tardy are now defined as being “nocturnally challenged.” What? Yes, according to the latest research, babies born in the wee hours of the morning may be predisposed to tardiness because they were born at night! Their circadian clock is supposedly set at birth causing them to be alert at nighttime and drowsy during the day. Therefore, even though it hasn’t been said yet, people who were born at night should not lose their jobs over constant tardiness if they must work during the day. I feel the lawsuits coming on already. Remember, you heard it here first!
Second, you’ve probably learned that California is planning to force businesses to allow employees six months family leave with full pay, so they may take care of injured, aged or sick family members without having to worry about their job. I expect the rest of the country to follow suit – we always do – eventually. Do you think shoe manufacturers will be able to absorb this level of expense without raising prices on shoelaces to cover the cost? I’m sure we’re in for a bit more inflation over this one, especially when all the deadbeats begin to figure out ways of getting all that leave time without consequences.
                Third, how long has it been since you’ve met a truly professional salesperson? There aren’t very many. In my industry, I can count on one hand the number of top salespeople I’ve seen in the past twenty years. Most salespeople need lessons on how to tie their own shoelaces. Yes, I’m being facetious. But, the problem is most salespeople do not have the gumption to do what it takes to be top sellers. I’ve railed that salespeople should learn to sell their products by increasing product knowledge and learning better techniques. As a class, salespeople are inherently lazy in this respect. Learning is hard work, you know.
Fourth, I haven’t been to a fast food restaurant in recent history that has truly good service. I don’t blame the restaurant owners for not being able to find competent help. Of course, they offer mostly entry level jobs, which are held by teenagers during the summer, and minimum wage earners the rest of the time. Does that give low-paid employees the excuse to make a client repeat an order ten times and still get it wrong, or shoot out poorly presented food that tastes like grease and sour shoelaces? Of course not! Yet, it happens all the time. At the very basis, this attitude comes from parents not teaching their kids the value of doing a good job. This also comes from the belief that just because a job has a low wage attached, that somehow employees don’t have to work as hard. As the bad guy said in the famous John Wayne movie, Rooster Cogburn, “You take my money, you wear my brand!” In other words, don’t be lazy when you’re being paid to work, don’t be unfaithful in fulfilling your obligations to your employer no matter what the job may be. Take responsibility for the fact you took the job, do what you’ve been assigned to do, do it well, and eventually get better pay and a promotion for a job well done.
Finally, I resent that my shoelaces may increase in price because of the general laziness pervading our workforce. I’m especially raw that I have to untangle the knotted mess left by some slacker on an assembly line in addition. Why don’t I buy another brand of shoes, you ask? I’ve searched in vain for some that are better.
Whatever happened to “Made in America” standing for only the best in quality and workmanship? Since when did we allow ourselves to expect more without putting forth the effort to get it? We are a land of plenty built on the hard labor of our ancestors. But, the legacy can only be stretched so far. Too many want too much without putting forth enough. My suggestion is to once again learn how to tie our shoelaces properly so we may run without floundering. I would hate to see our good American Way of Life lost simply because we got lazy.

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