Riding the Bike with One Pedal.


I’m going to try to write a blog post today in the vein and spirit of an ad colleague I admire greatly – Mr. Sam Meers. He writes great observations on business practices, pulling from ordinary life experiences. I hope I do justice to his style today.

One of the things that has bugged my husband to no end over the years is when we’ll drive by an office building in the evening, and the automatic sprinklers are bursting out water…..in the rain. Or the day following a rain. He’s right, of course. It’s incredibly wasteful. My problem-solving brain ponders this every so often.  I’ve wondered why these automatic sprinkler systems don’t seem to have some sort of moisture-content trigger, rather than a timer. Or at least an employee designated to switch them over to “manual” during periods of heavy rain (like we’ve had the past two weeks – 12+ inches!)

Today, I glanced out my window and saw that the shady side of my building was a congregation area for all the young punk geese who are unicolor and fluffy and awkwardly gaggling about while their parents keep watch and let them feed. I decided to get a closer look, and walked around my desk to stand right up against the floor-to-ceiling windows. I needed to see over the row of hedges, and indeed, there were a whole bunch of birds, some chilling out, some nibbling.
And then I felt it.
A burst of hot air.
From the baseboard heater that runs along the length of the windows.

It’s in the 90’s here. Fahrenheit.

Mind you, I have a thermostat in my office, and it’s set at the lowest setting possible, because I’ve noticed it just never seems to cool down. Gee. No wonder. So we have a call in to maintenance, and soon I’ll stop wondering if I’m going through early menopause every afternoon.

It made me think, though, how much money is wasted by such simple, common-sense practices. You don’t run a space heater at home while you crank down the a/c, do you? Because not only does it cost money, it’s silly. We’re grateful for the rain (in moderation), because it means less watering. This building has been paying for more electricity, because they don’t come through and turn the heaters off when the seasons change. The a/c works twice as hard, less effectively. Boy, I’ve had jobs like that. Doing something the same way as always, because a boss doesn’t want to question the client or the process or suggest a different way of doing things.

Contraindication is used mostly in medical terms, but it certainly applies to situations like I’ve described. It could also apply to a certain oil company who is under the microscope right now, and needs to portray an image of dedication to undoing the worst ecological disaster, ever. Such a visible leader/representative of the company might want to take a break, say, to watch his yacht race, but that would be contraindicated, because it sends the message, hey, I’m going to spend some time on a sport most of you cannot relate to AND I’m not spending time on the disaster that happened on my watch. Tony Hayward, I get it. I bet your life sucks really, really badly right now. You want your old life back. Guess what, it’s not going to happen for a long time. As long as there are tar balls and people wondering when their car’s going to get repossessed because their livelihood was taken away from them, you have to maintain at least the appearance of diligence. No fun for you until your chores are done, that’s how I was raised.

And as for businesses who cut staff and make the ‘survivors’ work harder, and tell them they’re expendable, while keeping spouses on payrolls? One place you might find some extra money is in your landscaping budget. Or your own pocket. Berating and punishing contraindicates a productive work environment. People are your greatest asset, and how you treat them during the bad times, when they want to hang on to their jobs, will serve you when the tide turns. Will you see mass exodus? Or devoted loyalty? The tides are turning in the job market, slowly but surely, and I’ll have my own schadenfreude moments when I see trapped friends finally able to burst free and go someplace new.

Me, I’m in a good spot, thankfully. Life is pretty darned good. Apart from the extra heat.

UPDATE: Since I started/finished this post, Tony Hayward got sacked from being the point person on this oil spill. Hope the new dude learns from his predecessor. I am available for common-sense consulting, should you need it.

1 Comment

  1. shannon in oregon

    very well said. the sprinkler thing drives me batshit crazy! well, that is what i am saying drove me there…

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