Volume 45, Issue 8 - October  2006

The Window Guy

Lessons You Can’t Learn in School
Success in the Real World Depends on Principals
by R. Mark Reasbeck

One of the advantages of writing this column is knowing its target audience is mostly people like me. This means that you are one bubble off plumb, if you have made a career in the door and window industry. Hopefully you are shaking your head in agreement when you read what I put down on paper. In this industry, we communicate with people nationwide and, in our local markets, we network with folks in other trades. 

I have made note that in the midst of those conversations, there seems to be a universal thread that ties them all together. “Why can’t we find dependable, self starting, reliable, on time help that takes pride in their work?”

Thanks Dad
My next birthday will allow me to get a Grand-Slam breakfast at Denny’s for a discount, so I have learned some life lessons along the way. Two of the absolutes I learned from my dad. While working as a laborer for him as a kid they actually got lodged in my brain. The first principle was that if you are hired to sweep floors, sweep them better than anyone else, someone will notice and you won’t be sweeping floors for long. I could testify in my working career that this is true all of the time. 

Starting and owning my own business is proof of the process. The second principle is, “It all pays the same.” Dad got it through to me that when you hire on for a wage, you take the good with the bad. This taught me that you shouldn’t place a value on a task. In other words, cleaning a restroom holds the same glamour as unpacking appliances, scrapping out lumber or running errands for the boss, because he pays your wages. According to conversations I have had with business owners and managers, these two principles aren’t even on the radar screen. What happened? 

Now I Know my ABC’s
Or do we? Just today, on the way to work, I heard a radio commercial promoting a sale on large screen TV’s. The announcer screamed (you know like it was a WWF free-for-all match) that you could take 10 percent off of any large screen TV in stock. He went on to say, “What that means to you is if you purchase a $2,500 TV, you get $250 off.” 

Why does this have to be explained? One of my favorites is a help wanted ad that I saw placed by a competitor in an employment newspaper. They were seeking a production supervisor. 

Some of the skills needed were: data entry, spreadsheet development, computer skills and program knowledge. Okay, but now the qualification that made me cringe: “must be proficient in upper level mathematics (ability to work with both fractions and decimals).” WHAT? Third grade math is now considered “upper level math?” Come on, have we set our sights so low that third grade math separates the cream of the crop?

On a recent talk show, the host of the show actually read the high school exit test that is given so that “no one gets left behind” in California. First, it was multiple choice, and secondly, you could take it as many times as needed to pass and be called a “graduate.”

Typical questions were things like, “If you have 20 apples and you sell 20 percent of them, how many do you have left?” I’m serious. Then they would give you four to five choices, two absurd, two close answers, and one that was correct. Of course, we all know that the answer is you would have 30 apples because you would submit a false claim that a natural disaster destroyed 50 percent of your crop and the government would make you whole again.

My point to all of this is that I believe that our schools no longer teach us how to deal with real life. Real life is when you submit a resume, and if it is messy, chances are it won’t get a second look. Real life is when 20 people apply for one job, and 19 of them will be disappointed. Real life is that you are not entitled to anything. 

Instead of giving passing grades to all students so that government funding will not be taken away, how about some real life lessons? If you have a poor performance record at your job, you just found a new home in the unemployment line. Real life has no “Collect $200” cards available.

Borderline Insanity
Now, I’m shifting gears. SHELTER editor Samantha Carpenter, recently asked my opinion on the immigration issue. I will answer with a favorite quote: 

“In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace or origin. But this is predicated upon the man’s becoming in very fact, an American, and nothing but an American. 

There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but ONE FLAG, the American Flag, and this excludes the red (other) flags which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile … We have room for but one language here, and that is the ENGLISH language … and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.” — Teddy Roosevelt 1907 (99 years ago).

One more personal note. I lost my dad 20 years ago in Sept 1986; I sure miss him.

R. Mark Reasbeck is owner of Coyote Springs Window and Door in Las Vegas.

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