Not Intentionally

By Lyle Hill

The ring of the telephone has always intrigued me. It has so many possibilities. It could be anything or anybody … a lost friend, a new customer, a Russian Oligarch wanting an American contact to help him launder money. Indeed, anything. Of course, now that every phone has caller ID on it, some of the excitement has been lost. But the ID for this early morning call stated “caller unknown” so my curiosity was up as I answered it on its third ring.

“Is this Lyle Hill?” the caller began.

“Yes it is,” I responded, “how may I help you?”

“My name is Charlie Oter and I have been a regular reader of your columns in USGlass magazine for well over 15 years.”

Now you might think that I was happy to hear from someone who had been reading my stuff for that many years, but that’s not necessarily true. People call for all kinds of reasons: to complain about something, to borrow money or maybe ask for some type of favor. Also, over the years I have made fun of certain groups of people and sometimes the calls I get are from someone who takes exception to something I have written or said and feels the need to “straighten me out.”

“Well, thank you for putting up with me for this long, Charlie, and thank you for reaching out. Is there a particular reason you’ve called today?”

“Yes there is, Lyle. You see, I’m an architect and I have thought about reaching out to you previously but something seemed to always come up so I put it off. However, I decided that it was now time to make contact.”

“Okay, Charlie. Go ahead.”

“Lyle, I graduated from college and received my architect’s license more than 30 years ago. I worked my way up the ranks, including a lot of spec writing, on airports and hospitals and numerous other projects both in the governmental and private sectors. I ultimately went out on my own, meaning I also had to become acquainted with the business side of the profession.”

I had a feeling Charlie was just getting started and that we might not be headed to a good place. But he certainly seemed to be professional and articulate, and I always have respect for business owners of all types and sizes. Especially in the business world of today.

“Please continue, Charlie.”

“Well, Lyle, you have been critical of architects in some of your past columns and something you previously wrote bothered me. And I just felt that I needed to point it out to you because if it was hurtful to me, it most likely was hurtful to others as well.”

“Charlie, if I was hurtful to you in any way I certainly apologize. I assure you it was not intentional. I guess I just assume that no one takes me seriously in the first place.”

“You have a solid following, Lyle, and have a large influence in certain areas of the construction industry and perhaps there are some who do take you more seriously than you think.”

“What specifically was it that bothered you, Charlie?”

“You both implied and directly stated that architects don’t know much about glass. To some extent you are absolutely correct, Lyle.”

“Go on, Charlie,”

“I spend a lot of time with manufacturers, suppliers, sales people and anyone else who can help me understand the products and systems that I need to incorporate into my projects. I consult with them because I know and respect the fact that they know more about their areas of expertise than I do. They, like you, are the experts in their fields. Neither I, nor any architect, can be expected to know as much as someone who spends their entire life in a given trade. I spend a great deal of my time making sure that I get it right the first time because that’s what my clients expect and deserve and I always appreciate the help I get from the experts in their fields.”

“Well, Charlie, I guess maybe I have been a little harsh or, to use your word, hurtful. But not all architects are as professional or dedicated to their work as you are. There are some who don’t ask for help when they should and others who ignore what you recommend when they do. I have worked with some incredibly good architects and I have a high degree of respect for them. I’ve also worked with others who are really bad. Of course this
is true of every profession because the glass and metal industry has some bad apples, too. So I guess I’ll apologize one more time and also thank you again for making contact. You’ve given me some things to think about … and maybe even write about.”

“Thank you, Lyle. And one last request from me if you don’t mind.”

“Not at all, Charlie. What is it?”

“Please don’t cancel my subscription to USGlass magazine because of this call, Lyle. I really enjoy the magazine and in particular your articles and your sense of humor.”

“You got it, Charlie. And just so you know, the humor is intentional!”

Lyle R. Hill is president of®, an information portal and job generation company for the glass industry. Hill has more than 50 years’ experience in the glass and metal industry and can be reached at

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