Another Brick In The Wall

I already addressed – in my own weird way – the new policy regarding who can come into the United States and who cannot.  But that was about – let’s face it – Muslims.  Before I move on, do you want to have some fun with numbers?  If so, go here.  It basically says that 28.7% of the United States is not Christian.  So I guess we should evict a quarter of the country?  You know – the country that was founded on religious freedom and the promise of separation of church and state?

Well, church and state are now engaged.  Church bought the ring and state said “yes”.  Now we are all just waiting on the ceremony.

We don’t need no education
We don’t need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone

Lost in all this brouhaha was the fact that “the wall” between Mexico and the United States was slowly becoming a reality.  People think that this country is overrun by folks from Mexico and Central America.  And they want to keep these interlopers out.  I guess I get that?  I mean, if a naturalized American citizen is unemployed because it is beneath him or her to do manual labor, then I guess it’s cool to castigate those who are happy to earn a paycheck?

I’ve got to tread carefully here because this is a sensitive subject and people can get riled up.  So let me just say this – and I am saying it without concrete facts or statistics, because isn’t that the new reality? – but I’ve been in charge of a lot of employees throughout my adult life.  And here is what I’ve learned:

  • As a general rule – in my experience – white guys (not females) are the laziest group of individuals.  And it’s not even close, honestly.
  • Latino workers are, on the whole, supremely loyal and thorough.  Treat them with respect and you’ve got your best damn employee(s) ever.

Speaking of best damn employee ever, and the reason I am writing this…

When I got promoted to a management position at the last “real” office job I had, I took over a demoralized team.  A team that was used to being blamed for everything, even when non-desired outcomes were no reflection on the team at all.  They just had no direction.  No strategy.  No – and this is super important – encouragement.

Trust me – I know this.  Before I took over this team, I used to cuss them daily.  “Why do we not have a reliable person in Del Rio, TX?”  Yeah, I didn’t realize how difficult the job was.  Not until I sat in that chair myself.

We might get one job in Del Rio every six months.  It is no wonder it was hard to keep anyone there engaged with our company.Would you just sit around for 6 months hoping for the next job?  Well, you might – if you were white. But Del Rio is a “border” town, so the help we got there was mostly Latino.  And even that was “friend of a friend” stuff.  The work ethic of the Latinos there led them to more consistent income.

But wow – I have strayed WAY off topic.

When I got the above mentioned promotion at work, I took over a team that was beaten up and used to being the butt of jokes (many of which I foolhardily probably made). I realized immediately that what this team needed was an ally.  Not a “buddy” – that is what they had before, a guy who was extremely well liked with good reason – but someone to believe in them.

Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone
All in all it’s just another brick in the wall
All in all you’re just another brick in the wall

Being a buddy would come later.  But first, I needed them to believe in themselves.  And maybe a little fresh blood besides myself?  (Bear with me – this is going somewhere.)

The first thing I did was open the wallet.  Not mine, mind you, but the company’s.  I was staring at a list of over 120 properties (it actually might have been closer to 200) that needed some kind of service but were also located in the middle of nowhere.  So there was some sort of incentive needed to get someone – anyone – to make the trip to the property.

The previous regime was very tight with the money, And here is what that meant: haggling over money every day over the same damn property all in the name of “profit sharing”.  But let me tell you something – when I would agree to pay someone a $250 distance fee to go to a property that no one else would go to, the profit sharing hit was pennies.  PENNIES.

One more aside before I get to the gist:  Point Roberts, WA was my most challenging property ever and it’s not really even close.    The only way to get there was to go north to Canada, then west, and then south again into the United States.  And we got this property during the Vancouver Olympics, as if border security was not tight enough beforehand. GoogleMap that place.  I’ll never forget it.  And we also got it taken care of – eventually.

Besides opening up the company wallet and treating people like they actually mattered, there was one other secret to my success.  We’ll call him Juancito.

I have no idea why, but the big bosses at this company were delighted with the work I had done shortly after taking over my new team.  So delighted, in fact, that they gave me the pick of the litter.  In other words, they wanted to add one more person to my team and I got to choose who that would be.  “Anyone”, they said.  No one was off limits, but it had to be at least a lateral move.

I chose Juancito.

I didn’t know him personally.  We were on the same team (prior to my promotion), so I knew about him.  He was a big guy – not obese, but tall and built – so he was hard to miss.  But he also wasn’t a “look at me” guy despite the long hair.

Yes, despite my connections with others on my former team, I wanted Juancito.  Two reasons:  1) It wouldn’t seem like poaching at all and 2) I knew he was special.  Don’t ask me how.  I just did.

The next thing you know, my team is getting shout outs during the weekly company-wide meetings because that list that used to push 200?  Well, it was in single digits and would remain so.

You would not believe what that recognition did for my team.  They were used to being the butt of jokes, and suddenly the entire company is clapping for them.  I was always the one that management would cite in the meetings, but I never felt comfortable with that and would always try to make sure the entire team was recognized.  That was my team and always will be.

Hillary was the heartbeat – always would be – but it was Juancito that drove everyone.  All he did was his job, and he did it amazingly well.  He was the missing link – the guy who performed at such a high level and with such modesty that it made everyone want to be better.

About a year and a half ago, I ran into a guy from this same company that I used to work for.  I recognized him right away because we met at a going away party for my boss at the time.  He was kind of a condescending shit at the time.  I had only been with the company for a few months then and he really made me feel like an outsider.

But now?  In 2015?  He saw me and recognized me, but could not remember my name.  When I told him, he looked back and said “You’re kind of a legend.”

No, Tom.  If anything, my legend is the people I tried to develop.  Hey, and guess what?  One of those people (Juancito) was born in Mexico.  That’s right – the secret to my success isn’t even American born!  He is bilingual, compassionate, and smart.

I promise that this was not written to throw you under the bus, Tom.  It was written to attempt to make a point and you were an ancillary object.

Juancito sent me a Facebook message tonight asking if he could use me as a reference for a new job he was applying for.  I know what most of you are thinking.  Since when do landscapers or drywall repair guys ask for references?  But that is your inner Trump talking.  Here is what Juancito is going for:

I currently work at the University of Kansas as the graduate administrator for the chemistry office
The job i will be applying for is for the senior academic advisor position at the chemical and petroleum engineering dept.
Advising students with their coursework. Making sure they are in track. Reporting back to faculty about their progress and keeping records of all the students.
All those words.  Some big ones, too.  I did mention that he was born in Mexico, right?  You know – that country that we want to shut out because they are all rapists with some actually being good people?
Thanks, Juancito, for being the model employee.  I look forward to giving you a glowing recommendation when I get that call.

3 thoughts on “Another Brick In The Wall

  1. Also, the building of “The Wall” is some Trumpian sleight of hand. So far he is only committing to rebuilding and completing the border walls that were passed in previous Administrations/Congresses. There isn’t a new Wall. Yet.

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