Sunday, May 23, 2010

One of the things I have learned in 58 years

man and boy is that communication is very important, especially when something goes wrong.

Americans hate a cover up more than anything else, and yet it is human nature to try and cover things up to stay out of hot water or avoid embarrassment.

I have a friend I grew up with that is somewhat semi retired from a career in banking. I guess he’s done pretty well for himself, and if I know him it’s because he has come up with solutions to people’s problems.

Quite a few years back we had a long chat in teaching me how to deal with the bank if something happens along the way. I had a mortgage and there was a possibility that I would be victim of some sort of layoff. I was somewhat worried over this.

Over breakfast he told me that the loss of a job or some other horrendous happening was a lot more common than is widely believed, and yet when it happens the difference between, say, keeping or losing the family manse is how the situation is handled.

The first step is communication. Get with the bank and let them know what is going on. The bank knows that these things happen and they really do not want to be stuck with another house. What they really want is to have the loan paid off.

They can and will work with you if you have something to work with. They actually want you to succeed because if you succeed, they succeed.

The worst thing you can do is avoid the bank because they do not know what is going on and it forces them to do exactly what neither party wants to have happen.

It creates a lose/lose situation where the bank gets stuck with an unwanted house and you get cast out to the wolves.

At work I enjoy a reputation of always being in the right place at the right time in the appropriate uniform. My hitch in the army stressed the importance of that to no end. I have missed a crew change one time in two decades and that was because of a pretty serious injury.

When that happened, I made it a point to call the office from the emergency room. I made two calls that night, one to Mrs. Pic, and the other was to my employer.

I called the dispatcher at about 2000 hours and told him that I was hurt and did not see myself recovering before I was scheduled to return to work.

The following day, personnel called me and seemed astonished that I had notified them two weeks before I was due to return to work.

The incident became a non event.

Instead of being angry that I wasn’t coming in, they were grateful that I had given them as much notice as possible.

Most people are pretty good about things if you don’t try and hide things. They expect things to happen.

Accidents are a fairly regular occurrence and I have seen more guys get canned not for the accident itself, but for trying to squirm out of it.

It’s interesting to watch the process over the course of a career. I’ve seen a guy plaster a piece of equipment and report it immediately and not miss a minute of work over it. On the other hand, I’ve seen people try hide something not much worse than scratched paint get sent down the road for trying to hide it.

The interesting thing to note is that had they called it in, the powers that be would probably simply said something like, “Yeah? So what?”

I’ve discovered over the years that a lot of life is the spin put on things.

Giving a ‘heads up’ to people generally takes a negative situation and puts it into a positive light. Instead of crucifying you, the people upstairs will generally bust their asses to help a guy out.

The army, which has a reputation of being pretty hard on their people regarding being where you are supposed to be and when you are supposed to be there is a lot more forgiving than one would believe if you play by the rules.

Once, while returning from a leave, I was the victim of an airlines strike. It looked like I was going to be late returning.

I instantly called the First Sergeant. He calmly told me two things; he told me to relax and keep him posted.

I was so surprised to hear this from Top that you could have knocked me over with a feather. Top was a damned serious, no nonsense Old Army First Sergeant. A man of very limited formal education, yet he was a man of immense native wisdom.

I had expected to catch holy hell.

The fact that I returned to my outfit on time with the most dramatic return from leave is immaterial.

Upon my return the old Top Kick hauled me into his office and instead of an ass chewing, he explained to me that I had done exactly the right thing on keeping him posted of the possibility of returning late.

I asked him what would have happened to me if I had not arrived on time, and he told me that because I had been forthright to him and called, he simply would have
kept me on leave status for another day or two until I returned. No problem.

Looking back on it, I imagine he would not have even charged my leave earnings balance with the extra day or two, had I been late. I think he was grateful that I had called and not created a problem for him.

Over the course of my hitch, I saw numerous guys get into trouble that could have simply been avoided with a simple phone call.

Over the course of my civilian career, I have seen the same thing.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again.

It doesn’t take much.

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