Our household recently went through one of those when-it-rains-it-pours times. Car repairs, plumbing problems, and then the fridge decides to work only on a part-time basis. There’s nothing like eating room-temperature shrimp to make you feel alive!
My patient wife began making the necessary calls, coordinating tradespeople to restore our lives to some sense of normalcy. She arranged for both the plumber and the appliance repair guy to come in on the same day. Although both were qualified, friendly, and hard working, our experience with each proved to be a valuable reminder of the difference that the quality of our work can make in the lives of others.
We booked the plumbing work on the same day as our neighbour, who was also having work performed by the plumber, and were told we’d both get a deal. But when the plumber arrived—surprise!—the price had gone up.
I wanted to cancel, but my better half convinced me that we needed to get the work done now. I couldn’t help but feel a bit of a trust issue growing already at this point.
The plumber worked hard and seemed to do a good job, although he accidentally damaged our counter and at first told us how we could fix it. Grrr! He seemed in a bit of a hurry to get to the neighbour’s place.
We asked about the dishwasher line he was supposed to do. He got down on the floor, pulled a piece off, said that the repair would be complicated, wasn’t sure he had the right tool, and then hurried to the neighbour’s house.
When he came back, my wife asked about the toilet we asked to be fixed. This too needed something that he didn’t have with him.
I asked him if he had fixed the water pressure problem—the main reason we called a plumber in the first place—and what the pressure was at. He said he hadn’t looked at it and that he had already taken the necessary equipment next door.
He came back later, did a quick check, and said it was fine. I wasn’t so sure; my trust in his thoroughness was diminished by our experience so far. I also wondered, what else has he forgotten? I talked with our neighbour, and he said his experience with the plumber was similar.
The appliance guy was the complete opposite. Instead of rushing, he took his time figuring out what was wrong with our fridge. He tested, analyzed, and researched the circuit board. He explained our options, costs, and risks—it turns out our fridge will be retiring soon. When asked for a recommendation, he walked us through which fridges he orders the most parts for and which ones he works on the least.
The appliance guy’s passion for his craft was obvious. But, more than that, he also seemed much more present. He said that he loved what he did, that it was like solving a puzzle.
I asked him if he was taking any vacation soon, and he said he was leaving as soon as our place was done. Even though he was just about to go on vacation, he didn’t give any indication of being in a hurry. He even came back to take a look at our dishwasher, said it was an easy fix, and took care of it for us.
If I’m completely truthful, I must admit that I can relate to both tradesmen. I can recall times in my life when I’ve overpromised and underdelivered, or rushed through one job to get to the next. And I can also recall times when I’ve given my full attention and energies to the job at hand, going the extra mile.
Haven’t we all had these moments? My experience reinforced for me that whatever task we’re doing at any given moment—be it professional or otherwise—we should do it in accordance with the advice of Vince Lombardi, the greatest football coach of all time: “The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavour.”