In front of our office, the state is about to start a highway construction project. Over the years I've learned such projects take an inordinate amount of time to plan and implement in Florida, seemingly forever, but they usually produce a good roadway when it is finished. What takes weeks or months to do up north, seems to take years in the south. As part of the planning process, we had a county bureaucrat visit our office to ask us about our sewer connection. He hemmed and hawed for a long time before he finally got to the point. I found it rather bothersome that he had no problem wasting my time. Maybe he is used to wasting time, I'm not. I just wanted him to get to the point.
While the county administrator was babbling away I thought back to an incident years ago when we lived in Connecticut. At the time, we resided in a small community where most of the fathers commuted to New York by train. Our next door neighbors were a family of the same age and makeup and we became close friends. Bob, the patriarch of the family, was a good father and his kids respected and loved him. He kept an eye on them to make sure they didn't get into any mischief and taught them proper manners. He would also have heart-to-heart talks to encourage them on their walk through life.
There came a day on a weekend when the two families were together socializing at Bob's house, all except his youngest, Andrew, a first grader who was playing in the backyard. Right in the middle of a conversation, Andrew stormed into the house with fire in his eyes, presented himself before his father and demanded to know, "Who pissed on my bike?" The bluntness of the statement caught everyone off guard, particularly Bob who was somewhat embarrassed by the statement. He lectured the youngster patiently, "Andrew, that is not how we should speak, particularly in the presence of company, it is very rude; now say you're sorry."
"I'm sorry," he said reluctantly..., "But who pissed on my bike?"
As it turned out, the family dog had urinated on Andrew's bike which was propped next to a post. This relieved Andrew somewhat as it was a dog and not a human who had fouled his beloved bicycle.
I found it interesting how Andrew did not hem and haw like the county administrator, but got straight to the point. He may have not been politically correct, but he certainly got to the bottom of his problem, just the antithesis of the bureaucrat before me.
As the county administrator yammered on, I raised my hand to stop him and told him to get to the point, which seemed to mildly irritate him. Sensing this, I gave him a stern look and told him I would look into his problem and get back to him. I then excused myself and went back to work.
You know, I was really tempted to say to him, "Who pissed on my bike?" I do not have the temperament to be politically correct and prefer the direct approach instead. It gets results.
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at email@example.com
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