Monday, June 28, 2010

Some people need to realize they're really not that important...

An alternate title for this post might be "Anti-mover bigotry still strong in D.C. area." There's clearly an arrogance surplus in this area, but it shocks me at how some theoretically "tolerant and open-minded" people treat us like something on the floor of a gas station restroom. I suppose people think that we're a group of college or even high school drop-outs. After all, who but a drop-out would be working for a moving company in D.C.? What they don't realize is that most of my guys are professionals or on their way to being professionals. Byron, one of my crew leaders, is on his way to a Ph.D. in economics, for example. There's also a future Naval officer (he ships out in September), some journalists, and quite likely a PGA pro on the team (that's Jimmy, another crew leader.)

The only college drop out on the crew is me, and I've been a journalist, editor, PR guy for the government, and a staff writer with a couple of D.C.'s more well-known think tank/non-profits! And now I run this little company I built from scratch. Not bad for a guy who failed out of Latin class, huh?

What do I mean by "anti-mover bigotry?" Well, most of the time it's hilariously rude a-holes whose problems with us range from the petty to the nonsensical. Occasionally, I'll admit, we get a little cowboy with our parking jobs (you just have to sometimes), but we ALWAYS move the truck if we're in a bad spot, blocking people in. Other times, however, I respond with both barrels loaded for bear.

The latest incident happened yesterday. I got called out on a Sunday for an emergency job, so right there I was in no mood. One of the guys nearly had a diabetic seizure or something, and had to go home. No one else was available, and even though my wife wasn't one bit happy with it, I had to go out to the job.

We were coming to the end with the piece de resistance, a 200 pound armoire top. We had it on a dolly because the walk from the truck to the front door of the apartment was loooong. And, there was a garden hose in the way. I had moved the hose earlier, thinking that it had been shut off. (It sure looked like it to me). But as we approached the coiled up hose with the armoire, an older (not quite elderly) lady came walking by.

"Did you move the hose?" she asked the three of us.

Jimmy and I both replied affirmatively. "Just a few minutes ago," we said.

I continued, perhaps sensing what was about to happen, yet unable to stop: "It looked like it was off, but anyway, we had to roll this thing through here, and the hose was quite a speed bump."

And just like that she laid into us. "You can't turn a hose on full blast or you'll dig a huge hole!"

And just like that, my tolerance for rude idiots got the best of me. "It was an easy mistake," I said, not bothering to try to regulate my tone. "Look -- there's just a trickle from the hose."

"What would you know about watering trees!?!"

My exact response, I believe, was "Unbelievable! What is wrong with you people?!?" "You people," of course, meaning "All of you rude jerks who get bent out of shape over insignificant, pointless little things that shouldn't even register on the irritation scale."

She did an about-face and huffed to the spigot on her building, and that was pretty much that. It was a relatively tame incident, but still had all the characteristics of these inexplicably hostile, bizarro-world encounters. Another one happened a few months back where the rear-end of the truck was slightly over the cross-walk. A man walking by asked if there was any reason why we parked "in the crosswalk." I told him there was -- we were told to park RIGHT THERE by the building's management, and that another car had been in front of us.

"That's the stupidest thing I've ever seen," he said, and then thought he'd chew me out about it, even though there was literally probably 300 yards of open sidewalk available to him. I, of course, returned verbal fire.

Back in February, a young guy gave us all kinds of eyeball rolling because he couldn't fit his car into a ten foot wide space between the truck and a pile of snow. We dug half that pile out for him (which we'd already created by digging someone else out as a courtesy) and he didn't once bother to get out of the car to help. And he had a problem with US? We'd already parked the ten ton truck too far down an icy embankment so as to leave space for the greatest number of cars to get out of that particular parking lot.

The other day I was accused of extortion by someone who couldn't figure out the booking system on the website.

Another time, we stopped in traffic by a guy loading his car on the side of the road. He asked if we "provided the lube" for our services. I'll let you figure that one out. There's more to the story, but let me just say it sounds like he...ah..."got screwed" by his movers in the past.

Examples abound. I've tried to understand where the rudeness comes from, but I recently gave up. So, just a fair warning to my neighbors in the Washington, D.C. area: if you have certain insecurities or particularly warped sensibilities concerning your "rights" that may lead you to take it out on men who make it their daily mission to make people happy, think twice before you open your mouth. We extend all the warmth and amicability we have toward normal people. We'll do just about anything ethical, moral and legal to ensure our customers' happiness. But if you feel duty-bound to rip into people you've never met over something as trivial as where we move a dripping hose, we will explain your faults to you, probably with pithy one-liners dripping in sarcasm and disdain.

And if you want to return fire, we'll come back and move your hose when you're not looking.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Foundational Truck Buddy Principle as explained by Dan Kennedy

I was in the only place I can get any reading  done the other day, and the book of choice was “Time Management for Entrepreneurs.” (Longer title: “The Ultimate No Holds Barred, Kick Butt, Take No Prisoners Guide to Time Productivity and Sanity.”) It’s by Dan Kennedy, who has a series of harsh but awesome books on marketing, entrepreneurship, etc.

He had a chapter called “The Number One Most Powerful Personal Discipline in All the World.” I’ve excerpted some relevant bits below, and I’ve got to say, it’s right on. Sometimes there are unforeseen factors that makes it impossible to always be punctual, but it reminds me that there ARE still processes we can employ to avoid those unforeseen factors.

I’ve said it again and again: half the reason we get good reviews – more than half, easily – is that 1) We show up, 2) We show up on time, 3) We show up on time ready to work. I can’t tell you how many calls and e-mails I get from panicky people whose movers failed to show up, or called the night before to cancel. Now, my record isn’t perfect, but knowing how low the bar is, it’s easy to shine.


I'm sure there are exceptions somewhere, but so far, in 25-plus years of taking note of this, everybody I've met and gotten to know who devoutly adheres to this discipline becomes exceptionally successful AND everybody I've met and gotten to know who ignores this discipline fails. Is it possible that this one discipline alone is so powerful it literally determines success or failure?

The discipline that I am talking about is PUNCTUALITY. Being punctual. Being where you are supposed to be when you are supposed to be there, as promised, without exception, without excuse, every time, all the time. I cannot tell you how important I believe this is. But I'll tell you some of the reasons why I believe in its indescribably great importance.

First of all, being punctual gives you the right--the positioning--to expect and demand that others treat your time with utmost respect. You cannot reasonably hope to have others treat your time with respect if you show little or no respect for theirs. So, if you are not punctual, you have no leverage, no moral authority. But the punctual person gains that advantage over staff, associates, vendors, clients, everybody.

It is my conviction that a person who cannot keep appointments on time, cannot keep scheduled commitments, or cannot stick to a schedule cannot be trusted in other ways either.

Fundamental dishonesty expresses itself in many different ways, but this is definitely one of them. I think it is significant that the man I consider to be the most frequently and consistently dishonest and disreputable U.S. president of my lifetime, Bill Clinton--famous for his tortured deconstruction of the word "is"--was also notorious for being on "Clinton Time"--meaning anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours late to everything, thus being disrespectful to everyone.

There is a link between respect for others' time and respect for others' opinions, property, rights, other kinds of agreements, and contracts. A person reveals a great deal about himself by his punctuality or lack of punctuality. So, as a general rule of thumb, I use this as a means of determining whether or not I want to do business with someone. And, when I violate this, as I occasionally foolishly do, I always get burned.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Happy Birthday, Benjamin Gray!

Congratulations to long-time Truck Buddy Brett, Liz, and their second son, Benjamin Gray. (Or is it "Grey?") They actually had Benjamin the day after we had Kolbe.

Can't wait to see the little guy!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Happy Birthday, Kolbe Alexander

Our second child, Kolbe Alexander, was born at 8:30 this morning. He was 7lb 1oz, and 21 inches.

And that's all I have to say about it for now. Sooo tired.


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Five days and counting until Baby #2 arrives...

Occasionally I'm able to look up from the computer or stack of boxes and armoires and realize that we're about to have another child.

Another. Child.

Today it really hit me as I was scheduling jobs for next week. "Let's see, we can move John Smith at 2:00 PM on the seventh, and...HOLY COW! WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A BABY THAT DAY!!!"

It's one of those common, everyday miracles, I suppose, but it still tends to throw a fist right into the gut.

So, the countdown is almost over. Next week, life changes again. Amazing.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I could take 25 Justin Biebers in a fight

I just learned about him, but this is a fight I'd be willing to take on.