Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Progress Report

At the boatyard, we have an 8-10 page report that's prepared daily, to track the progress of the various boats we're working on. We call it a progress report. Updating this report, preferably in real time, is a major function of Crista, the office manager, and John, the production manager. If we were in the the printing business, this essential document would be called the production schedule--outlining the work that has to be done during that day. I like the terminology "progress report" better. It seems more, well, progressive.

I guess we could do a progress report on my first 3+ weeks in the marine repair business. There were times in the first week when I thought I was absolutely crazy for being there and desperately wanted to walk out. I didn't know what I was doing, I didn't know the terminology, I didn't know the names of the other employees and I just felt completely lost and frustrated. But I survived, and week two was a little bit better. It still seemed somewhat overwhelming, but I wasn't dreading waking up every morning, as I had been earlier.

The blue collar atmosphere at first shocked me. It was such a contrast with the some of the high-profile accounts I had been working with all my professional life, that I didn't quite know what to make of it. The smokers, the dopers, the drinkers, the get me through until payday mentality, it was just too much. But you know what? In time, one can get quite used to anything and now I rather like the people. Several, in particular, are quite intelligent, charming and stimulating. Others, alas, are just challenging, but even they have a certain appeal.

Would I be there if my brother wasn't a partner in the business? Probably not. Wouldn't have been hired, wouldn't have stayed. He's a calming influence. But everybody in management has been really cool, from Scott, the other partner to every one of the office workers. There's been a lot of patience going on and I appreciate that very much.

Every day brings new challenges. Irritating and demanding customers, employees who are almost whimsical in their commitment to showing up every morning, sudden rainstorms that complicate job completions, equipment breakdowns, perverse and maddening accounting procedures, the constant barrage of changes, adaptations, complaints, scheduling issues and the relentless ringing of the phone. Yes, I realize these are all typical office-type situations, but for someone like me who has been used to a much more sedate environment, it is really weird. In fact, when answering the phone, I've had to bite my tongue several times not to blurt out "The Rosenthal Group" which was the last real office I worked in so many years ago. Funny how that is still in the memory banks.

And perhaps the most challenging thing is the pay. While I'm probably getting paid more than I'm worth right now. it has been a huge adjustment compared to what I've been averaging over the past decade with my own business. What I used to earn with just a few phone calls now takes me two weeks of solid work. Wow! But I'm actually not complaining. The situation is what it is and it's all for the good. Discipline, a challenging environment, learning new skills and interacting with a diverse group of people is worth more than money and is probably just what I need right now to build up my confidence and hopefully inspire me to greater things. Who knows what the future may bring.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You've either found their supply of epoxy and are using it for its "medicinal purposes" or you've realized that you are highly capable of succeeding at this or any job. I am very happy to read your "progress report".