I have to drive today. I hate that.
I used to drive a lot, every day. A one hour/one way commute has been about minimum for me since Carter was president. Sometimes, it's been much longer. I grew to hate it. I hate toll booths and gas stations and signs at night and corrugated pavement. I hate being away from home, ever.
For a while, I had to fly fairly often, too. I'd take those nerve-wracking short flights where the runway seemed only ten feet longer than the plane required; fifteen minutes in the air and then the ground came at you like a freight train. Flying is glamorous. The first time you do it. Then it's just the bus station squared.
I have to drive to deliver things now and again. I don't mind that so much. It's driving to pick up things I hate.
In a business that makes things, logistics is everything now. You'll hear management course geekspeak about just-in-time inventory and so forth, but all it boils down to is this: if I gotta go rooting around for it, I've made a mistake somehow, and I'm wasting time. It's that simple.
The internet has made the procurement of materials much easier in the last ten years, and I'm mightily grateful for it. It was not always the way.
When I was a manager of another business and charged with hiring many persons, I used to ask a series of questions to potential candidates about what their approach would be if one of our previous customers in upstate Maine called and said there was no hot water in their restaurant, and needed us to fix it. Pronto. We were three or four hours away from this benighted eatery. Just a little exercise, I told them.
Of course it wasn't. It had happened, when I was being managed and not managing, and I had to deal with it. And so there was a right answer, or a series of them, and I knew them.
I used that little plot device a few dozen times, and nobody ever made it to gools -- hot water in the restaurant by the end of the afternoon. I'd give hints, even, but they'd never get it. It was their approach that always killed the prospective applicant. They thought there was a big secret, an answer like in a puzzle. They never realized it was an approach you were looking for, not a secret password or silver bullet or something. How you went about solving a problem at a distance told all. All you had was all you needed, too; a phone and a crummy computer on dial-up. And without fail, when the applicants were told "nope" too many times about their proposed approach, they'd start to tug a bit on their shirt collar, perspire a bit, and offer that they'd drive there right away and handle it themselves if they had to. I guess they read somewhere that managers in the commercial construction business like folks that grab the bull by the horns.
No we didn't. We still don't. I don't want to go anywhere because it's a symptom now that I overlooked something, and now I have to go somewhere and deal with it. If you're riding around in the construction business, you've failed before you spilled the first coffee in your lap while giving the finger to the first jerk weaving into your lane.
If I was a better manager, I wouldn't be leaving the shop today, even for a minute.
But then, what would I have written about? See? Multi-tasking, boss.