Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Good Industrialist Maintains Things

The issue of good industrial maintenance habits is near and dear to my heart. I touched on it yesterday, but it's one of those subjects that I always have more to say about. I hope you agree.

It's always fun when things are new, shiny and new. It's just like Christmas. Maybe you get a new car, a new couch, or a new pet. But that's just the beginning, because from now on you're going to need to take care of it. Or it'll go to pot and you'll fail to get the maximum value (and enjoyment) out of it.

When it comes to a car, of course you're always maintaining a car. The way it's been for me, most of my cars have been used, so they've had issues. If I have to go out of town, my stomach is instantly a tangle of knots, because I'm never sure I'll make it. I've had cars so bad, in a parallel universe I'm still standing by the side of the road. Even St. Christopher refuses to ride with me. The one and only thing my cars have never failed at is needing constant maintenance.

A couch doesn't need that much maintenance. Just brush off the pet hair and occasionally soak up a pee stain and flip the cushion. I don't really mind flipping the cushion, because I'm always surprised by how much change I find. Whenever I find a quarter or dime or something, I put it in a jar, and that's my new couch fund. So far I have 80 cents, two paperclips, and a partly chewed dog biscuit. Eventually, we'll get there! I actually remember years ago, the last couch Grandma and Grandpa owned. It was from the '40s. We tried to give it away but no one wanted it. So I had to tear the sucker apart, piece for piece. I can't remember how much I found that day, but it was probably close to a dollar. So it was win-win.

Then there's our pets. For me, it's a dog, Underbrush. Does she need maintenance? Of course, plenty of it. And I lost the instructions that came with her, so I'm just winging it. But I keep her food dish filled and her water dish. She likes regular walks, giving her a chance to take constant pees and an occasional pootie. I'm a meticulous, obsessive cleaner after her, getting it all in a bag, then using an anti-bacterial hand wipe to make sure the grass is left as clean as it can be. And she herself might need a spritz when we get home, if there's any crustacean left behind. We take a breather for a few hours, then we're back out.

Maintenance. It's what you do to take care of your stuff. And for those in industry -- in the Residential Industrial Movement (RIM), at least -- everything we have, we need to maintain. I've been very proud of our many RIM members, knowing they've been dedicated to the proposition that good maintenance is job one.

You notice I specifically praised the members of RIM for their attention to maintenance. That's true, because I have nothing but scorn and reproach for the major industrial powers, many of the "great" companies that everyone knows so well. My opinion of them -- and it's a fact -- is that they, by their evil nature, simply let things go to pot. I've seen it from the inside and the out, although doubtless they do a better job with the outside of their facilities than they do the inside. Because they want everyone to think they're so great in there!

And yet, how many times have I driven by a major industrial plant and seen dirty windows, signs tipped over or crooked, shabby loading docks, and even bad landscaping. It's ugly as sin to see weeds basically as tall as the building, sometimes even blocking the main entrance. There was one major industrial facility I saw -- I believe they made lawn mowers -- the grass and weeds were so beyond control, they were well on their way, creeping toward the apocalypse. Kind of ironic.

The major industrialists, as in so many other aspects of the work, simply don't care. They think they're so big and bad they can live like the devil and people will still love them. And it's really because most of us avoid the industrial sections of our town, because we instinctively know this stuff is hidden away for a good reason. We don't want to feel bad about ourselves for rewarding bad behavior. Or their million dollar ad campaigns paper over the offense, lulling us into a state of blissful denial that they really can be that bad. It's the hidden persuaders syndrome all over again. They brag about their high standards, but check the corners; there'll be dust or mouse droppings for sure. No maintenance...

But the good industrialists -- the members of RIM -- maintain their things. They see dirt or streaks on a window, they clean it. The grass is getting long, they cut it. If the loading dock looks shabby, they de-shab it, pronto, quick, lickety split, now, if not sooner. If there's dust, they put it in a dustpan and dispose of it properly. If there's a mouse, they kill it and fling it in the incinerator. Because they care, and because they know you care.

In conclusion, there's a big difference between the major industrial powers and the members of RIM. The residential industrialists care about maintenance, knowing what is necessary and making sure it gets done. The major industrialists simply don't care. They gladly let their facilities go down the tube because they know they can still make a fast, dirty buck.

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