“By the work, one knows the workmen.” ~ Jean De La Fontaine
Yesterday, I finally picked up the wall mirror I brought to the sash shop two weeks ago. The mirror had a missing “door” that was supposed to cover its right side. It was in that state when I bought it from a second-hand shop early this year. I thought, given the abundance of craftsmen and sash shops in the city, having it fixed wouldn’t be so difficult.
Well, while the new door turned out “okay,” it wasn’t pleasingly perfect either. The door kept springing open – it shouldn’t do that – and for about 10 minutes, we tried to figure out why. Initially, the man at the shop (the one who made the door) thought there’s excessive wood causing the bulk on the inside, and so he shaved and shaved . . . in vain. When I noticed the door would still spring open (despite the above-mentioned), he attacked another “problem”: the hinge and its screws. When that was not working, too, I finally commented, this mirror stayed in your shop for a week. If you had worked on it as carefully as you had promised, we wouldn’t be going over this problem right now.
What’s most ironic about the situation is that the same man said two weeks back, “if you want quality work, you have to pay quality price.”
The whole scenario quickly reminded me of my working relationship with a former boss. Being young at the time, I thought she was over-the-top O.C. (obsessive compulsive): articles had to undergo several revisions; presentations had to be reviewed again and again; budget reports had to be scrutinized down to the last centavo lest we miss something, ad infinitum.
Exasperating? Oh yes! And I admit there were times I tried to buck the rules (“Not another revision!”). But you know what, I’ll forever be grateful that she patiently repeated how important it is to give our best in any task, big or small. Unfairly or not, people gain insight on how we work based on the quality of what we turn out. And if you consistently give your best, she’d say, people would want to work with you.
I suppose she’s right. I thought the man at the sash shop would be my go-to person for future refurbishing jobs. That “future” ended yesterday when I picked up the mirror.
First published: 28 August 2012