Good Morning WOM!
I would like to present something slightly different today. The following, 100% fictional short story, about our favorite maintenance person – let’s just call him RayJ – is about a service call that he was sent out on. Read it through and think about the actions Ray took. At the end I will be asking for a little audience participation!
Ray’s week at work had been tough with multiple calls that he just couldn’t keep up with. Usually jovial and pleasant, he had become somewhat brusque in his dealings with others lately. Not only was he physically worn down and tired, but mentally stressed out as well. It didn’t help one bit when he received a call at 4:50pm on Friday about an apartment with a leak around the water heater. Somewhat begrudgingly, and totally empty handed, he started moving to the other side of the complex toward the apartment. A thought crossed his mind halfway there, about grabbing some possibly needed tools or other equipment, but he was in too much of a hurry now. His knock on the door was answered by the resident who had a deep frown upon her face. Knowing a similar frown was on his own, he took a breath to speak, but before he could, she exclaimed; “I really don’t have time for this today! I am sick and tired of all the maintenance issues that this apartment has.”
Ray could immediately feel his heart rate ramp up and his face began to redden, but he took an even deeper breath and somewhat gruffly responded; “I am unaware of any other recent service calls made to this apartment…” Interrupting, she said; “Well…! I wouldn’t make it up!” To which Ray replied; “Still…, I haven’t been here before.” This only seemed to worsen the woman’s frown and Ray quickly added; “I am here to determine the issue today and make repairs as quickly as possible.” With a scowl and a roll of her eyes she turned to move away and said over her shoulder; “I have heard all that before.” Ray wanted very much to continue defending himself, but now held his tongue, even though his own face and body language had most likely betrayed his truest feelings anyway.
Moving to the loudly rumbling electric water heater, Ray quickly determined that the piping was the source of the leak. He could actually see wisps of steam from the moderate amount of water streaming down and over the heater’s side and dripping from the thermostat/electrical connections box. Without further thought, he quickly began trying to find the water stop valve. Locating it a short distance above the heater itself, he noted with dismay that the handle was very rusty and corroded. To reach it, he had to stand on his tiptoes and press his body hard against the heater. He was quickly reminded that everything was hot as the handle and nearby piping burned his bare hands and the hot water soaking into the front of his work shirt began scalding the skin there. Recoiling, he banged his elbow on top of the tank. Still, taking a deep breath and trying to ignore the continued burning, repeated the same actions, trying to turn the handle, but it just wouldn’t budge.
Feeling more than a little frustrated, Ray knew that he needed to get up a bit higher as that would provide greater leverage as well as some distance from the very hot water. He grabbed a nearby kitchen chair and stood on it while he reached for the handle. As he applied more pressure to the hot and very rusty handle it suddenly snapped and the sharp edges cut into his hand. This caused him to lose his balance and fall forward smacking his face into the hot water piping and top of the tank which gouged into his cheek and chin. The chair then began skidding out from under him which caused Ray to more or less slide down the water heater tank itself, not only breaking his glasses, but scraping his face and ultimately ending up in a pile on the floor. Burnt, bruised, bleeding, and nearly blind, Ray was just able to make out that with all the jostling, the leak had gotten far worse!
I think I had better bring this rather unfortunate – but again, 100% fictional – story to an end before the property damage and/or his injuries get any worse. But let’s consider Ray’s actions here. Can you see some things that might have made a big difference in the outcome here? To get you started, think about the following questions. Just remember that there might be more than a few possible responses to them.
Now it’s time for some audience participation! Can you feel the excitement? It’s really easy as all I am asking is for you to share your thoughts with me. I am not asking you to provide a thorough and complete analysis resulting in a large expenditure of your time – though I am not saying you can’t either – just throw me back a line or two on some things that stick out in your own mind. I will keep all received anonymous, unless you don’t mind being credited with your comments. My aim is to share the essence of those received in a future email so that we can all benefit from them.
Looking forward to any and all responses. Until then, have a great and safe week!
Director of Facilities Services