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Perfection at 'Experiencing a Book'

Perfection has never been my ideal. Not everybody thinks like that. Many people may remember Curly's (Jack Palance's) speech about the beautiful woman backlit by the sun, in "City Slickers". Or consider the climax of "The Red Violin". There are other examples of worshiping perfection as an ideal from the days of chivalry, religious devotion, or military courage.

All I can say is, they are welcome to it, if that is what they want. For my part, I will continue to believe in the semi-universal S-shaped curve for Benefits versus Costs. (Notice the 'semi'.)

But it is always fun to make an exception. My recent problems with a broken leaf spring on my trailer resulted in a perfect experience of a certain type.

It was so easy to admire the competence and usefulness of the mechanic who drove the tow truck to my trailer, and then repaired it. He knew where to get the replacement part quickly, whereas I would have bounced around on the internet for hours, spending most of that time reading half-truths and advertisements. 

He managed to get the trailer onto the flat bed of the trailer, with one inch of space on the side of the trailer's wheels. (Recall, it has outboard wheel wells.)

He was not chatty, but neither was he grumpy. He was simply taciturn in a professional sort of way.

In contrast, consider the dispatcher at the towing service, Coachnet. Both the service and the young man dispatcher were excellent at their jobs. But why so much extraneous information? Is that all the world amounts to anymore: a bunch of cubicle-thralls entering unnecessary information into a computer system? 

The dispatcher's job was somewhat squishy and subjective, whereas the mechanic's job had more objective criteria. There is no guessing about whether he succeeded or not.

The dispatcher was a bit better spoken. Was he a college boy? Is his job an example of a 'knowledge worker', of the type that our service economy is supposed to need? The dispatcher was not wearing grease-stained coveralls as the mechanic was. So he is a 'white collar' worker.

Do you really believe that the dispatcher is as skilled as the mechanic?

This is the perfect example of what Matthew Crawford was writing about in "...Working with Your Hands...", a book that I had just finished before this leaf spring problem happened.

One more thing: the young mechanic might end up owning the auto garage someday. It is the only one in town. The dispatcher will never own Coachnet.  He will spend his whole life in fear of downsizing. But since insurance companies don't really compete with Chinese labor -- and why don't they? -- he may survive. He might even become a manager there someday. Whoopee.

Perhaps I should collect some of Crawford's juicy quotes, which encourage a more favorable view towards skilled professionals who work with their hands, instead of automatically assuming the superiority of white collar, college-educated Nobodies, who are really nothing more than petty clerks.


Ed said…
Excellent posting! Now I can't wait to hear what you really have to say about the dispatcher.

I am also awaiting some of Crawford's juicy quotes - I could use some more.
I think it is worth quoting from such an interesting book. Of course the quotes will have to be integrated into my own essay/spin.
Ed said…
Of course! That is the value, and purpose, of juicy quotes - support for your position on any topic.
Anonymous said…
I think everyone and their uncle are in awe of a good mechanic!