A Digression …
When I started out I did not know much. I would turn up for work anticipating new disasters every day. I had a blue boiler suit, two sizes too big, given to me by a cockney charmer called Charlie. It had more holes than a lace curtain and smelled like it had been doused in machine oil. The knees were worn smooth, as was the left elbow, that he used to rest on, while reading the morning paper.
I would anxiously wait to get a call and for chaos to begin. We had an old battered van; a Citroen, I think. It was hard to know, few of the parts were factory fitted. I would jump in that van, that reeked of stale cigarettes, three-day-old sandwiches and empty cans of WD40 behind the seat, having rounded up every clanking instrument that I could muster, and rush to the scene.
I would regularly get lost, run out of fuel, or the van would develop a form of automotive arthritis that required ten minutes rest before continuing on. Suffice to say, I would arrive with a great deal of fuss and bother. Sweating like a trawler man after two weeks of shore leave, I would heave my sack out of the back and wrestle the thing up the steps to the front door.
I would shout through the door to the man or woman of the house, mostly to avoid getting shot, but equally to make sure I was breaking into the right place. If someone answered from inside, it would be the signal to cast my glistening catch onto their porch stoop and begin to wrestle with the Moby Dick of my imaginings; the four lever Chubb lock.
I avoided saying much to the owners of the house in case they could discern that I was floundering out of my depth. I would use every tool at my disposal to tweak, bludgeon and torture that lock, progressively increasing the size and heft of the tool with each assault. From the other side of the door, it would have the effect of an orchestral piece, building to a crescendo with a drum solo and occasional operatic screams.
Eventually either the door or lock would break, out of sheer force and brutality.
At this point, dripping with sweat, covered in metal shavings and wood chippings, the door would swing open and I would lock eyes with the owners for the first time. It would be hard to tell who looked the more wretched. I would tell them earnestly that all that could be done was to replace the battered metallic remnants of my morning’s work, rasping like a dying fish in my gnarled paw.
The owner would admit that they too had tried all they knew on that confounded thing and had failed as well. I would be asked if I wanted a tea, or some water to wash myself down, but was aware that my boss would be looking for his van back. While he could do without me, the van was needed for the midday sandwich run.
I would often receive a hefty tip and the homeowner’s wholehearted sympathy while being helped to load my scattered tools back into the van. My boss told me how customers remarked that I was a very hard worker, when they came to the shop to buy a new lock.
These days I am skilled at my job.
The Internet has meant that business is booming. We cover a wider area. Charlie’s cousin got us a good deal on a fleet of leased vans and through the benefit of GPS I now arrive on time at the right location. The magic of a smart phone means that I can look at the issue with my customer on route and often have the job diagnosed, fixed and repaired in minutes. My tools are a well used set of lock picks from the pouch on my belt, a fresh can of WD40, 12 V drill from the passenger seat footwell and a spare lock for the rare occasion when my customer gets carried away with enthusiasm.
What has my experience taught me?
Today, I work in a knowledge economy, in the beginning I was manual labour
Originally my effort was rewarded, today I capitalize on my skills.
Experience has an increasing value.
Efficiency makes me effective.
One side note though…
I never receive a tip – because I make the effort expended by the home owner, in their attempts to fix the issue, look amateur.
I never get offered tea – because I’m not sweating profusely.
Customers haggle over the fee – thinking that 5 minutes is “too little work.”
I don’t get the long breaks I had with the old van – now its new job, next town.
My boss is not selling half the locks he originally did.
In fact, one customer berated him over his “high call out charges,” calling the fleet of new vans;”reward for rapacious profiteering.” The same vexed customer called me a “dapper dan, unwilling to get his hands dirty.”
Please note this is an allegorical piece – I am not a locksmith…but there are striking similarities in Digital Strategy!
Originally published on Linkedin, where nobody bothered to read it.
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
#Moral #Tale #Locks #Skills