The Top Button
Dear Cold Chisel, your line from that song means a lot more nowadays.
If you’ve been reading these columns for nigh on ten years, then you’ll certainly know that I’m a little (ok, a lot) old school. Traditional. Set good standards and then maintain them. High bar. Big expectations. Dotting i’s and crossing t’s. Modelling good behaviour. Look after the little things and the big things take care of themselves. I think you’ve got the picture.
I’m not holier than thou. And, using one of my favourite sayings at the moment, I certainly don’t think my poo smells sweeter than that of anyone else. However, as someone who is often standing out in front of impressionable young people, I do believe that I have a responsibility. I also believe it would be hypocritical to display one thing and expect something else from others.
I am happy for you to agree to disagree with me here, but I’ll stand firm on what I think. I’ll quote two famous sayings here as I relate my latest rambling … ‘clothes maketh the man’ and ‘cheap wine and a three-day growth’. Travelling down to the Knee of Syd for an appointment recently, we coupled it with an afternoon of shopping (yes, I know I’m supposed to ‘go local’ and we mostly do, but sometimes that just isn’t possible). Anyway, the assistant who greeted us as we made our enquiry was instantly on three strikes – he’d kind-of lost the sale even before he’d opened his mouth. Strike one, he was unshaven. I don’t mean he had the trendy George Michael carefully manicured iron-filings-on-the-chin look, he just appeared to have decided to not shave that day. Strike two, dirty shoes (that was really strike three, because I didn’t look at his shoes until I was peed off about the other two things, but I’m saving the other one for dramatic effect). And then there’s strike three – the top button was undone with his tie just hanging in place. Ugh. Deal breaker.
Ok, call me narky. You know I’m both a mathematician and a left-hander, so you know how my brain works. I can’t change that part of my DNA, but I reckon what this guy put forward as part of his first impression is a snapshot of the ‘whatever’ society that we live in today. Here’s how my brain works when I see this sales guy as we make our enquiry … “Is that how you present yourself, expecting us to look past this introduction to you as you try to sell us your product?” More importantly “How do your bosses accept this level of presentation from you? It reflects on them and the company as exactly the level that they accept.” I can hear some of you saying “Geez, get over it Paul, that doesn’t make him a bad salesman, and it doesn’t make the products he’s selling dodgy.” No, maybe it doesn’t, but it paints a picture for me about his care factor, his pride, his level of engagement, and certainly reveals a lot about the standards of those above him in the firm, if they’ll let him out on the sales floor to represent them whilst unshaven, with unpolished shoes and tie askew.
I’ll get off the soap box now. But, no deal with the sale, Mister. Whilst the top button undone and the scruffy face are issues enough in my mind, the fact that our standards have lowered to a level that firstly: sees nobody challenge this guy before he starts work, and secondly: that because he isn’t challenged, it allows him to think it’s OK to present himself like that.
He’ll turn up like that again tomorrow. Unchallenged. Then he’ll get promoted to floor manager. Then those he’s in charge of will model their behaviour on him. Do some extrapolation …