Sunday, March 7, 2021

Fly-on-the-wall moment

God bless small towns.

There I was after Mass in the smallish Catholic church I attend.

Mrs ERJ volunteered for assorted duties that I am not at liberty to divulge (it is her business).

I sat on one of the over-flow chairs just outside the worship space. I was wearing my cloak-of-invisibility.

One of the "matrons" of the church who is probably close to fifty-five but looks twenty years younger was chatting with Father Dwight. The conversation meandered as conversations between close friends often do. She revealed that she is on the Board of Directors of one of the small, local hospitals.

Do you want to guess what she rhapsodized about? The caliber of the doctors? The profit margin? Grants from the State? High-tech gadgets? Nope, none of the above.

She said she was most consistently impressed with the quality of the Housekeeping Department. Every day. Every hour of the day. Week-after-week. Month-after-month. Housekeeping did whatever it took to not drop the ball.

At one level that might seem disappointing.

On another level it is brilliant. How many Grannies survive the surgery but die in post-op due to secondary infections? What do patients and families see and smell? A mediocre doctor in a dirty environment can be a rock-star in a sparkling environment because he/she knows his/her genius will not be unraveled by entropy.

In my opinion, "matron" gets it. The house will not stand if the foundation is in disrepair.

"Matron" is my hero for the day. I would mention her name but, obviously, I do not have her permission. That is the downside of being a fly-on-the-wall.


  1. It is the semi-invisible support staff such as those cleaning people that are the real heroes in our everyday world, they do not begin to get the appreciation they deserve.

    I worked as a waiter and bartender part-time to support myself while in college, and for many years beyond while getting established in my 'real' job. It was my observation in virtually every establishment I worked in that the one absolutely indispensable person in the entire operation, more important even than the manager, was the dishwasher.

  2. Folks who "get" the fact that your foundation determines how your entire "house" goes, are the rarest sort of manager. I have had a couple of those, in my decades of toil. And, mostly, I have not, myself, been the "foundation. But, gotta say, those foundational folks either kept the joint humming, or else helped me look as if I knew what I was doing.

  3. Heh- I picked my mechanic because his shop was immaculate.

  4. Yes, and you want to check his wrenches and sockets as well. Dirty tools don't work well

  5. There is also some quality performance science behind that focus...
    IE, paying attention to a little thing (or several) helps to move the needle on the big things.
    For example, focus on handwashing always leads to improvement with infection control.

  6. Having had a prolonged health problem a few years ago I spent months in and out of hospitals and physical rehabilitation centers. I can say without question that a clean, pleasant smelling and sparkling environment sets the tone for everything else. Likewise, a messy place usually has a shitty attitude about their work.

    That woman you mentioned is obviously pretty smart about these things.

  7. Why I always stayed on the good side of the physical plant folks, the maintenance folks, the housekeepers and the secretarial staff. Those people can make or break you.

  8. They are the unsung heroes (and usually NOT paid well)... sigh


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