Thursday, January 22, 2015
Plumbing, as to Third World America...
When running our HVAC company, I hired several young men (and women) from one of the larger HVAC trade schools in the country. These kids usually graduated High School, then instead of going to college, they chose to go to a trade school for a year (which was charging $21,000 per year at that time) and graduate with a "certificate" declaring them prepared to enter the HVAC trade with skills and knowledge far advanced over the average apprentice.
When these kids arrived in my shop, we found that the 'school' included very little hands-on skill development. Not a single one of them had ever touched a torch, for instance. Not one could locate the proper place to apply gauges on a simple residential machine, much less understand the gauges. Not one had been instructed in basic safety procedures to prevent them from catching a face-full of flame when working on a gas or oil furnace that may be malfunctioning. In a nutshell, they were robbed by this 'trade school', because I have to tell you, if you can't solder or braze two copper pipes together, or simply protect your eyebrows from a furnace, your value in a working HVAC shop is zero.
H and I are traveling, and in theme with my above paragraph I just need to share another discovery that reveals the decline in America.
Basic plumbing is relatively simple. There are 4 key rules needed for anyone who wants to call himself a 'Plumber'. (Real plumbers will get the joke and grin.)
Rules for being a 'Professional Plumber':
1: Hot on the left
2: Cold on the right
3: Sh*t flows down hill
4: Never eat the last bite of your sandwich
That's it. If you remember those four rules, you can earn a good living as a plumber (and avoid a mouth-full of feces at lunchtime. ;)
Now, seriously: In the last two places we crashed for the night - national hotel/motel chains - at least one plumbing fixture was plumbed incorrectly. This may not seem like a big deal. But consider this - when national chains hire 'professionals' to do work, and those professionals either have not been taught the basics of their trade, or worse, perhaps know the basics but choose not to do the job properly, consider the devolution of standards that is on display. Now consider this: When a 'plumber' puts the hot water supply on the wrong side of the device, you might get a surprise and a little discomfort. Your child may be scalded. What if he tapped hot water to fill your bidet? What if, by either incompetence or neglect, he plumbs your home in such a manner to allow backflow to contaminate your fresh water supply?
What if your 'electrician' is applying the same standards to wiring hidden in your walls? What if the carpenter is applying the same standards to the staircase or deck that your children use every day?
Now consider this sort of shabby work in a national chain, at different properties several hundred miles apart (indicating it wasn't just an isolated incident involving one plumber - but a devolving work standard within the profession) and the corporate chain does not have quality control mechanisms in place (or worse, don't have quality control people who have a clue what they should be doing!) to catch such workmanship (or even worse - doesn't care!) - the conclusion that we are devolving into a nation of unskilled, incompetent people willing to endure standards that are nearing third world status, is unavoidable.
This post isn't big-think. It is simply observations and conclusions over many years that support a broader narrative. America is devolving because the vast majority of people living among us no longer aspire to standards of a first world nation. Pride and self respect are rapidly losing their place in society among our Countrymen. Entropy is on display.
And it is only to be fixed when people are no longer given the necessities of life, and must go forth and earn in a competitive and unrestricted environment. Only then will the individual improve his game. Only then will he be rewarded for doing better work. It's called the Free Market. I know I am preaching to the choir - but I just had to preach for a bit.
The men and women who built this country into the dominant power on Earth in just a century or two were aggressive, hardcore survivalists who worked hard and smart to ensure they had the necessities of life. Men built railroads not because they were born with an undying desire to move products from A to B more efficiently. They built railroads to earn money, to ensure they would have the necessities of life until they died - with some left over for their loved ones.
The worst part of it all? Understanding that we have not even come close to bottoming out in this country, yet. The majority of people will not 'get it' until they are faced with a standard of living equal to Somalia or Yemen.
The saddest part of it all, at least for me?
Knowing that I will probably watch us hit bottom in my lifetime.
Posted by K at 8:47 AM