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Funny, it didn't hail here

Week of 23 Jun 08

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Three or four weeks ago, some characters started showing up in our neighborhood in nice looking service trucks with out of state license plates. Ladders appeared and neatly dressed personnel started climbing up on people's roofs. As I inquired, I found out we had had a hail storm and these were inspectors/installers looking at roofs for damage.

Soon, roofs were being replaced all over the neighborhood, but not at our house. For the rest of the story is this. Our neighborhood of one hundred forty houses is about 15 - 18 years old. Most of the roofs are showing their age and need replacing. At our house, we replaced our roof about three or four years ago. No one came to visit us this spring. Yet, I'll bet ten or fifteen roofs have been completely replaced in our neighborhood due to the "hailstorm" a few weeks back.

Our neighbors are gleeful on their good luck that they just happened to experience a hailstorm which got them a complete new roof from their insurance company. But, funny, it never hailed at our house. In fact, we have two vehicles that sit outside in the driveway all the time, one about 3 years old, the other twenty years old, and neither have any dents from the "hailstorm."

Now, one can look at this whole episode and commend my neighbors for being smart--they got their new roofs for free while your dumb old writer paid about $10,000 for his. I don't look at it that way, for their roofs are not free. Homeowner's insurance for all of us will go up based on this heavily concentrated bout of claims. I call it cheating, or perhaps, stealing. The alleged incident that precipitated this "catastrophe" is a joke. These roofs were already worn out and in need of replacement.

I wrote a few months ago about cheating and stealing in procurement. I think this hailstorm incident takes the issue a step further and demonstrates how corrupt we have become. The so-called "greatest generation," our parents, would never have thought to pull such a stunt as the one pulled here.

When I was at the university in the late 1960's, our generation, the baby boomers, were labeled the "me" generation. I don't know where that came from, but whoever gave us that label got it right. We are, on the whole, the most narcissistic, selfish group of people to ever come along. Perhaps it was because our parents grew up during the Depression or World War II and wanted the best for us. They doted on us as children, giving us every selfish thing imaginable. Additionally, television, the greatest advertising medium up to that time, helped push materialistic things our way. We grew up wanting not.

This attitude of entitlement seriously affects our working environment. Not only have I seen raw selfish greed wreck for-profit companies, I have had a chance to see some professional, supposedly service-oriented organizations up close, too. The things I have seen go on in these environments would take all the lawyers in Philadelphia to sort out, if anyone cared.

I have even seen such problems right here at Talo Analytic International as well. All of our newsletters are free, except for The Thompson Private Letter, which is subscription based. Last winter, we had a breach in the software platform on which we operate that newsletter. A number of people I personally know got themselves on the mailing list for it without paying. We sorted them out, took them off the list. Unbelievable.

Now, this has admittedly been a downer of a column thus far, and we can not end on such a note. You can make a difference. Remember the letters I received when I talked about cheating in purchasing? From those letters we can see there are a number of brave souls in our industry that do not take part in the hanky-panky of shady procurement. They stand up for what is right and wrong. What should you do? Speak up! Take a chance; make some noise when you see something questionable. Is such behavior risky? Of course it is, but it is worth it, even if you lose your job, for I am certain someone fired for correctly finger pointing at dishonesty should not have too much trouble getting a better job somewhere else. We must make integrity and honest dealings the norm again. It is important to saving our industry, it is important to saving modern society.

You have already been taught to speak up when you see an unsafe practice. I hope you will continue to do so.

Be safe and we will talk next week.

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