Embrace Expectations

I worked Don Arndt Masonry as a hod carrier in the 80’s, when things slowed, I then worked for the custom home builder, Mickey Lotz. Both men were WWII veterans. Don flew the B-29 Flying Fortress and Mickey hauled a 50 caliber machine gun all over Europe wreaking havoc. Both men were bull headed and often ill-tempered. When cutting brick for Don the rule was that I left the pencil line on the brick so that he could ensure that the cut was exact and he could prove it. I will never get back the time we spent arguing over whether there was a pencil line or I had cut the brick a pencil line shy. Though the accusation was never made, I know he thought that I was marking the brick with my own pencil, which I was, because a pencil line has a way of falling off a brick that is being sawn. One day, Mickey and I were framing a wall. He measured and called out. I documented the measurement and cut, he installed. His measurements provided for a slight friction fit, which allowed him to work hands free. One time I cut a stud short, which was reason for a visit to the saw table. He hooked his tape on the table edge, pulled and marked at 16” then snatched my tape off of my belt and checked the measurement. “Tapes measure the same.” He then made a show of squaring the radial arm saw. “The saw is sound.” He glanced at the cut sheet and then measured the short stud. “You wrote down 3/8 and cut 1/4 an 1/8 short. How could’ve this happened? I mumbled “Mistake” His jaw muscle rippled with the clench of irritation. “This is not a mistake! This is a failure! A failure to think! To pay attention! To care! Completely unacceptable!” He then took the short stud and launched it out into the lot, where it remained as a monument to failure. Don and Mickey were cut from the same cloth, obsessed with perfection, conservative, frugal, strict, demanding and possessed a morality that was not pious, but human. This code of behavior that Don and Mickey were demonstrating was typical of society in the early 80s. Expectations were the norm. As we move forward as a society we would do well to embrace expectations before anything else.