I can't name names, because one never knows who's reading this Blog. (I'll do so later.) Suffice it to say that Susan and I (mostly Susan) are renovating the kitchen this summer. Our contractor is doing a great—and on time—job. (As usual.) But now it's all coming together; or, rather, it's all falling apart. As the end draws nigh, a puzzle must be perfectly fit together—new stove, new cabinets, painting, stone counter top, floor tiles. Some of it's working—and some's a disaster. It reminds me that often as not it's not the manufacturing-product quality that goes awry, but the more "mundane" process of things arriving on time, schedules dovetailing rather perfectly, etc. As my ire grows at this logistical nightmare of repeatedly broken promises (following my signature on some pretty hefty checks), Susan attempts to assuage me with the words, "What did you expect?" Of course she's right, but, damn it, I always expect (hope for?) more. Small/smallish business people bitch about Wal*Mart, bitch about Home Depot, bitch about the Chinese. But how the hell do you beat the Chinese if you are selling a $9,000 stove but completely screw up the delivery and installation, thereby screwing up a platoon of other people, thereby costing us time (lots of) and money (lots of) occasioned by the delays?
From the ridiculous world of furniture ("Luckily it's a standard piece; we can probably get it to you in 7 weeks."—or some such) to stove installation to pool cleaning (luckily on that score I have a farm pond instead) ... the issue often as not/more often than not is "mere logistics." There's a Jillion $$$$ opportunity here—in damn near any industry you can name. Maybe the motto is, "For excellence, sweat the 'small stuff,' the 'big stuff' will take care of itself." That's my vent-of-the-day. Now back to beach reading.