¿Qué estás haciendo poco mamácita?By Paula Koval
I had the absolutely marvelous pleasure of visiting with my aunt and cousin today. It was that much of pleasure because my cousin, her mom, and her late father and I got along quite well when I was younger. They loved me and the feelings were mutual.
Twenty-eight or twenty-nine years have passed since we last were together. In that time, her father, who was as gentle and as generous as he was tall (he was, at least, six feet, six inches tall!) has gone into the next world. I hope to see him there, but I am grateful that my cousin and I decided to see one another in this life!
As we talked about the passage of time, our careers became a topic. She has worked for the same small business for more than 40 years. She started in the sales department of an architectural glass company, helping contractors and end users to properly specify their needs in the language of architectural glass.
Following a protracted illness, she returned to work and is now in accounts payable. She loves it there. Then I mentioned that I had enjoyed my work when I was in Washington, DC. She told me that she knew I was there, but she was not sure what I was doing there. So I told her that I was once a buyer and that through the study of procurement and contracting, initiative, drive, and God's grace, I retired as a senior contract specialist. She asked me to talk about it.
I started to fumble for a way to tell an uninitiated person about what I did that made me love my work as I did. I told her it was like solving puzzles with a new one showing up each day. Then I found an example or two to illustrate my career to her and her mom.
I told her of the time that I had a wall repair and painting job to be done in one of my employer's buildings. I sent out a request for proposals to five small businesses and I selected the offer made by the one who seemed to be the lowest priced, responsible offer who submitted a bid that was responsive to my specifications. OK, that made sense to me. The offeror and I sign a contract and work is to begin on a certain Monday morning.
As sure as the sun rises, there were two men at work at 06:30 on that morning, fixing holes in the walls and painting. Our staff, which includes many women with jobs like secretary, administrative assistant, economist, data systems analyst, and associate division director were arriving for work. This influx of women to their offices did not go unnoticed by the two workmen. At about 08:30 they put their tools down and decided to take a walk and look at the women.
It was at about 08:40 that I got a call from the secretary to the staff director for management. This guy was a big fish. There was only one bigger fish in our pond and he never made his own calls, so I was listening carefully.
She asked me if I was aware of two workmen who were covered with dust and paint spots who were wandering the halls and walking into offices. I answered that they were hired to fix the holes in the walls and paint them. When she told me that they were walking into any office they so desired and asking, in Spanish, of the first woman they saw, "What are you doing, little mama?", I knew that I had about 60 seconds to get them to stop.
I assured the secretary that I would handle the problem right away. I called the contractor and told him to call his crew, PRONTO, and tell them that they are to get back to work and stay away from all of our staff. If they could not do that, the contractor would be discharged for failure to perform and be charged every cent it cost to get a new contractor.
I concluded my call and in about one more minute I received a call back from the secretary who had reported the problem. She told me that she had gotten word that the two guys got a call on the cell phone, apparently from someone whom they feared, and went back to work.
Case closed, right? Wrong! I summoned the contractor to my office and gave him a written modification to the contract that called for his crew to wear uniforms when on our premises, so our staff could readily see that they were contractor personnel. He balked at the cost for uniforms. I agreed, so I changed the requirement to be for printed T-shirts with the company name on them, to be worn starting the next morning. I also ga\ve the contractor written notice that his crew was not to speak to any staff when they are on our premises. He signed and accepted the modifications, at no additional cost.
To the best of my knowledge, those contract clauses are still in use 15 years after that incident.
Yes, I loved my work. Where else besides a circus could I be entertained while at work?
Thank you very much for visiting my blog and for reading this entry by Paula Koval