Lessons Learned

It was to be a very lazy Saturday morning, just a month ago now. At least that’s how I thought it would go. Except that it didn’t.

The week ending was a busy one, as it included the Glass Expo West™ show in Irvine, Calif., which had been exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. But it was Saturday now—the show over—and I could sleep in a bit in my big, fluffy, hotel bed. Then the phone rang.

At least I thought it might have, because I heard it while in that semi-conscious state that bops back and forth between asleep and awake.

I bolted up, even though I had missed the call. I have been running trade shows for more than 33 years and knew that, if it was important, whoever was looking for me would find me. If it was an emergency, I would be found. The past did prove to be a prologue, as I heard a text come over just as I finished slipping on some sweats with a plan to grab a coffee and hit the hotel gym.

That was not to be. Though the show was over, the Auto Glass Safety Council™ (AGSC) was conducting a technician-training program, followed by certification testing downstairs, and there was a problem with some A/V equipment. Said equipment was missing, as was the hotel’s A/V master. It was early on a spring Saturday morning, after all.

Luckily, it was early enough that I could (or so I thought) grab a coffee, deal with the problem and still be out of the meeting room before the attendees arrived. This would spare them the sight of me in gym clothes, and spare me the embarrassment of the same.

At least that’s how I thought it would go. Except that it never does, does it? The A/V equipment proved surprisingly difficult for the hotel to locate, and the nearly 60-minute window was now down to 10. I was just about to summon my inner Shirley McClaine (think hospital scene in Terms of Endearment when she asks for her daughter’s medicine, only substitute the words “LCD projector” for “pain pills”), when the projector finally showed up—with two minutes to spare.

So there I was, in front of more than 30 technicians all ready for the training, helping to plug in wires and get the thing set up. I blushed a bit in embarrassment and apologized for my appearance, then I helped ace auto glass trainer Bob Beranek plug in and power up.

And I will admit it, I had a nano-second of self-pity run through my head.

I thought this would be one of the most embarrassing moments of my career. Except that it wasn’t. Because just then, I looked around and saw the techs. Most of them were in newly starched uniforms, proudly displaying any current AGSC certifications they have. A number told me they had to drive two and three hours this morning to get there, but they were excited to get certified. Two local owners brought all their employees and CSRs for the training and stayed for the training, too. I stuck around to answer any questions they had. I was impressed by the depth of their questions and how serious they were about their task.

It was heart-warming and uplifting at the same time. And I’ll tell you, when you are surrounded by people in the process of bettering themselves and their industry, it is very, very humbling. The emotion was even a bit overwhelming, as I went from being so self-absorbed by my own appearance to seeing the awe-inspiring focus of the technicians there to learn.

I thought that sleep was the best thing I could do on that Saturday morning. It wasn’t. Getting up and learning the real meaning of education from the people I serve was. They are my heroes.

This coming week, the Auto Glass Safety Council will hold two more training and certification sessions—one on Thursday afternoon with a repeat on Friday. The training is free to AGSC members and nominally priced for non-members. There is more information at http://www.agsc.org/newyork. And to the technician (whose name I didn’t catch) who came up to me at the end and told me not to worry about how I looked because “it’s what’s in your heart that counts.” Thanks, that helped too.

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