I’m Late, I’m Late…for a very important date!

 
April 19, 2015

We own a 1974 VW Westfalia Bus. It is slow, it stalls and it is generally unsafe by todays "bubble wrapped" air bags, traction control-so you can drive like a nutter in the snow and ice standards. It's name is "Olive" by the way.

I still have mixed feelings about this, but, my 17 year old son, LOVES driving it on sunny afternoons on the weekend. His 17 year old twin sister, luckily, seems to have a better..."appreciation" for it's limitations, lets just say. He loves the nostalgia, he loves the feel, the smell the sounds and the experience that driving the bus brings. He loves, not what the bus is not, but what it IS.

As Graham has learned, climbing into a 41 year old vehicle involves more than just the normal amount of "driver experience". It actually involves the lost art of "listening" to your vehicle, the interplay between the accelerator and the clutch, the gentle chirping of the air cooled engine and the smell of the un-spent gasoline in the leaky carburetor. All of these nuances are unique to the bus and speak to the driver of a vehicle like this in terms lost long ago to computerized chips and complex electrical systems of a modern vehicle.

Driving the bus slows you down in more ways than the obvious. Driving the VW, forces you to pay attention to the process and, interestingly enough it opens your eyes, even more, to how much of a HURRY everyone seems to be in our society these days. Sadly, where once the bus used to garner beeps and waves of curiousity and admiration, more often than not, nowadays, it elicits beeps of protest at traffic lights - where it's less than stellar acceleration falls short of the impatient "Corolla Dragster" glued to our bumper!

I often wonder what happened to MAKE everyone in such a hurry and it makes me wonder if sometimes I am in too much of a hurry too? If you have ever built something for yourself, you will understand that it is one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have. Recently, I have started cooking for our family, largely because we did a kitchen reno and now have this ridiculous, fire breathing, beast of a stove that is mesmerizing to use! Anyway, in both undertakings, ironically enough, SPEED is almost never of the essence! I can't imagine having a host of guests to our home and having them complain we didn't cook their meals fast enough? Yet strangely enough, I sometimes wonder if I make my crews feel like they are not working FAST enough. We plan, we plot, we promise and we deliver. But what is the long term "cost" of "sticking to the timelines" I am certain that few people remember how FAST we completed their projects, but we sure do have a pile of folks who have hung on to how WELL we did them!

I know I am not alone in these reflections and certainly would be the last one to suggest that setting goals and timelines is somehow a destructive process. And in all honesty, I and the last one to force timelines on our teams that are unreasonable or the cause of undue stress, but the question remains, where has this dark force of impatience and empathies that run, full time on "E" come from? What can we do to fix it?

The answer clearly, is not simple but, as one of my past clients messaged me "Life flies by, sit back and enjoy it." That comment led me to think that as we might pause to understand that a 40 year old vehicle isn't going to peel away at a traffic light with the same umph as the newest Audi or BMW....or BMX for that matter, as homeowners, clients, employers, heck - humans, we should pause too to realize that carpenters, plumbers, electricians and trades of all descriptions are just "vehicles" in their own rights too. Each with their own unique set of strengths and limitations, each working to do their very best in a timely and quality driven fashion.

In our busy days, as we rush from place to place, maybe we could slow down a little to notice all the things about their day, to notice the nuances of what they do, and then...maybe if we aren't too late, give a little "beep" or a wave of admiration!

Have a grateful day! John