EDITOR'S BLOG: Slow Down!
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Released in 1958, the late Larry Williams’ bar-blues hit recording of “Slow Down,” which was later recorded and turned into another hit by The Beatles (for what it’s worth, I like Williams’ version far better) has a great message for busy industry folks in its title alone… slow down.
In an industry where everyone is constantly cranking, and in too many cases where one person handles the jobs of more than one person on a routine basis, it’s easy to get swept up in the daily business rush. After all, there are daily orders to fill, deadlines to make, proposals and reviews to write, meetings to attend, business travel, equipment and processing areas to clean and sanitize before the first shift …and the list goes on and on. But the problem is, the more you rush…the more likely you are to make mistakes
A former boss of mine was very easy going but was forever on the run. One afternoon as we arrived at O’Hare Airport in preparation to fly to Amsterdam to participate in a company meeting with our international staff, he forgot to bring his airline tickets. Luckily, his wife, who drove him to the airport, was contacted on her way home and retrieved the tickets and got them back to her husband in time for his flight. He didn’t even break a sweat.
On another international trip while working at another publishing company, my colleagues and I had to rush to the hotel following a late meeting in Holzminden, Germany, pack and gather our luggage and race to the airport around 2 a.m. to make a flight to London. We made it onboard with minutes to spare, but the senior company officer traveling with us lost his winter coat along the way and was too disgusted to buy another one for the last legs of our six-country journey. As a result, he caught a bad cold and was sick for weeks.
It especially never pays to rush while you are fatigued. One night while finishing writing a feature,which took weeks and many, many hours to write, I was rushing to file the report when I inadvertently hit the wrong key and my story simply vanished from the face of the Earth. It had to be totally recreated by 5 p.m. the next day…and it was. Luckily, I had spent so much time on the report I basically recreated it from memory. But I couldn’t do that again today; I probably wouldn’t be able to tell you what I had for dinner last night.
Once at a major meat plant, one of the workers assigned to take me up on a stainless steel catwalk that overlooked the production floor so I could take some photos, saw someone signaling to him at the end of the catwalk. Instead of walking slowly over to his colleague, he jogged on the wet, gridded metal surface. He didn’t slip, but he could have and the end result of that slip could have been deadly.
I also recently witnessed a line-worker in a slaughter/packing plant rushing through his job of prepping packaging for product. One of the empty packages fell over before product could be placed inside on a very fast-moving line. My heart went into my throat as the young man instinctively jabbed has hand perilously close to equally fast-moving machinery to stand the package to the upright position in time for filling. He was so fast that had I blinked at the wrong time, I would have missed it. This indicated to me that this wasn’t the first time he had done this. Although the plant manager, who was standing next to me, said nothing, I could by the look on his face he was going to have a little chat with this worker after I left the premises.
We’re all guilty of rushing through things on a daily basis due to increasingly hectic schedules – and everyone makes mistakes. But it would be far safer, sometimes literally, to bite the bullet…and do as the late, great Larry Williams suggested decades ago: Slow down!