Monday, January 31, 2011

Loose Tiles

I have spent a large portion of my life working in restaurants. Aside from cooking and serving food the most common activity in a restaurant is cleaning. When cleaning there are two approaches that are often taken; you can clean what people can see or you clean what is dirty.

When we clean what people can see it can produce a nice looking restaurant. The tables are clean, the counters are organized and the bathrooms shine. However below the polished surface we can find dirt. Move a plant and find an army of dust bunnies. Brush your hand across the underside of a table and find a message written in braille made of old gum.

On the other hand when we clean where it is dirty people may not notice our efforts but these hidden disasters are not waiting to be discovered.

One day in a restaurant I was managing we noticed that there was water spilled in the back room near our ice machine. We had an employee with some free time mop it up. A few minutes after he was done there was more water. Back he went to mop again, this time with instructions make sure to mop under the ice machine. Again a few minutes later the floor is wet. This calls for a deep investigation. Is the ice machine leaking? Has the drain hose been pulled away from the wall? As I knelt down to take a look I noticed water pushing out from below the floor tiles.

Beneath the ice machine we discovered a cracked tile, well discovered is not the right word since we had known it was there but had not bothered to move the ice machine just to have one tile replaced. Yes the ice machine had leaked and that water had slipped down below the tiles. It ate away at the grout and loosened an entire section of flooring in our back room. If we had put out the effort to replace one tile we could have saved the time, energy and money it took to lay an entire new section of floor.

This same principal applies to making changes in our lives. We can work on the things that others notice or we can work on the things that no one sees but which contribute to the mess. We can fix the floor so that the changes to the outside are solid.


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