A court date put on hold when the power goes out: better maintenance would have kept things moving smoothly

July 20, 2006
A court date for the maintenance evangelist is put on hold when the power goes out. It was up to the power of maintenance to restore the power of the law.

I just have to share a story that’s a little embarrassing. But because it further validates the need for maintenance, I’m willing to endure some humiliation.

Recently, the North Carolina state highway patrol implemented “Operation Slowdown” by increasing patrol coverage to catch speeders. As fate would have it, they didn’t start the publicity effort until Monday, one day after it went into effect. Going the speed of traffic in my brand-new fuel-efficient car, I was nabbed for going too fast down the highway on the way to visit my dad. It was embarrassing and so out of character as many in my family call me the “old man” for driving so slowly.

Well, shortly thereafter, with much trepidation, I had to face traffic court. I arrived early to make sure I understood what was involved.

Several others who also had been ticketed were lining up outside the courthouse on Main Street.

Already embarrassed, I definitely didn’t want anyone I knew to spot me, so I waited in my car for court to open. Seeing several people congregate at the back door, a deputy opened it, went inside and screamed out to the clerk, the attorney and the judge that the power was out.

The wheels of justice were brought to a screeching hault until the wheels (and tools) of maintenance could get the court back into gear. Although they had the court staff in attendance, they couldn’t begin the day’s cases until a maintenance guy arrived to begin the necessary repairs to restore power. He went to work on the transformer, While the court staff, lawyers and plaintiffs were brought to a standstill, the maintenance guy shifted into high gear and went to work to repair the transformer.

They waited patiently, yet anxiously for court to reconvene with all the hopes at proceeding with the days events in the hands of the maintenance man. It was a time for me to savor the thought of justice waiting on maintenance.

Once the power was restored, the now happy court staff was in a good enough mood to give lenient penalties for the infractions before them that day. The power of maintenance had restored the power of law. I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing at the irony that I, of all people, was being saved in traffic court by a maintenance guy. Not only had maintenance restored order in the court, but it had perhaps saved me from a heavier sentence. Once back outside, I thanked the maintenance gods for smiling on me during my day in court.

As you go through the week, I pray that the maintenance gods smile on you as well and that you stay below the speed limit, as I will from now on. And remember industry, the service economy and even traffic courts can’t function without maintenance.

Having justice wait on maintenance was entertaining for me and, I hope, educational to the other perpetrators, lawyers and court personnel, but not all that many people were there for the lesson, and they're not the sort who are likely to help. A more effective way to raise our profile and influence young people to join our profession is to reach out with the popular media, which we're doing with different versions of the “Maintenance Crisis Song.” So far, there have been more than 45,000 free downloads of the song.

Currently, there are rock, blues, reggae, operatic, hip hop, funk and the original version of the song available as mp3 downloads at www.mpactlearning.com/maintenance resurces/useful links.asp. I am seeking other versions of the song and artists are encouraged to use the lyrics. Selected versions will be included in a future release of a CD, “Pipe Dreaming: Fix it or they will leave.” There also are various interviews and resources about maintenance available at the same link.

For yet more information on the maintenance crisis, see www.yesweekly.com/main.asp?SectionID=19&SubSectionID=45&ArticleID=1223&TM=65078.43.

Contact Joel Leonard at [email protected].

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