For the past 20 years, since our children were in school full-time, Nina has been a travel agent. She noticed that people in Montreal would never check other sources to see where they could get special deals on flights and hotels and as an avid reader of the NY Times from the day we left the States she would be amazed at the significant differences in prices vis-a-vis the States to those in Canada. She had not given any thought to the fact that most women in the travel industry entered because their husbands had business connections who traveled extensively and they were able to swing business in the direction of their wives. She also had not realized that friends who she assumed would begin to use her services had their own allegiances to their travel agents and that it is only when an agent makes a mistake that one looks to switching to someone else.
Our family situation was such that our personal travel consisted of putting the kids in the car at every opportunity in order to drive to either Jericho, L.I. or Malden, Massachusetts to visit grandparents. Rabbinical conferences usually took place in stellar locations such as South Fallsburgh, Liberty, or any of the other magnificent venues in the Catskills. Fortunately, once the title of Dr of Psychology was bestowed upon the male member of our family we were able to broaden our conference locations and did get to see more exciting cities in the U.S.
Nina learned quickly that in order to build a clientele it takes a long time and you really have to prove yourself. A quick lesson that she learned was that service is of the essence. When someone calls you and asks you for information, it is imperative to call them back immediately if you want them to even consider using your skills.
It is for that reason that we are totally baffled by the service industry that we have come across in the Bergenfield/Teaneck area. It seems to be a common denominator amongst contractors, painters, gardeners, etc. that they feel no sense of obligation to return telephone calls or to keep appointments they make. When and if they finally show up they say they will either call back with an estimate or return to do a job and never again are they seen or heard from.
Being “New in the Neighborhood” we asked several people for the names of contractors to do various jobs in our home. Frequently the same names kept being thrown around—every time we would call these names we would leave a message on their answering machines and never receive a call back. Common courtesy?—we think so—amazingly there seems to be so much business in this area that the average contractor could not care less about receiving more business. What a lesson it is for all of our children who have struggled through school to get degrees which in many cases has led them to a bleak job market.
Why aren’t we directing our children to learn the art of plumbing, landscaping, home building etc.How many people do we know who would not consider as a prospective shidduch for their daughter’s someone who is studying to be an electrician or a plumber? How silly are they! They would never have to wait to have their power turned back on or their toilets unclogged. What more could you want in life?
This situation almost reminds us of the days when we were afraid to give away the names of our best babysitters or cleaning ladies because we were afraid to lose them to someone else.
In a sense we want to thank the many people that have never called us back. We are realizing that some of the jobs that we wanted to have done we obviously did not need to have done anyway and we have saved lots of money. The few who came here and never called back with estimates had so many “extra” ideas of what really needed to be done in our house that they were busy spending our money before we even had a chance to think about it.
To families who have sons or sons-in=law sitting and learning in Yeshiva: encourage them to become contractors. Hopefully from all of their learning they have acquired the importance of being a mensch and returning people’s telephone calls.
By Mordechai & Nina Glick