Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Quality.

I've been feeling extra cynical lately and came to the conclusion that there is an incredible lack of quality everywhere, all the time. The only consistent factor is that you can count on some aspect of quality of some good or service you receive to be shitty. Plan on something being late, or wrong, or over billed, broken parts shipped, poor customer service, wrong item, the list goes on infinitely.

We have this issue at work with a vendor who is not giving us what we need, bringing us things late, wrong, ripped, broken, and we've been mis-billed every way you can imagine. Charged $53 for shipping when the company is literally 10 blocks up the street. For $53 bucks I'll walk up there, pick the order up, bring it back and spend less time getting it there sooner. Of course we're going to change to another vendor, but trying to finalize the final order has turned into a complex nightmare. And I've called managers and general managers and so far nobody's calling me back!

This is only one example of many we experience throughout our lives. There are about a hundred tangents I can go over illustrating a complete lack of quality. I guess I'm experiencing whatever the opposite of quality is (inferiority?).

The only saving grace out of all of this are the infrequent pockets of people who take pride in what they do. Like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day, you'll run into that great example of order, consistency, and courtesy. Of course somewhere along that example of quality's line there is a slacker screwing up the quality somewhere else, but that's okay.

In a similar quality-related story, the Space Shuttle Discovery launched again to deliver parts to the Space Station. As usual, there are concerns about the safety of the shuttle:

Minutes before the final countdown, launch crews discovered a 4-inch-long chunk of ice on a connector between Discovery and the external fuel tank.

The flight went ahead after safety officials decided the piece of ice was too small to pose a hazard, even if it came off during launch and hit the craft.

The whole story can be found here.

After much thought, I feel like I'm observing that there's not a lot of quality around. If there is I'm just focusing on the negatives. I remember thinking about this in depth the last time I traveled on vacation. The lack of quality started in the airport with the e-ticket check in and ended somewhere on the plane between the seat-back tray tables and the recycled pillows and blanket.

Anyway I hope everything goes well for those astronauts. What a dangerous profession, it's a real throw of the dice. I checked with NASA and yes, they are hiring astronaut candidates. The job announcement mentions a salary range for an astronaut from 59,493 to 130,257 a year. Is that salary worth flying into space on the gamble that you may or may not re-enter the earth's atmosphere intact?

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