Recently, my mother became ill, and I cared for her at home for a number of days before she passed away. Hospice services were provided by Medicaid and included a hospital bed, commode, large tray table on wheels and a chair designed for someone to sit in while being bathed.
After her death, I called the supply company to come pick up the
items, and was surprised to find that all they would take back was
the hospital bed frame. I was expected to deal with the rest of the
First of all, the waste is absolutely staggering. I understand not
reusing a commode, but for them to discard a brand-new mattress,
tray table and bathing chair, all funded by taxpayers, is
unconscionable. Imagine if hospitals or hotels did that!
They’d be out of business almost overnight.
Second, my mother lived in a small apartment in the middle of New
York, and there is no easy way to dispose of large items. Clearing
out the barely used equipment created significant hassle and cost
In a sad way, it reminded me of the times when I’ve had
construction work done at my home. Inevitably, the crew leaves
behind piles of dirt, wood or debris for me to take care of, and I
always feel as if I’m picking up after a teenager. When I had
a shed constructed in my backyard not long ago, the builder had to
cut a number of branches from a nearby tree to make room. They were
left in a large pile in the middle of the yard, presumably because
he felt it wasn’t his responsibility to chop them up and
throw them away. To the letter of the law, he was probably right.
But in the spirit of the law, he shouldn’t have nonchalantly
created a mess for someone else to clean up.
In the past, Pool & Spa News has published articles
about recycling building materials as well as making sure a job
site is in exactly the same condition when you leave as when you
arrived. While I still strongly embrace these practices as good
business, over time I have come to see the idea of cleaning up your
mess in a larger context. Leaving a job site the same, or better,
than when you found it can be a metaphor for other things.
In a sales or service interaction, making sure the customer is
happier at the end of the relationship than when it began is a
truly worthwhile goal. In dealing with staff and colleagues, every
exchange will have a more positive outcome if you strive to make
them feel appreciated and understood.
And, finally, there are the actual pools and spas. Whether
it’s retail, service or construction, continuously leaving
behind a great product, beautifully installed by friendly
professionals, will make our entire industry shine.