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Archive for the ‘Serving others’ Category

MEET “VICTORIA!”

val2

The main character in

Victoria’s Valentine,

our family’s V-Day tale this year.

 

“Victoria” is really “Delilah.” Age: 5+ years here.

Owner/Rescuer: Darlene Serpa, Serpentine Saint Bernards,

Saint Bernard Rescue Foundation, Clearlake, California.

Source: Darlene serpatierra@mchsi.com.

Painter’s View: Why This Matters

Millions of people, including independent painters, scramble to find individual health insurance coverage for 20117. Staff painters collapse under the strain of paying sharply increased premiums and higher out-of-pocket costs, for health coverage under their employer-employee group plans.

 

WHY THIS MATTERS

 

Simultaneously, president-elect Donald J. Trump contradicts a pledge to President Barack Obama to retain and improve the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). And, he appoints, to Secretary of the Treasury, the Wall Street mogul Steven Mnuchin – the top congressional strategist against the ACA to engineer and guarantee its repeal by Congress by mid-2017.

 

WHY THIS MATTERS

 

Figures released November 30, 2016, estimate that over 20 million Americans will lose their health insurance in 2017, if the ACA is repealed. This means they and their families will lose access to preventive care. It means that persons with any pre-existing medical condition or history, even any acquired on the job, will no longer be able to get health insurance policies. And, even employer-employee group plans will groan under the weight of extensive riders.

 

WHY THIS MATTERS

 

At least 20 million households, of persons under Medicare age of 65, will no longer have access to preventive healthcare such as immunizations for flu, pneumonia, polio, TB, and shingles. They will no longer have access to affordable health maintenance benefits such as fitness/exercise clubs, nutrition programs and psychological counseling.

 

WHY THIS MATTERS

 

Workers will not be able to properly handle and manage their own fitness, wellness and health. Workmen’s compensation recovery periods will be much shorter. Family Care and Leave Act provisions will be sharply reduced; and employee jobs will not be reserved.

 

WHY THIS MATTERS

 

Hourly workers, such as painters, will need to return to work – after injury, illness, surgery – before their physicians and surgeons consider it safe and healthy to do so. Instead, workers will need to get back on the job very promptly to prevent (a) job loss; (b) future unemployability and uninsurability; and (c) personal/family financial insolvency.

 

WHY THIS MATTERS

 

All employment opportunities will be available only to persons whose health ratings are above 80 percentile, credit score is higher than 800, and educational level is at or above the STEM or Master’s level.

 

WHY THIS MATTERS

 

We will have come full circle. Job loss, unemployability and financial insolvency, in the midst of the collapse of the U. S’s health care and insurance systems, will be a no-win solution for everyone. Even the employed, employable and financially solvent. Even the billionaires that the president-elect will have serving in top White House posts, starting January 20, 2017.

 

WHY THIS MATTERS

 

Who sits in the Oval Office won’t matter then. Who sits on the White House Cabinet won’t matter. Who sits in the U. S. Congress won’t matter. Who sits in charge anywhere won’t matter. Because no one, not in these seats, will be well enough and able enough to care any more.

 

WHY THIS MATTERS

 

Real strength is always in numbers. And, the real numbers are located within our communities. Not on Capitol Hill. Which, by the way, has been and will continue to be in an internal mess. Trump “top drawer” people, or not!

 

WHY THIS MATTERS

 

Because you matter! Take a closer look around – and inside your own life.

 

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What matters is why it matters.

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Thank you very much for visiting “Painting with Bob” during 2016.

 

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter’s View: How Management Can Hold Onto Their Good People

In 2015, I read this quote by an icon in the Hospitality industry:

 

“When a good person leaves, look to the leader for the reason.”

 

Many things can be done to hold onto a good worker. Things that are above board, fair and constructive; also cost-effective in the long haul.

 

 

TWENTY-ONE WAYS TO HOLD ONTO A GOOD WORKER

 

 

  1. Honor the work anniversary of each staff member.

 

  1. Level with him or her about why you can’t afford to issue a pay raise.

 

  1. Regularly, offer staff members discount and gift cards for items sold at the hotel. Make the amounts large enough.

 

  1. Show that you’re serious about his or her written suggestions and “observations.” Authorize the staff member to look into one or more of them.

 

  1. Encourage small “teams” of staffers to follow through on at least one idea, that is doable at the time.

 

  1. Monthly, host an informal coffee break with staffers. Select and rotate the day of the week.

 

  1. Find out about your workers. Who are they? What do they like about working at the hotel? What special challenges are they dealing with?

 

  1. About your staff members: Who aspires to advance with the hotel, or in the industry? Doing what? Who is taking classes, or wants to do so? Who is interested in on-the-job training?

 

  1. Who is interested in “doing something else” at the hotel? What? When? Are they willing to work into another position?

 

  1. Encourage participation in staff activities and events. See that scheduling is convenient, costs are very low or free, and time commitment will not interfere with their personal responsibilities.

 

  1. See that a variety of staff activities and events are offered. And, put in an appearance at as many of them as possible.

 

  1. Promote team member mentoring and support. Encourage staff members to cover each other’s backs.

 

  1. Maintain an “open door” policy. Encourage all supervisors and managers to do the same.

 

  1. Do little things to let staff members know you are there for them. That does not mean you have to agree with them on an issue, or they with you.

 

  1. See that your workers get what they need to do their regular jobs.

 

  1. Never put any staff member in the middle of a conflict between you and his/her supervisor, or another staff member.

 

  1. Never accuse any staff member of any wrongdoing unless you’re sure – and your proof is 100 percent reliable.

 

  1. Never remove a benefit or offer unless it is the only option. Then, be up front about it and make the change as promptly and smoothly as possible.

 

  1. Forget the favors. Just be fair and honest!

 

 

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Managers that cover the backs of all staff members will find their own backs covered, too.

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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

 

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Jesse the Painter: The Pride of the United States and Mexico

Jesse V. came to the United States from Mexico to give his small family a better life. Initially, they settled in Miami, where a group of relatives had immigrated and, eventually, earned U. S. citizenship.

 

There, he worked as a painter, while Maria, his wife, stayed home to care for their toddler Doreen.

 

Jesse worked hard, accepting any job and toiling long hours, to make ends meet. He’d learned the painting trade back in Mexico City. /Where both he and Maria left behind their loved ones.

 

As soon as they arrived in the United States, Jesse and Maria applied for citizenship. The Miami relatives served as sponsors, tutored them in the English language, and helped them meet the other requirements. Just as promptly, they registered as legal residents of Florida.

 

Shortly after being granted U.S. citizenship, Jesse was given an industrial painting opportunity in the Chicago-Northwest Indiana area. He joined the International Brotherhood of Painters and Allied Trades (IBPAT). The job offered a much higher hourly wage, pension and family health benefits, and both job security and safety.

 

Jesse and Maria fit right into the area. They found a church that offered a Sunday mass in Spanish. The Hispanic population was starting to grow. So, they were able to form a few friendships with families, from Mexico, Puerto Rico, and South America. Always at the core of everything was Jesse’s love for his wife and children – and their devout Catholic faith. He talked a lot about his wife and children.

 

Eventually, they had three more children: a son and two daughters. Proudly, Jesse and Maria reared them to be good Americans, and good people. Yes, all of them knew Spanish and fluently communicated with family back in Mexico. Their home in Northwest Indiana was decorated with momentos that showed their great pride in Mexico their native land. Also, there were treasures everywhere that showed their great pride in the United States of America, their chosen home.

 

My father and Jesse worked together on a frequent basis. As the company’s superintendent, Dad often pointed out Jesse’s admirable attributes, strong work ethic and undaunting professionalism.

 

On the job, what Jesse lacked in height, he made up for in experience, skill, energy, and drive. He was motivated, and always jumped in, “a real self starter.” He had a happy personality, and smiled most of the time. He had a friendly, helpful and willing spirit.

 

At different periods of time, Jesse and I worked for the same contractor. Whether he was working on a commercial or industrial project, he gave it his 150 percent. He was consistently professional, punctual, loyal, and neat. He never complained about a thing. He worked beside other painters as a true member of that crew, or team, assembled to work on that project. He worked beside other tradespersons, and bent over backwards to make their jobs go smoothly.

 

He was interested in what others had to say, and he defended others to the limit. Yet, he had difficulty standing up for himself when someone talked about him. And, he had a stubborn streak, and did not like to be corrected.

 

The biggest joke about Jesse on the job revolved around the large thermos of fresh fruit juice – eg. cantaloupe – that he carried to work every day. Also, he always offered to shae the hot Mexican food packed in his lunch by Maria. Tamales, tortillas, tacos, enchiladas, etc.

 

One Thanksgiving Day, he and his family came to our country home for dinner. They brought along six home-baked cream cheese pies: 2 plain, 2 cherry, and 2 cinnamon. For 10 people. During the meal, I realized how Maria struggled to participate in the table conversation. After living in the U. S over twenty years, her English-speaking skills were limited. Yet, her immense pride in her family being American citizens radiated from her eyes. Sang from her voice. And, captivated you through her loving smile.

 

The saddest day in Jesse’s life in America came in the mid-1980s. His beloved wife, Maria, suffered a severe brain aneurysm. Within a few days, he had to decide for the hospital physicians to pull her off the life support machines. At his request, our family sat in the nearby ICU waiting room. Keeping his children company while their dad kept vigil at their mother’s bedside. And, reassuring Jesse and the children as the time drew near to let her die in peace.

 

I’ll never forget those last moments with Jesse and his children, proud Americans and proud Mexicans.

 

Jesse was different after he and his children buried Maria. Who wouldn’t be? He took off work to go home to Mexico City, where he visited with his brother, a physician who achieved great tv media recognition during recovery efforts after the massive earthquake in 1985. While in his native land, he also spent a lot of time with Maria’s family.

 

When he returned, eventually, to the job, he wasn’t the same. Yes, his workmanship and craftsmanship were still first rate. But, his soul was missing.

 

He and my dad became close. I became close with Jesse’s son-in-law, a coworker of ours.

 

From time to time, Jesse would simply be gone from work. Back to Mexico for one to two months at a time.

 

When my dad died suddenly in 1993, Jesse came by. He sat in our living room, and cried. He told me all about his pal, Bob. And, he told me all about the kind of friendship he and my father shared. I didn’t have a clue.

 

The last time that I saw Jesse. He stopped by to say “hello” and “so long” during our huge estate and moving sale in May of 1993. Like at work, he picked at me a little. “Bob, when are you going to get a girlfriend. You’re a good guy.” For some reason, his joking didn’t bother me at all. I saw how deep and genuine his vein of caring ran for his friend Bob – and Bob’s son.

 

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Thank you for visiting “Painting With Bob.”

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

 

“ERIK, G.M.”

Erik (not real name) had been the hotel’s general manager for over twenty-two years. I’d been told that he’d worked his way up from front desk clerk.

 

Few persons knew that his first job with the hotel had been “maintenance man.” When the engineering department consisted of three persons: engineer, painter and maintenance worker.

 

Erik learned the hotel business – hands-on – from the ground up. Literally. Without a college degree to back him up.

 

He had worked in nearly every department during his career. Thus, he possessed more than a basic awareness of each department’s function, and each worker’s job description.

 

Erik was one G.M. that a hotel staff/team member could not fool. He was one G.M. that every staff member could count on to understand what he or she was talking about, and was up against.

 

More than likely, Erik had been there, too.

 

We met in 2005, when I worked on two painting projects at his hotel. Erik got upset because one of the sub-contractors came to the site every day, and yelled – “bullied” – his own men.

 

One morning, Erik must have had enough. When my contractor came around and criticized my buddy’s and my paperhanging, he was confronted by the G.M., and two men wearing expensive dark suits.

 

In May, I received an email from Erik, through linkedin.com. Now retired, he said that he’d heard about the most recent job offer back at my old hotel. He gave his “30-second staff sales pitch.”

 

What shouldn’t have surprised me was how much he knew about that hotel’s operations. About the painting work that needed to be done there. Also, about the hotel painter’s job with any hotel.

 

Erik’s second starting job at his hotel had been “painter.” In fact, he had set up the paint shop there. He had established its “job description.” He had stocked its inventory shelves. He had written the guidelines that every painter since him has followed.

 

He told me something else that shouldn’t have surprised me either. His first job at – not with – his hotel was as a painter. A card-carrying IUPAT/IBPAT member, employed by a union commercial contractor in the area.

 

“Talking shop” with Erik has been a tremendous experience. He has been able to offer feedback from many vantage points within a hotel organization. Including as general manager, and painter.

 

Being able to “talk shop” with someone like Erik has been a well-timed gift!

 

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“A kind, gracious problem-solving attitude can save years of tears.”  Anonymous

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Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.” Copyright 2015. Robert Hajtovik. All rights reserved

Painting It: YOLO!

A favorite part of being a painter and decorator: Trying new things.

 

New projects. New surfaces. New spaces. New products. New materials. New techniques and methods. New supplies. New tools. New equipment.

 

Applying an old product or material in a new way. Using a standard tool in a crazy, unique way.

 

Re-painting a surface or space in an unusual, unheard-of color or effect. Installing wallcovering on a surface, or in an area, where wallcovering is never installed.

 

Applying a faux finish where it’s never applied. Texturing a surface that is not conducive to texturing. Spraying popcorn texture where it is very inappropriate.

 

Restoring a circa 1785 piece of badly damaged antique furniture, classified “total loss.” Refinishing a hotel full of guestroom furnishings, earmarked for the dumpster.

 

Brushing on a product that, according to the label, has to be sprayed on.

 

Spraying on a finish that demands brush application.

 

Applying a paint finish that’s reserved for an underwater surface. Spraying an industrial coating on a residential surface.

 

Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

 

I’ve used much of the last two years to do that. And, more!

 

The diverse use of my skills and abilities was not part of my plan in 2013. When extreme and extensive toxic exposure delivered a one-ton truck load of lemons…then a truck load of limes…at my doorstep.

 

However…

 

YOLO! (You only live once!)

 

So, why not? Let’s get to it!

 

Each new anything/anywhere – painting and decorating wise – will ignite your creative soul, at its core. Each new anything – in the other areas – will create a new world. Within you. Very possibly, within others, too.

 

Whatever you’ve been given:

 

Run with it! Charge up the hill, or down if that’s the direction you’re facing.

 

Forget about making lemonade with that ton of lemons. Squeeze enough to help the neighbor children run a little lemonade  stand. Pass some  out. Give some away. Return some. Sell some. Let some rot. Use some as fertilizer, or compost.

 

Do something different, or differently.

 

You’ll smile at the end of the day. At yourself. At others. At the universe.

 

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Thank you for taking an interest in “Painting with Bob.”

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Copyright 2015. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

HOSPITALITY PAINTERS CREATE FRIENDLY SPACES

“Hospitality painters create a friendly space where strangers can enter and find safety.”*

*Paraphrase of Stephen G. Post.

 

A hospitality painter’s goal is to leave a space in better shape that it was before. Its surfaces and areas in improved condition. Its appearance and appeal more inviting and alluring to the senses, and the psyche.

 

A safe hospitality painter follows all health and safety rules, standards, codes, policies, and procedures. Set by the trade and construction industry, product manufacturers, government, property owners/ business, and community.

 

A committed hospitality painter stays alert, keeps his/her nose clean, thinks ahead, pays attention, and does whatever it takes to take care of the space.

 

A creative hospitality painter looks, continually, for spaces to touch with his or her brush or roller.

 

An innovative hospitality painter seeks spaces that will test his or her skills with a spray gun system.

 

A construction-experienced hospitality painter actually “sniffs out” potential problems, and professionally applies his or her knowledge to minimize – and even prevent – structural damage and loss.

 

A diversified hospitality painter steps up to the plate, whatever the need might be, always willing to lend a hand.

 

A  flexible hospitality painter moves back-and-forth, in-and-out, up-and-down between projects, tasks and work orders with remarkable adeptness, agility, accuracy, and neatness.

 

A savvy hospitality painter represents a unique and appropriate blend of all of these key abilities and characteristics.

 

A hotel or facility that employs such a painter is, and will be, blessed beyond measure.

 

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Special praise to Mark C., Jay B., John L., Hosea F., Antonio F., Steve M., Paulo H., etc. – five-star, savvy hospitality painters and decorators.

 

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Thank you from “Painting with Bob” for checking in, reading, emailing, calling, and writing.

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Copyright 2015. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

 

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