Smelly feet and inadequate skills

A couple of weeks back, we called in our regular plumber Manas, to fix the flow of water in Amma’s bathroom. Manas came over and diagnosed the problem. He said the “mixer” assembly had to be replaced since it was not working and it couldn’t be repaired. We told him to get it replaced and if possible to do it that day itself. He said he would try doing it the same day or else he will get it done the next day.

That evening around 4 pm Manas sent his deputy, a young boy. I asked him to remove his shoes and he said his feet would smell so he cannot remove his shoes. I reluctantly let him come in with his shoes and trudge all the way to Amma’a bathroom. As a practise we ask everyone who comes home to leave their shoes outside or just inside, near the door. We believe it helps to keep the house clean. We have several pairs of flip flops that we offer to our guests.

Anyway, I asked this young boy if he knew what had to be done and he said he had worked in many of the apartments in our complex… and he didn’t know where the main valve was to stop the water from coming into the bathroom. All my instincts were screaming out aloud to ask him to just leave the stuff and have Manas come and do the work. But I went against my instincts and let him start the work. He worked for almost two hours. In the meantime, Krishnan came back home and made him remove his shoes. He tried arguing with Krishnan that he never removed his shoes and Krishnan told him, he is working in our home and these were our rules. And yes… the smell was unbearable !!

The flow of water improved marginally and when I asked him why, he gave me a bizarre logic that the water from the geyser flowed with less force because it was coming from the geyser while the cold water was coming directly from the overhead tank. I may not have trained to be a plumber but I did learn physics in school and college and my dad was an expert !!!! Appa managed electricity and water supply for army/air force/navy stations and I learnt to fix minor electrical and plumbing issues from him. So immediately I called Manas and told him to come over and fix the issue.

Manas came and worked for another two hours and water gushed out with the same force from both the hot and cold taps !! The young boy should have ideally learnt a lesson but it didn’t appear as though he was willing. While the young boy was working, I was chatting with Vandana and we both were discussing as to how there is a huge demand for skilled manpower and very few takers. The plumbers and electricians just give you strange explanations about why something works and something doesn’t. She had a geyser installed and it leaked… rather than fixing the issue the technician told her that’s how the geyser was designed ?%$* Really? On one hand you have everyone saying there are no jobs, and on the other hand you have unskilled labor flooding the market. So in reality, there are plenty of jobs, just not the kind that you want.

More importantly, Vandana called it right – there is no pride in one’s work. We have been fortunate in finding a really good electrician in Nityanand and in the past seven to eight years, its Nityanand who gets called to fix any electrical issue that we have at home. Like us he has regular customers who refuse to call any other electrician. He makes enough money and lives a decent life. He has recently picked up a job but we still get him to come over when he has the day off. We will keep the work pending, but not let anyone else do it. Manas, the plumber actually has more work than he can handle, because he is really good at it. Both these guys are skilled and take a lot of pride in their work. Their work is never shoddy and customer satisfaction is guaranteed !!

Get skilled, take pride in your work and never go hungry … but who is listening ?

2 thoughts on “Smelly feet and inadequate skills”

  1. We have a similar situation here. Lots of people don’t want to do skilled trades like plumbing and electrical work thinking they should get university degrees to be successful. Meanwhile, so many university graduates are all competing for the same few jobs. Meanwhile, plumbers make very good money and are always in demand – and they can even charge emergency rates. When can I charge someone double because they need emergency technical writing?! But if someone’s home is flooding due to a plumbing issue they can charge pretty much anything they like.

    Colleges here that teach trades are working hard to promote themselves so that more people fill the gap.

    • Wow, thats great insight from a developed country !! Here we think this is a very “developing” country problem. We do have the Industrial Training Institutes that offer certificate and diploma programs in different trades. Except for a few states these institutions are in decline. They need to be revived.


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