– Day 13 – I Hate Jerks.

Roxanne Rockvam

“I Hate Jerks”

Kenny Chesney has some pretty amazing music. But, even better is his No Shoes Radio station on Satellite Radio.  It has this total vibe of the Caribbean and boating. Not a bad vibe. 🙂

In between songs Kenny and company will relay stories from the road.  Today’s caught my interest on my way to work.  He told a story of the marina he keeps his boat at in the Keys.  He specifically mentioned the Dock Master.  This person came up to him, gave him a newspaper, and said “this is the best paper you’ll ever read” to which Kenny said, “Why?” and the Dock Master said, “because you’re not on the front page, the middle page or the back page.”

Great example of how customers at a marina can truly enjoy their time with the crew.

I’m going to let you in on the hidden life of a dock master or in my case general manager.  Our number one, I repeat, number one job is safety.  That’s it.  Everything else falls in place when safety is achieved.

Most likely the Dock Master that Kenny speaks of was on morning rounds to visually check every slip.  It’s a must do.  But checking for new hazards, like a broken line, or leaking “something” is critical to maintaining a safe environment.

Here’s a secret, if you really want to anger a good Dock Master, distract them.  Especially by getting hostile and out of control reckless.  This is why.  There is a constant focus to watch everything going on at all times.

For our marina, we have gasoline sales, a giant forklift, and boats with propellers.  There are wet docks, electricity, tripping hazards, and ropes.  Now mix into it wind, excessive heat, weather changes and alcohol.   Nothing is predictable.

My obligation is to my crew and their safety.  Sure, there’s some absent minded motivational saying that “without the customer there is no business” that was clearly written by a customer because at a point, there are hundreds, thousands, even millions of customers.  Let me prove it. There are over 300,000 registered boats in Minnesota alone.  But my dock crew is age 16+ and the last thing I want to do is have to call their mom and tell them there was an explosion on our dock. Therefore, their safety comes above all.

Did you catch what I said… about an explosion?

Yes.  This is why a Dock Master gets really angry if you distract them.  It only takes 3 things to create an explosion at a gas dock.  You need oxygen, fumes, and a spark.  We have two at all times.  Therefore, you focus on mitigating sparks.  If you distract us, it is dangerous.

Now… let’s review the biggest jerk I’ve ever had to deal with…. and I’ve dealt with several over the past 2 weeks, but this is the biggest in all time.  His boat has a problem and he brought to our dock, unannounced.

Arriving unannounced is very bad protocol.  You should do the courtesy of letting any Dock Master know you are arriving.  We need to know the nature of your boat problem so we know where to have you dock.

So this overweight, red faced, jerk is all worked up and angry that his boat is not working.  He’s yelling at me for absolutely no reason and the distraction has begun.

Let me also state that the weather today was over 90 with high humidity.  This is also a danger, not only for the health of an out of shape angry customer but also for it’s heightened danger for gasoline fumes because they do not dissipate quickly.

I asked him what was going on.  He said “Oh you know” – honestly… no clue.  I asked, “I need to you to fill out a service report” and he said, “I am not filling out anything”.  I asked, “What is the nature of the problem” and he said, “You didn’t fill it with oil.”  Now I know who he is and I’ve heard about the incident from my other crew.  I said, “You put oil in and it’s out?” and he said, “That’s it. I’m not telling you”

Now I’m distracted and pissed off.  I have no idea if I have an environmental spill in progress, or an explosion risk. I could have both if the oil is leaking in to the bilge that will discharge.  But this jerk won’t even tell me what the problem is.

His daughter happened to be coming off the dock and I could get information from her.

I took her inside and was able to get a service report filled out and then I got a call on our radio that a big red truck was blocking our warehouse door and launching ramp.

I’ll give you one guess as to who was the owner of the big red truck.  Yes, our friend the jerk.  He was standing there when the call came in on the radio, and he looked at me and said, “I’m not moving my truck”  He’s blocking the ramp for our forklift, but more important he’s blocking the access for emergency vehicles if needed, and I still haven’t determined the actual nature of the problem of the boat that is on our fuel dock.

Finally, in the course of his incomprehensible behavior he has now distracted 5 more of my crew to determine who owns the truck.

Next he started making demands that I call our owner and all sorts of other nonsense.  I said no.  Then he raised his voice and distracted the two or three members of my crew inside our store/office.  Again, when you really want to piss off a Dock Master, continue to make a scene.

But as a Dock Master you also have the responsibility to maintain control of your facility.

I told him to leave.  I said “go home”.  “Get out of my store”.  There is something to learn from the continual brutal assault of a bully that cannot even function in society as a normal human, you do not ever ever ever ever have to put up with their amazing array of bull _____.

There is an HUGE difference between “service” and “servant”.  While I will give service, I am not your servant.  Remember this distinction in your business. You provide service but you are not a servant.  Never let yourself or your crew be treated, as my crew member said, “inhumanely”.  You owe yourself and your crew better behavior.

My first and only job is to safety.  Without safety there is nothing because what you have is an accident, loss of property, damage, injury or even death.

You NEVER sacrifice anything for safety.

We have a 4 level pillar system for operations.

  1. Safety
  2. Courtesy
  3. Experience
  4. Efficiency

Here’s an example:  Our forklift must keep going, unobstructed, to maintain it’s schedule to provide a good experience for our customer.  Now… if a child runs in front of the forklift, the forklift must stop… #1 safety supersedes the #4 goal of efficiency.

If I have a jerk that comes in and will not tell me the nature of the problem with his boat and refuses to move his vehicle off the ramp impeding access for emergency vehicles and our forklift. He is violation goal #1 safety and therefore you cannot get to #2 of courtesy.

Accidents happen so quickly.  I did have the privilege of attending an amazing safety training with my husband several years ago.  He’s a retired police officer and several area law enforcement departments attended this training.  The main take-a-way was that every accident is preceded by 4 “negative” events that alone will not cause an accident.

Think back to a car accident.  You probably had speed, road conditions, balding tires, none of which would independently cause the accident.  But throw in distraction and CRASH.

Well, did I mention we had fumes, oxygen and high humidity…  and that is why you can really anger a Dock Master by creating a “me me me” scene which distracts several members of their crew.

Here’s your take-a-way for today.

Learn your operation standards in 3 or 4 quick easy words.  I learned this from Disney Institute Training.  Mine are 1-safety, 2-courtesy, 3-experience, 4-efficiency.

Next, recognize when you are on the trajectory to an accident and do what ever you need to stop that 4th ingredient.  Chances are it won’t make you popular.

But at least in my case, preventing the explosion will keep me off the front page, middle page, and back page of the newspaper!

Still on my mini break!  I hope you’re enjoying my daily life experiences… (roll eyes).

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