Prime Coat—September, 2018

By Jerry Rabushka,

  Filed under: Departments, Lead, Primecoat

Jerry Rabushka

We’ve Got Change to Spare

Did you hear about the guy who kept making jokes about mistints? He got fired for “off-color” humor.

Shakespeare wrote about paint in Romeo and Juliet: “Epoxy on both your houses!” he said.

I’d like to do a whole column of those, but I can’t think of enough. But there is a story of a painter using a two-part epoxy calling up his dealer saying, “I just put down part A, now what do I do with part B?”

Things change. We bemoan how Kids These Days don’t know what a rotary phone is, well Kids These Days don’t know what smelly oil paint is either. When we were kids we used to wash our hands with turpentine. Oh, the good old days! I remember doing that and taking the paint off my hands—magic! It wasn’t like we did it every day, but I do remember it.

And what was so great about a rotary phone that we need to keep it in our world for ever and ever and ever? Remember calling up your friends?

Is Jimmy there?…No. (Silence) Well, who is it?

It’s Jerry.

Jerry who?

Jerry Rabushka.

How am I supposed to spell that? (sigh) Let me get a pencil. Does he know who you are?

No, but wait until I work for The Paint Dealer for 26 years, and he will…

(sigh again) Let me get your number.

Jimmy never gets the message, and you have to call again.

Back in the old days, painters didn’t have to work in the cold. Now they can. It’s cold but you can extend your season down to 35 degrees. Paint took longer to dry, didn’t level as well, did a lot of things, and you couldn’t take calls on the job because you had a rotary phone at home and your kids were on it all day anyway.

Remember too when you’d call a paint store and you’d get some crabby guy or gal answering the phone? Good luck with that these days. Online reviews have forced people into civility, at least on occasion.

I’m not sure what’s so hard about being nice to people. And if there’s one thing that’s changed for the worse in this industry, it’s that more people are complaining to me that more people aren’t as nice. They don’t respond, they don’t follow through, or they fly off the handle over the smallest mistake. Then you fix the mistake, but they refuse to be satisfied. We never like typos, but I always think of that famous version of the Bible that commands “Thou Shalt Commit Adultery” and I realize my mistakes could be worse.

Did you hear about the paint dealer that told his staff to lighten up, so they only sold pastels?

Back in ’93 I moved into an apartment complex, where a nice older lady named Clare was manager, or as her business card misprinted “Resident Manger.” Everyone liked her; I still drink coffee out of a mug she gave me that a former resident left behind. When she retired to a condo in Florida, people were rude as could be to the woman who replaced her. They couldn’t handle change and blamed someone who had nothing to do with it. It got so bad the complex told people they could break their lease and move out if they were that upset.

Change will always be part of the industry. Most likely very few will mourn the demise of two-part epoxy with a 30 minute pot life. Not even Shakespeare.