Observation can be crucial

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 27, 2005

If there are more dreaded words that a man can hear I don’t know what they would be.

Monday, after a long day at the chamber office, I went home and spread the Montgomery Advertiser out on the table, and started reading.

(I like to read the comics first-in this order:

Foxtrot, then Zits, then Wizard of Id, followed by Dilbert, and then B.C.)

I was just half-way through Dilbert when I heard the words.

Even though there was probably a visible shudder by me, I tried to pretend that I had not heard them, hoping against hope that they would not be repeated again.

It was futile on my part.

My actions only resulted in the dreaded words being said again, only this time more loudly where it would be impossible for me to act like I had not heard them this time.

I tried my best not to have that “deer in the headlights” look as I slowly looked up from the comic page.

“Do you notice anything different about me?”

Those were the words that had been asked me…twice….by my wife.

I weighed my options.

I could make a run for it but she was standing between me and the front door.

So that was out.

I could try and change the subject but that had never worked in the past.

I could hold my breath and hope that the phone would ring or that I would pass out… but my luck is never that good.

No.

I knew that I would be forced to play a twisted version of Russian roulette, and take my chances at guessing the answer to the dreaded question.

“Do I notice something different about you”….hmmmm….let me see now….”

I tried to sound cool and calm when in reality my heart was racing a mile a minute.

I imagine I am like most men.

I am not overly observant of certain things so I would be clueless on what the answer should be.

I looked at her eyes…they were brown.

Had they always been brown?

I think so.

I am pretty sure.

So that’s probably not what is different.

What about the hair? Brunette….yes…. I definitely remember that my wife is a brunette…not a blond or red head….but my God…what about the shade….Is it lighter than normal?….Is it darker?….Or what about the length?

Has she just gotten it cut short or has her hair always been short?

Darn….why doesn’t the phone ring?

I think I will pass on the hair as being different…. I now move to the clothes.

Is the blouse she is wearing new?

It looks new.

But what if it is one she has worn fifty times?

The same with the pants.

I don’t remember them.

They look kind of new but how is a man to know for sure unless there is a Minnie Pearl type sticker dangling from them.

I look at her feet.

She is wearing sandals with a sand-dollar design on the strap.

Have I seen these before?

I am not sure.

It is time.

I have a one in seven chance of guessing the right thing.

I guess “the pants” by saying “Sure dear, I notice that you are wearing new pants.”

I write this article because some of us in the business world can also become lax at observing the important small things in our businesses.

It makes no difference if we are in retail, or manufacturing, or in a service business-being observant of every aspect of ones operations is an ongoing necessity.

Constantly observing our operations can lead us to improved operations, which result in better chances of profitability and survival in today’s competitive world.

And if I had only been more observant I would have guessed the sandals and not the pants….