Simple Advice

Daven and Lindee Claerbout
Daven and Lindee Claerbout

“Stay out, we’re full.” These words were carefully sewn onto a patch, surrounding an American flag.  It caught my daughter Lindee’s eye as she pointed it out to me in the Milwaukee airport.  Sadly enough, it wasn’t on a trash can or toilet stall, rather on the jacket worn by a fellow American.

This occurred in June of this year, as Lindee and I prepared to catch our flight to Atlanta.  Surprise gift from Dad for her 32nd birthday: attend the Chipper Jones/Braves Hall of Fame Induction Luncheon and two Braves’ games.  So while our minds were racing with thoughts of baseball and seeing some MLB stars, we still discussed the patch occasionally during and after our flight.  Just wondering, what was the guy’s intent?  Who actually took the time to ‘think of that,’ prepare the artwork, manufacture the part, market the part, sell the part and obviously we know who bought the part.  Wow, a lot of people saying, “Yeah, this is ok.”

Fast forward to meeting just the opposite attitude as Lindee and I walked the streets from our hotel looking for – and my mom is going to be so mad – a tattoo parlor so we could have an A put on our ankles.  And I’m not talking just a temporary tattoo, but a permanent one and for each of us, our first one ever.  I located the address of a place and was confident like any full-blooded American guy that I could find this place without seeking directions.

Three miles and four blisters later, Lindee approached a Hispanic woman at a crosswalk and asked her for directions.  It was very apparent that she could not speak English and almost seemed startled.  However, a warm smile appeared on her face as Lindee began speaking Spanish (one of her majors in college and one of many classes I actually tried to cheat in) with her.  They had a nice conversation and at the end of the day, we still couldn’t find the parlor.  However, we found a person who was friendly to us, despite our differences.

My father, Lindee’s grandfather, always taught us to treat people like we want to be treated.  And for you and me, that means fellow employees whether they are people who report to us, people we report to, or people who work next to us.  Ask yourself:  Are you going to be a “Stay out, we’re full” type of person OR a ¿Cómo puedo ayudarle? (How can I help you) regardless of language or cultural difference type of person?  The end result will be your choice.

Before I forget, we’re still tattoo-less.

Daven J. Claerbout is the Vice-Chairman and Chief Relationship Officer of Dutchland Plastics. He is a Past President of ARM and a member of the Rotational Molding Hall of Fame.

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One response to “Simple Advice”

  1. Thank you, Daven. This is courageous what you’ve written here. Having our diversity unite us has helped make our country great; unfortunately, some choose to view diversity as divisive and a convenient place to assign blame. Count me in the “como puedo ayudarle” crowd.

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