There was a great cartoon in a national newspaper several months back that showed parade judges standing on a reviewing stand as groups of marchers walked past, all dressed like ridiculous-looking noses. The parade marshal looks at one of his subordinates and screams, "No, you idiot, I told you to organize the Parade of Roses!"
I was reminded of that, strangely enough, as I opened a new dishwasher we bought and watched it almost fall out onto the floor. The installer had forgot a few screws or adhesive to fasten the unit securely.
What do these disparate things have in common? They both represent two related maladies we all see too much of these days: people not listening, and a lack of attention to details.
First the listening: How many times have you been in a conversation with someone when they interrupt you before you're finished to answer the point they thought you were trying to make—and in the process miss your point because they didn't listen? Or, they miss the significance of what you're saying because they're too preoccupied with their own agenda to listen to you. Example: an engineer says to his supervisor, "The design won't work, we have to change it." The supervisor answers, "Yeah, yeah, but are you on budget." He isn't listening.
The lack of attention to detail shows up in a variety of ways, in everything from mistakes in shipping orders, to parts that should but don't mate, to do-it-yourself assembly kits that don't have enough parts. It's epitomized by another great cartoon—as life's trials often are. This one shows rail workers from the East and West coming together to link the tracks, except that they're misaligned a few inches at the point where they're supposed to join. Someone wasn't paying attention.
Now mention all this to some people who have trouble listening or continually miss small things and they'll tell you, "Hey, I'm a big-picture guy."
Well, here's a solution: We should round them all up and sentence them to 30 days of assembling Christmas toys with packages that don't have enough screws or nuts. I think my dishwasher guy should be first.