Warp Speed

September 18, 2007

threetoedsloth.jpgIt’s busy season at the printshop and I spend my day dashing between one project and the next. We’re short-staffed by about one person, and the last few weeks have been HECTIC! I guess that’s why the contrast was so stark.

After lengthy negotiations with our contractor, we’re back at work on the facade of the old building. Actually the negotiations weren’t lengthy. I talked and the contractor nodded and smiled. I guess they weren’t really negotiations either because none of the problems were solved. At any rate, we agreed that work would occur, and some actually has.

The painters and carpenters have been working on the storefront for about three days and the stained glass is being repaired. Inside the building, we’re moving at warp speed. Deadlines are being met, projects are coming in and going out the door. We’re busy and I think that life is good.

Outside the building, the painters are moving at sloth speed. I took five minutes to watch the show this afternoon and learn about conservation of energy. I think that was one of Newton’s laws.

Anyway, here’s how you prepare a storefront for painting. First you move the ladder (30 seconds). Then you look at the ladder (30 seconds). Then you climb the ladder (30 -45 seconds). Then you survey your surroundings, because such high elevations give you a perspective not shared by many mortal humans (45 seconds to 1.5 minutes). Then you extract the paint scraper from your pocket (15 seconds), after which you examine it (another 15 seconds) and use it to scratch your beard (30 seconds or until satisfied).

Holding the paint scraper in a vertical position, you then survey your surroundings again, taking note of anything that might have changed since the last survey (30 seconds). To prepare the paint scraper, you must tap the metal end of the scraper against the window ledge (15 seconds or more if necessary to dislodge the beard whiskers). You may now begin to scrape, but this should not require more than 45 seconds. At the end of 45 seconds, you drop the paint scraper and climb down from the ladder (.003377 seconds for the scraper to fall, 60 seconds to climb down). Then you pick up the paint scraper (45 seconds), stretch (10 seconds), yawn (5 seconds) and begin the process all over again.

My calculations tell me that at this rate of speed my storefront will be ready for painting sometime in the Spring of 2017. Jesus may get here first. The other interesting calculation has to do with the worker’s wages. According to the contractor, he’s being paid $8/hour. If I divide the price quoted for painting by the number of hours required at this rate of speed, I come up with an appropriate hourly wage of $.0000006429/hour. So, the painting work will cost either a couple of hundred dollars or $17.6 million. It’s only a small disparity, but one I think I’ll have to discuss with the contractor. I’ll negotiate. He’ll smile and nod. Nothing will be resolved.

Isn’t life grand?