I hate the word “Steady.”
We call our customers and politely interrogate them about their machinery needs. We often ask them a simple question, “How’s business?” The answer we often hear these days is, “It’s steady.” “Good,” we respond. But what I’d really like to say is, “What the heck does ‘steady’ mean?”
“Steady” is one of the most meaningless words in the English vernacular. It is a dodge, a way to say “it’s none of your business so I’m going to politely tell you to mind your own business.”
I’ve never seen a steady business. Each day is a struggle to get product out the door, put out fires, make mistakes right, and somehow collect more than you spend. It’s a balancing act of minor calamities, labile egos, flighty small talk and emotional bruises, mixing together on the shop floor to the tune of discordant air compressors whistling Dixie off key. Steady?
Maybe steady is in a bookkeeper’s or banker’s vocabulary because they absorb numbers, not faces. But if you are hustling customers, harvesting quotes figured to the second decimal point, or trying to measure a purchasing agent’s nose hair, there is only volatility soaked in hot sauce.
The sweet economic numbers are filtering in like the smell of a pumpkin latte with whipped cream. Frankly, a little too sweet for my taste. Confidence is the best since 2007, gas prices under $3 a gallon, unemployment shrinking, the Dow back up to 17,000–almost triple the 2008 bottom. Inflation is under 2%, the 10-year bond around 2.3%. Is this nirvana headed into Christmas? People even think they can quit their jobs and find a new one.
But it doesn’t feel that way to me when I talk to real people. Jobs may be available, but wages stink for the average Jane. They can’t get any money for their house and they struggle to save. Going into the election the mood smells sour and the negative advertising is so malicious from both sides, I just cringe and deaden the sound on the TV.
Yes, Virginia, we have an election in a few days. I’m so unexcited. What are the Koch Brothers and the Labor Unions and the doctors and lawyers spending a billion dollars on? The next Supreme Court Justice appointment is important, I suppose. The structure of ObamaCare (it’s not going to be repealed) will be debated. But we’ll all have gridlock in 2015, and I am quite happy with stalemate in Washington.
Two more years of thwarted politicians. I’ll take it. I wish the Koch Brothers and trial lawyers would just play volleyball. Everybody’s mood might improve.
I guess nobody’s watching but me and my barber, but this has been a wonderful World Series. Giants versus Royals. Kansas City has remarkable speed, the best outfield defense since Willie Mays played, and an almost perfect bullpen. San Francisco has one of the best left handed pitchers since Sandy Koufax and a group of guys who just know how to win ballgames. To a baseball lover it’s the best thing since Karmelkorn. I wish the series was best of 17 so I could revel in it for two weeks more.
The Dos Equis beer commercials with “the most interesting man in the world” are my favorite TV ads. I occasionally try writing my own copy. My lines are not quite as crisp, even to me, but I’ll share some. I challenge you to do better.
“Supreme Court Justices ask him for an opinion.”
“He blows bubbles that never burst.”
“Dolphins ask to swim in his pool.”
He’s the most interesting man in the world.
Happy Halloween. Welcome back NBA and Derrick Rose.
Question 1: How are you feeling today? Steady?
Question 2: Royals or Giants?
For question #2, I am still rooting for the Cubs.
We like you anyway Dave…
1. It’s never steady. Feast or famine in my business. Have never been more unsure of the future.
2. Royals all the way.
I had a girlfriend once who had trouble with understanding the word ‘steady’… I’ve been confused ever since so I can’t help you with this one Lloyd… sorry.
Royals can’t win wile the shuttlecocks are still around.
Yes I agree with the unsure future of Jacks statement above…I usually say we are holding our own and that means not good we are hoping and trying for better but with this government that isn’t helping one bit and continues to cost business more all the time.
We need someone that really cares and wants times to get better and I am a firm believer that private enterprise is better for the economy then what the government continues to try to feed people…Wake up America before its to late!
1. Our business is steadily volatile.
2. Don’t care.
I’m a Cubs fan, but I’m rooting for the Royals. I agree, this has been a fun World Series to watch!! No telling who will win game 7!
Your article has really caught my attention, the interpretation of the meaning you make of this word,the English is not my native language, in fact I speak very bad, but when I use this word in my language I mean ” I’m not in a good situation but neither is getting worse”,I think it’s a good way to define our manufacturing situation. I do not use it to bypass an answer.
I’m rooting for the Royals. I still hold Barry Bonds against the Giants, and Hunter Pence should learn to blouse his pants BELOW his knees. It’s a toss-up between Bochy and Yost, but you gotta love Rusty Kuntz, he has more fun in the game than any first-base coach I’ve ever seen!
Many processors in plastics say ” I am running 7 days a week with no backlog”
Heck Loyd, You may be the most interesting man in the machine tool industry.
We have a saying. “Nae fear o’ steady men”. Somebody you can trust is steady away. Can be trusted
The World Series is over. The greatest pitching performance in World Series history by a 25 year old MAN named Madison Bumgarner. I feel blessed to have been able to witness it. Bumgarner is so remarkably calm and focused. I believe him when he says he just wanted one out after another. He never got ahead of himself. He was just in the moment. This was an example of the power to concentrate one’s ability without succumbing to the pressure of the moment. Wow. Bumgarner is the most interesting man in he world.
The Chevy Guy was pretty interesting. I felt sorry for him.
If anybody said the business is steady that mean they have a job and thankful for it.
I always enjoy your blogs Lloyd, but you have scaled new lyrical heights in this one:
“—trying to measure a purchasing agent’s nose hair, there is only volatility soaked in hot sauce.”
“The sweet economic numbers are filtering in like the smell of a pumpkin latte with whipped cream.”
Thanks, that’s vintage
“Nuns pray near him just to feel closer to God.”
“Trees bend toward him to soak up the light he emits.”
“The sun sets slower if he’s watching.”
Not great, but I had fun exercising the rarely used right side of my brain 🙂
Thanks Peter. I’ve got to use those language lobes or they’ll get soggy. When I was doing the monthly column for the magazine I took more risks with language. I’m going to return to my loquacious roots and have more fun with my words. I get to do this. I don’t have to do it.
Thanks for taking note.
I work for a progressive company and our sales are great … but during a recent meeting management was reluctant to say that the economy had recovered and good times were ahead. I think it’s because the upper class is afraid that America will see that the recovery is at hand and times are getting much better under our President and his democratic policies. They are afraid that the working class will push for higher wages and want a piece of the pie again … they are really afraid of the minimum wage going up because they know that will cause an increase across the board rather than to just the top group. Gee more money for the people who buy everything, who would want that? Just think if the greedy Koch brothers gave those millions to their employees in pay raises, instead of wasting it buying politicians who will never get back into power as long as Americans can remember what happened to our great country when it was under Bush’s failed policies and the 2008 crisis. This is a great and powerful country … we just waste our resources on war and wealth building for the 1 percent instead of making it a better place for everyone to enjoy.
Everybody who works for the Koch brothers think they are great! I bet they pay better than Soros (who is afraid of having his name mentioned).