Volume 39, Issue 2, February  2004


Three Monkey Act
   It’s Time to See, Listen and Speak Up

by Dez Farnady

I first saw the three monkeys many years ago in my uncle’s house. It was a small woodcarving. I did not realize at the time that they were the symbols of the industry in which I was to spend most of my adult life. The first monkey was covering his eyes, the second his ears and the third his mouth. I was misled at the time because I was not provided with the correct explanation of the significance of the three figures. Clearly, as symbols of the glass industry, they illustrate the motto, “I don’t care to see, I don’t want to hear and I am sure as heck not going to say.”

Ignorant, Foolish and Rude
The incident that reminded me of this was a recent conversation with a vendor’s rep. She was bemoaning the fact that her seminar was not well-attended. Surprise, surprise.

This well-known and well-meaning glass fabricator made the mistake of forgetting the three monkeys. The rep said her company went to the trouble of hosting an energy-performance product seminar for its customers. They spent a great deal of time and money to provide the room, the food and the speakers, not to mention their own time and effort. Invitations were sent out to their closest and best friends, their prime customers and commitments were solicited. Confirmations received notwithstanding, they ended up with only 10 percent to 15 percent of the committed showing up. This is a perfect example of the three monkeys—the ignorant, the foolish and the rude. 

We are all guilty of being ignorant, because only the ignorant refuse to see the opportunity to learn something new. We in the glass business, as a group, are notorious for the lack of interest in new products, new technologies and new ideas. We, in fact, dig in our heels and resist being dragged into the 21st century. I have been on this soapbox before. Just check the attendance at glass shows and glass seminars. 

We are all foolish, because we don’t listen and continue to miss opportunities presented to us by vendors and manufacturers who frequently go to great expense to make their presentations. They would spend more money and do more if they thought anyone would listen. There would be an opportunity that would allow them to show their wares. Big deal if it would include a little advertising. There has to be something in it for them. 

And, yes, we are rude, too. We do not have the courtesy to open our mouth if only to tell those who offer the information that we really are not interested. The extent to which we no-show at events to which we commit is downright embarrassing. I personally have been involved in several futile attempts at organizing functions at which it was easy to get the promise. Yes, we are really interested and, yes, it sounds like a good deal and, yes, we plan to be there. And then count the empty seats and the wasted food, time and money. 

Monkeying Around
I have complained about the complacency of the design professionals and have criticized the architects for their three-monkey act and here we are doing the same thing. The worst part is that we are doing it to ourselves. I will be the first to admit that most glass industry professionals are pretty boring when it comes to standing up and speaking to a group. However, this is not about entertainment. It is about product knowledge. The I-just-give-them-what-they-want or just-bid-what-they-specify style has carried us into the 21st century stumbling and fumbling with products we can’t even understand, much less recognize. 

We are just like the architect who walked out of my energy-performance glass seminar telling me, “Yes, we know all about that stuff—that’s why we always specify that black glass.” Well, like it or not, we were right there with him, stuck with the last century’s technology and keeping our eyes, ears and mouths firmly shut. 


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