The Hat  
b y L y l e R . H i l l  
once heard that “Experience is the and we really need to get paid.”  
out to install them?” he asked with a  
harshest of teachers because she  
gives you the test first and the les- roared into the phone, “because if you hind schedule and these guys are driv-  
son afterward.” I guess this is true, but are, I’m taking you out of the hat!”  
ing me crazy. They want their building  
I always liked what Bismarck had to say  
Now at this point in the conversation finished as soon as possible because  
“Are you threatening me?” he now raised voice. “You know the job is be-  
about experience. He was the one who I was completely baffled. What could they have tenants ready to move in. I  
said, “Fool you are to say you learn by “taking me out of the hat” possibly want your crews on site tomorrow and  
your experiences; I prefer to profit by mean? Was this the equivalent of sim- I don’t want any excuses!”  
the mistakes of others and avoid the ply “taking me out” as in “rubbing me  
“I’ll do what I can, John, but we’re  
price of my own.” Now I don’t know out” or “wiping me out?” Being from pretty busy right now and I don’t have  
which Bismarck it was who said this … Chicago,I am familiar with these kinds a man to spare.”  
the one they named the World War II of terms,but I had never heard of being  
battleship after or the one that invented “taken out of the hat.”  
“That’s not my problem,” he yelled.  
“You’re killing me!”  
“John, I certainly understand your  
that long donut thing … but either way,  
“John, I must confess ignorance,” I  
he was right. There is a great deal that stated. “Please tell me what taking me dilemma,” I replied calmly. “And I cer-  
we can learn from other people’s expe- out of the hat means.”  
tainly hope you’re not accusing me of  
“Okay,”he began,“you asked and so I’ll being irresponsible.”  
“I’m not accusing you of anything,  
riences—both good and bad.  
I could sense he wasn’t having a good tell you. Each week I take all of the bills  
day and that my phone call had both- that are due for payment and I put them yet!”he screamed.“But I better see your  
ered him, but I wasn’t having the best in a hat. Then, depending on how things crews installing glass tomorrow or else!”  
of days either, and I had a right to call. are going, I randomly pick so many bills  
“John,” I replied,“are you calling me  
He owed us a fair amount of money out of the hat and pay them. This way a deadbeat supplier? Are you threaten-  
and most of it was long past due. I had everyone has an equal chance of being ing me? Because, if you are, I’m taking  
committed myself to remaining calm, paid. I think this is a fair approach. Un- you out of the hat.”  
and I was determined to be both firm fortunately for you, you just haven’t been  
and yet as pleasant as possible. lucky enough to be one of the bills that  
“What?” he screamed.  
“Well, John, after that conversation  
John,” I began, “were you pleased got picked out for payment.But I like you, we had a few weeks ago … I’m sure  
with the work we did for you?” so believe me,I’d hate to have to take you you remember … it was the one about  
Yeah, your guys did a nice job,” he out of the hat and take away any chance us getting paid in a timely manner  
replied. you might have for getting paid.” your explanation impressed me so  
And do you feel that we charged you “Well, thank you, John, I appreciate much that I immediately went out and  
a fair price for the material and labor that,”I replied.“And we like you, too, so followed your example.”  
that we provided?” if I’ve offended you in any way, please “What in the world are you talking  
Of course,”he responded.“I wouldn’t accept my apology.The last thing in the about?” he asked.  
have given you the job in the first place world that I want to have happen is to  
“John … I bought a hat of my own  
if your price wasn’t good.”  
I could now detect a fair amount of  
be taken out of your hat!”  
A few weeks went by and we  
… and you and your job are in it.” n  
agitation in his voice, but I pressed on. received some, but not all of the  
that, and we certainly appreciate your day the call that I had hoped for  
business. However, you owe us a lot of came in.  
Okay,”I continued,“I’m glad to hear money that was due us. Then one  
L y l e R . H i l l is the managing  
director of Keytech North America,  
a company providing research and  
technical services for the glass and  
metal industry. Hill has more than  
money, John, and we need you to get  
“Lyle, it’s John,” he began.“Did  
the reflective units come in yet for  
Are you calling me a deadbeat?” he the Lombardo project?”  
“Yes, we received them several  
your account brought up-to-date.”  
40 years experience in the glass and  
asked with a new level of agitation.”  
metal industry and can be reached at You can read his blog every  
other Monday at  
“No, I’m not,” I calmly replied, “but days ago,” I replied.  
these bills are several months past due  
“Then why haven’t you been  
USGlass, Metal & Glazing | September 2016