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 Post subject: "Great Quotes"--So What Have We Learned?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 6:18 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8355
Location: Baltimore, MD
So, we now have, in another thread, approximately a hundred examples of:

1) Ignorant/uninformed patrons asking "stupid" questions or making ill-informed comments;

2) People loudly professing their ignorance and insisting they know more than the folks that actually run/own the stuff;

3) Asinine staff/volunteers misleading the uninformed public with wiseacre or insulting answers, occasionally with no apparent effort to then provide a correct answer.

So........ what have we learned?

What a LOUSY job we do educating the public? Unfortunately, that is indeed one possible answer. In the cases where that's a completely accurate assessment, what should we be doing differently?

There tends to be very little we can do about #2 above. What can we do for #1 and #3?


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 Post subject: Re: "Great Quotes"--So What Have We Learned?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 7:18 pm 

Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2007 10:57 pm
Posts: 247
Location: Birmingham, AL
I do think any Genuinely interested patron asking a question, no matter how "ignorant or "stupid", deserves a proper answer. That being said, I have sometimes given a "smart ass" answer to see their reaction. However, I always followed up with the correct info.

As for the know-it-all, "experts", etc. there's not much you can do with them except nod and go about your business. They think they're expects and you know they're idiots. Still no reason to be rude to a patron.

I think we should take the time to educate if we can. You obviously can't spend an hour explaining all the details of how a steam engine works when your working the train. However, you can suggest where someone can get futher info. I have many times directed patrons to the internet or a book for further info.

My 2 cents.

Bill


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 Post subject: Re: "Great Quotes"--So What Have We Learned?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 7:36 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:25 pm
Posts: 1808
None of the above.

In any workplace setting I know of, colleagues occasionally get together and vent about the frustrations of the job. For example, at the College where I was employed we would joke "our jobs sure would be easier without the students." We did our work day in and day out, met some very nice people, solved some complex customer service issues, and at the end of the day (or week, or at lunch) we'd share stories.

The railroad heritage and tourism business attracts its share of Special People. But no more so than any other avocation I've been involved in over the years.

To sum up, the Great Quotes thread is an electronic verison of conversation around the water cooler, hole 19, or lunch.

Wesley


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 Post subject: Re: "Great Quotes"--So What Have We Learned?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 7:43 pm 

Joined: Wed Aug 25, 2004 4:18 pm
Posts: 216
Location: Pittsburgh PA
wesp wrote:
To sum up, the Great Quotes thread is an electronic verison of conversation around the water cooler, hole 19, or lunch.

Wesley


Wesley said it better than I could. The purpose of starting the thread was not to be educational in any way, but to take a break from the "nuts and bolts" of preservation to share a lighthearted story or two. I too think that anyone who shows rampant disgust for a "stupid question" should probably not be in a job where they are being asked them. While some of the know-it-alls come looking for a fight, I generally do my best not to give it to them.

That said, the "great quotes" thread has provided an entertaining look at what it is that we do. I'd liken it to a lunchroom conversation or a story told across the cab while waiting for the highball. Thanks to everyone for providing some good stories!


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 Post subject: Re: "Great Quotes"--So What Have We Learned?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 8:14 pm 

Joined: Mon Apr 03, 2006 3:28 pm
Posts: 72
Location: Port Orchard, Wa.
As I have been reading some of the "Great Quotes", it takes me back 30 years to my one" hands on"contribution to Railway Preservation.

I volunteered at a nearby steam museum at age 16. I've always been able to understand machinery, and could fabricate, weld and paint. I also had more than just a passing interest in all things rail, and a good work ethic. I have Old School Parents,and played football for an Old School Coach, so I was used to....People.

My assignment (after convincing them I wasn't there to steal stuff) was to scrape the running gear of an ancient consolidation parked in the blackberry bushes, which I gladly did.

What I didn't know was that I was on the rail preservation equivilent of a snipe hunt, with every question I asked being answered with a progressively more ridiculous "it's over by the muffler bearings' type of answer.

With a great deal of discussion about where the next generation of preservationists are going to come from, folks might take time to think about who's listening to the answers you give people. I was volunteering there because Doyle McCormack and Jack Wheelihan (sp?) at an AFT stop took the time to give me (at age 14, and with a great deal of humour) some straight answers to stupid questions, so I could understand just how important Railway Preservation is.

Still contributing to ORHS....

Cheers, Dave


Last edited by Hillcrest on Fri Feb 01, 2008 12:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: "Great Quotes"--So What Have We Learned?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 9:17 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2005 11:54 am
Posts: 609
Yes indeed, Jack Wheelihan does a great job of explaining the equipment and workings of steam locomotives. Particularly fascinating when you consider that he managed the Product Installation Group at EMD for many years.

MX

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"We Repair No Locomotive Before Its Time"


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 Post subject: Re: "Great Quotes"--So What Have We Learned?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 10:05 pm 

Joined: Tue Jan 31, 2006 10:12 pm
Posts: 45
ADM's listing above as he indicates are some of the hundreds of ignorant and stupid questions asked out of how many thousands posed? Most people who are ignorant on a subject remain silent as opposed to asking a question they feel is stupid. I'm proactive when acting in a docent capacity to help people relax and get their questions out. Yes,for sure you have to deal with the know it alls but I don't find their numbers all that great in my experiences. They do provide a source of entertainment occasionally. Being cheerful and upbeat is really important. At a Thomas the Tank event in Utica a few years back,while giving "tours" of the 6721, I had a 9 year old boy ask me the most amazing questions about superheaters and the function of the blower. Clearly he was past Thomas and Edward in his knowledge and I was afraid he was going to ask me for the precise chemical composition of coal. He made the whole day for me and more than offset the few dolts who happend by. He'll join us trackside one day I'm sure. We seem to focus on the negative in life ( like the media) but I think its all overstated.


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 Post subject: Re: "Great Quotes"--So What Have We Learned?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 11:14 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 1:25 pm
Posts: 4996
O-6-O wrote:
ADM's listing above as he indicates are some of the hundreds of ignorant and stupid questions asked out of how many thousands posed? Most people who are ignorant on a subject remain silent as opposed to asking a question they feel is stupid. I'm proactive when acting in a docent capacity to help people relax and get their questions out. Yes,for sure you have to deal with the know it alls but I don't find their numbers all that great in my experiences. They do provide a source of entertainment occasionally. Being cheerful and upbeat is really important. At a Thomas the Tank event in Utica a few years back,while giving "tours" of the 6721, I had a 9 year old boy ask me the most amazing questions about superheaters and the function of the blower. Clearly he was past Thomas and Edward in his knowledge and I was afraid he was going to ask me for the precise chemical composition of coal. He made the whole day for me and more than offset the few dolts who happend by. He'll join us trackside one day I'm sure. We seem to focus on the negative in life ( like the media) but I think its all overstated.


0-6-0:

Yes, I have gotten those type questions on occasion too. It really makes your day. But of the folks who ask me questions, I try to give them the correct answer to the best of my ability. IF I don't know it, I try to direct them to someone who does know. I agree that there is no dumb question. I am just happy that the folks came by and had an interest.

Les


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 Post subject: Mostly Unflattering Things about Us
PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2008 11:57 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:54 pm
Posts: 1735
As this thread developed it did have a few "lighthearted" posts, but it soon took an ugly turn where some posters just oozed derision and contempt. The Marquis de Queensbury became Marquis de Sade.

Like the energizer bunny, it kept going and going. And like a a black hole it just sucked everybody in..Now its time to put a stake through its heart.

Look, if you want to read "ignorant and stupid" things, go back a few years when posters here actually made statements alluding that a non-profit couldn't have net income. An even better one was a post where somebody asserted that the board should be composed mostly of rubber-stamping well-connected lackeys who allowed the executive director to operate without oversight.

Look, there's 300 million people in this country most born after steam died- and 1400 steam locomotives, of which a small fraction operate. Of course they are going to ask "where's the key". Your job is to smile sweetly and explain patiently or you'll be (not) selling your locomotive on any of the internet brokerages or EBAY.

But here's the real thing: If they don't pay, you don't play. I really hope nobody looking to take sally and johnny on a real train googled up this site and found those endless comments. And if you think you can conceal contempt, ask a woman you now about buying a car. They can smell the dismissive salesman a mile away and you aren't as slick as a car saleman.

As for the idea that its the watercooler-no sir. Thats a private conversation and impermanent. Here we had people airing their dirty laundry. The old saw about a bad bird poopin' in its own nest applies well here.

Meanwhile, at an art museum somewhere, they are ordering catering and coffee mugs for the "friends and contributors" luncheon.

Here's a suggestion for a topic as requested by Mr. Wrinn.

Effective Industry Image Campaigns:
Knowing When to Bottle The (Hot) Air.


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 Post subject: Re: Mostly Unflattering Things about Us
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2008 3:14 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 8:44 am
Posts: 627
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Some good points have been made about the impact of our attitudes toward children or young people when they ask sometimes-annoying questions. One of my other hobbies is collecting vintage stereo equipment. I became interested in Hi-Fi over 25 years ago, when I was 13 or 14, and had no money to speak of. One day I walked into one of the more prominent "audiophile" shops in town, and was brusquely rebuffed by the owner of the shop when I asked for a few equipment brochures. I've never forgotten that day, and though the shop is still there, I've never gone back, and never spent a dime there. Kids have looong memories, and the decisions they make as adults as to where to spend their money and/or time often relate to those childhood experiences, be they pleasant or otherwise.


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 Post subject: Re: Mostly Unflattering Things about Us
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2008 11:07 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 3:01 pm
Posts: 1438
Location: SouthEast Pennsylvania
davew833 wrote:
Kids have looong memories, and the decisions they make as adults as to where to spend their money and/or time often relate to those childhood experiences, be they pleasant or otherwise.
This applies to adults, also. The decisions you make about how you treat the public will have life-long consequences. Most of my time, labor, and money go to one particular museum, not shared with any of 4 or 5 others that I belonged to or encountered years ago. Of course, back then, I was much younger and didn't have as much money and ability as now.


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 Post subject: Re: Mostly Unflattering Things about Us
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2008 12:27 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5254
Location: southeastern USA
There are businesses I will drive past in order to pay more to their more distant, costly and inconvenient competitors based on how I was treated as a customer. I sense a trend towards a minimal standard of customer service in an effort to cut costs by many retailers of products and services. It makes me ashamed to be an American consumer since we still, as a whole, refuse to stand up for a higher standard of service for a savings of a few pennies. I'd be embarrassed to ask my customers to accept the treatmnent I am given by such entities as AT&T, Home Depot, etc.

Since many of us don't need to include cost of labor in more than a marginal way, there's no reason why we can't make sure our visitors go away happy with how they were cared for at our places of business.

dave

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"Techies never minded eating bits and jots of their work. They were grit and grease inside and out and could turn a pile of junk into a magical kingdom."

Andrea Hairston


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 Post subject: Re: Mostly Unflattering Things about Us
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2008 1:10 pm 

Joined: Mon Apr 03, 2006 3:28 pm
Posts: 72
Location: Port Orchard, Wa.
Out here in the sand & gravel business we have more competition than a railroad museum/tourist line, and we know that if we don't service the customer,no matter who it is, we will most likely lose their buisness forever. Being available and providing top flight service the first time will almost guarantee a return customer.

I know it seems like a silly comparison,and I'm sure I'm being stubborn,but if I have a choice between Brand X tourist railroad and say, Mt. Rainier Scenic, even though it's twice the distance I'm going there to spend $ on a ticket and maybe donate $ to a specific project.

Just as a sidenote, I don't name the specific operation where I had the bad experience here, or talk smack about them in public, but the majority of people will...ever read the "comment" section on websites for hotels and resturaunts?

Well that's enough out of me about this.....

Cheers, Dave


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 Post subject: Re: Mostly Unflattering Things about Us
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2008 2:06 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2004 4:02 pm
Posts: 974
Location: Back in NE Ohio
davew833 wrote:
I became interested in Hi-Fi over 25 years ago, when I was 13 or 14, and had no money to speak of. One day I walked into one of the more prominent "audiophile" shops in town, and was brusquely rebuffed by the owner of the shop when I asked for a few equipment brochures. I've never forgotten that day, and though the shop is still there, I've never gone back, and never spent a dime there.


There was a hobby shop in my hometown (Akron, OH) that was owned by a very crusty old-timer, a former sailor who still talked like one. You really hadn't lived in the hobby until he threw you out of his shop. Basically, he stayed in business because his prices were low and he was the only authorized Lionel repair facility around. There was a story that one guy who was walking into the store narrowly missed getting clocked by a locomotive flying across the room in one of the owner's frequent temper tantrums. He certainly didn't do anything to encourage my interest in model railroading, which to this day I really don't have much of an interest in.


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 Post subject: Re: Mostly Unflattering Things about Us
PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2008 9:54 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 19, 2005 1:52 pm
Posts: 53
Location: Newton, NJ
A few years ago I swung by a museum that was preparing a well-known large steam locomotive for a well-publicized move across the country. It was the museum's off-season, but nonetheless a steady stream of people stopped by to see what was happening at the open shop/museum door. This would have been a great opportunity for the museum to do some p.r. work -- even a "Sorry, folks, we're closed, but we'd love to have you back this summer" would have been nice, but instead no one at the museum bothered to say anything to the curious crowd, and about the only thing they did was very dramatically put up a barrier across the door in front of the onlookers (without a word spoken) to signify that they really wanted nothing to do with us. (Attempts were made at small talk by some onlookers, but silence was all that was returned).

Anyhow, that left me with such a bad taste in my mouth that I will probably never visit that museum again (as I said, a simple "hello" would have gone a long way), and if someone should ever submit an article about that museum to R&R, I believe I would return the article without reading it. If you don't have time for the people who read our magazine, then I don't have time for you.

Every person that comes to your museum is there by choice. That means they have some interest in your museum. And if they ask a question, that means they're even more interested. The folks who ask about superheaters and staybolts are probably already enthusiasts to some degree. But the ones who ask "where's the key?" are the ones you need to answer cheerfully, because the more you teach them and the more questions they ask, the better the chances that we can add one more railroad enthusiast to our ranks.

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Steve Barry
Editor
Railfan & Railroad
Swedesboro, NJ


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