Home Building Timeline Grid O-3 – Mind & Body (gold star)
NOT a warning, NOT a judgmental rant, NOT a point-the-finger-and-condemn to hell sermon – this is simply an observation. This is about drugs and alcohol and how they affect the decision-making ability of users who try to plan and/or build a home, new or remodeled.
…I began my career as a home designer in 1975. It wasn’t long before my first drunk-client meeting occurred. I noticed his speech: slightly slurred, physical demeanor: a little bit of a lean, and expression: lips pressed together in a thin horizontal line that somehow mimicked a smile saying, “I’m feelin’ pretty good right now.” He was a happy drunk. Nothing was wrong in the meeting, at all. I posed questions and suggestions. He responded. I made sketches on paper. He made counter sketches and a few notes. It was a week later, when I showed him the new drawings which included all the topics from the previous meeting that ‘drunk’ became significant.
…While he remembered ‘a meeting,’ not one topic was familiar to him. He even denied authorizing the particular aspects of that particular version of the house plan I’d drawn for him. If not for sketches and notes in his handwriting on the earlier drawings the project would’ve died on the vine. He never showed up intoxicated, again. Together we created a beautiful home in which he lived for many years.
…Over the majority of the next three decades, up until 1999, about five hundred clients came to meetings in some state of intoxication, whether drunk, high, stoned, or buzzed. Sometimes it was a simple case of a physiological response to prescribed medication. Sometimes it was to soothe a nervous mind fearful of making bad decisions. Sometimes it was just ‘stoned’ for fun. Then as now, choosing how clients live their personal lives is their business. Responding to the way their choice or medical condition affects how I conduct my business is my personal task.
…Whenever I see the signs in a client, pupils too small, pupils too large, slurred words, physical discombobulation, or that telling, thin-lined, I’m-feeling-pretty-good smile, I know I have to pay extra attention to the process of documentation. As I make notes on paper, they’re required to initial each one. Between-meeting emails from me to the discombobu-clinetelle (yes, it’s a word now) deliver an itemized list of the changes and additions to the plans in the previous meeting. It’s a little extra work but has never been an overwhelming chore. Until now.
…As the nationwide legalization of recreational drugs gains momentum, and personal attitudes about drugs and alcohol relax, more and more people are evermore open and casual as to when and where they partake of recreational, mind-chillin’ inducements. Studies by the Highway Safety Administration and Department of Labor show that, on the road and at work, the percentage of people who are either drunk or drugged has climbed significantly from 12% in 1999 to 38% in 2010 to 58% in 2015. In design meetings at my conference table, I’ve seen the same increases.
Why would I pay attention to something like this?
Because it affects my income, and because I knew I was going to write about it,
which I’m doing right now.
…Since 1999, my client base has up-shifted to a fifty-eight percent probability of meeting with me in a state of overly-chill-mindedness in which, though decision-making remains unaffected, decision memory is all but eliminated. This means that two out of three projects require extensive documentation just to help those clients remember what they said about their house plan in a meeting a few days before. It’s now necessary to spend lots of extra time to keep formal records to prompt a client’s memory, and be able to prove that features and changes were specified by the client. Profit is affected. Speed of production is slowed.
…One specific point to be made here is that I have NOT seen the same percentage of intemperance among the dwelling industry professionals with whom I associate. Professional Pride in ability, performance, and quality are traits held to be almost sacred by virtually every homebuilder, designer, subcontractor, and dwelling industry practitioner I know; and I know tens of thousands worldwide. The thing is, ALL of us are dealing with the same increase of decreased attention-spans for whatever reason; and ALL of us have to look at how this affects the bottom line – profit. Sometimes it means a few dollars lost. Other times it means a few dollars added to counter a loss. Every time it’s a response to a cultural shift that inadvertently puts personal pleasure ahead of homebuilding precision and perfection.
…I’m not complainin’. I’m just sayin’ : Whether recreational or medicinal drug use is considered to be victimless or not, it’s still a problem. It’s a bigger problem for those who imbibe at critical times, when judgement is most needed to be concise, but isn’t; when follow-through is in highest demand, but absent; when clear control of desire vs. spending becomes wayward, resulting in increased costs, and loss of quality due to drug-hindered decisions, which are bad. Losses could be very great. Financial hell just might be hiding in that homebuilding haze.