A Day Late and a Dollar Short

I have to admit that I like watching “reality programming” on Discovery Channel.  I love shows like Deadliest Catch, Dirty Jobs, and Fast N’ Loud.  Although there is certainly a lot of “Hollywooding-it-up” for television, I think that at the core, these are shows about people working and what that has a tendency to look like.

As a result of my love for Fast N’ Loud, I ended up watching this year’s bike build-off and last hoorah for American Chopper.  It was a four-way competition between the Teutels, Jesse James, and the guys from Fast N’ Loud (Aaron Kaufman and Richard Rawlings).  The rules were simple:

  1. Build whatever you like.
  2. You have 6 weeks to complete the bike.
  3. The bike must be able to pull itself up a 40 foot ramp.

Personally, I would consider these rules to be these easiest set of parameters for a motorcycle build-off in human history.  For men who are in the business of building custom motorcycles, these should have been a slam dunk.  Well…apparently not…at least not for Jesse James.

Jesse spent the weeks leading up to the build-off trashing his opponent’s bike building ability while lauding his own stellar skills.  Then, when 6 weeks was up, he asked for another 2 weeks.  When that 2 weeks was up, he then stated that he was not constrained by some “bullsh**, made-up television deadline” and that he would have the bike ready in time for the live show, thus giving himself over 10 weeks when everyone else had agreed on almost half of that.

How did this work out for the competition?  Well, Paul Sr. from Orange County Choppers used the extra 2 weeks to do some more finish work, so he benefited from the extension.  Paul Junior’s bike was done, so he just waited for the event.  The guys from Fast N’ Loud?  Well, I guess they worked on other projects, drank a few beers and took it easy.  Their bike had been completed in 4 1/2 weeks…well before the deadline.  In fact, Aaron Kaufman was so confident in his work that he hopped on the bike and drove it over 1,300 miles to Vegas, for the main event.

So, how did the voting go?  How did the build-off end?  I’m sure that for many of you it will be no surprise that Paul Jr. Designs won the event, with the bike from Fast N’ Loud coming in second.  Jesse James’ masterful design?  It didn’t even place.

I say all of that in order to say this:  My dad spent an immense amount of time during my childhood teaching me that it is unacceptable to be “a day late and a dollar short.”  As a kid, I thought that he was being too hard…as an adult, I couldn’t agree more.  Dr. Tom Jones, one of my college professors, used to close and lock the classroom door at 1 minute past the class starting time.  Other professors at my university would take 1 letter grade off of a paper for every day it was late.  Why all of this pressure  to be on time?  Because being late means that you’re unreliable, disrespectful of others, and quite often, just plain lazy.

I know that there are people out there that have no concept of time because I am one of them.  Still, we all develop ways of being on time unless we just don’t care.  All of us will occasionally be late because of circumstances beyond our control, but if we respect people, we will respect their time.

Last night, Jesse James did me a favor.  He reminded me that it doesn’t matter how much skill and talent that someone has unless they can meet a deadline.  He reminded me that we all need to play by the same rules.  Most importantly, he reminded me that people with his attitude are people that I would do well to avoid.


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