Everyone Sees the Wine but Few See the Crushing of the Grapes

Behind the Scenes

Perhaps I am showing my age but as a child, and to this day, I Love Lucy remains a favorite sitcom that I will never tire of. One of my favorite episodes is when Lucy, while traveling through Italy, decides to soak up some local culture in order to be cast in a small part of a movie to be called Bitter Grapes. In this epic episode Lucy joins a group of women who stomp grapes in a huge wine vat. All the women speak Italian except Lucy. Calamity ensues when she fails to comprehend the orders of the lead grape stomper. Lucy has no idea the grueling exercise involved in grape stomping and soon poops out and needs to rest after a short period of stomping the grapes. The classic fight between Lucy and the Italian boss is made more memorable because the actress playing the role of the Italian boss did not speak English and misunderstood her directions. Lucille Ball nearly drowned in the vat of grapes during the filming of that scene!

Although I have never attended a taping of a television show, I am quite aware of the many things that must occur off-screen. The behind the scenes actions are never seen by the audience but without the people who complete those tasks there would be no show to air. Such is the case in businesses. Take the janitorial business for example. There are producers, directors, actors, best boys and clappers but they go by different titles:

  • Producer- that would be the owner of the company
  • Director- that’s the manager (s)
  • Actors- the most valuable of all are the professionals that clean the facilities
  • Best Boys- the office staff that answer the phones and handle paperwork
  • Clappers- in television and cinema a clapper produces sound effects so in business they could be likened to sales or marketing agents- they make noise!

Hollywood Magic

It is the expectation that the actors perform well in one take. When the office cleaning crew arrives to perform their duties they must perform on cue and in one take because it’s show time. There is no time or excuse for second takes. The client might be forgiving once or twice but they have their limits. When a client places his or her trust in a janitorial company they are doing more than issuing keys, pass codes and access cards- they are expecting a grand performance each and every time. The client has a reputation and image to maintain. They expect, and rightly so, Hollywood magic!

Dress Rehearsal

Just as in theatre, television or cinema the entire cast must be thoroughly prepared. Every night is opening night, debut or premiere. It’s a live performance! Everybody must know their role and that requires a lot of training. When a teacher calls in sick a substitute is called. If an actor can’t perform an understudy is sent in. Many businesses rely on temp agencies to send in people to staff offices and factories. Although careful screening is often conducted, sometimes an epic fail occurs. Such chances cannot take place in the janitorial world. While most anyone has the ability to clean it doesn’t necessarily mean they are professional cleaners. Before a professional cleaner is sent to a site some formalities should take place:

  • Annual Training and Certification in areas they will perform
  • Communication skills
  • Drug testing – frequent and randomly
  • Background checks

These are the responsibility of the employer and records and certificates should be kept on file. It would be real easy to drown in that vat of grapes if everyone did not know his individual role or failed to communicate effectively. It’s time to break a leg!

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