Thursday, November 13, 2008

Because I Said So

There was a time when the phrase "Jump" was answered with an immediate "How high?" Of course, any officer worth her salt never ordered for the sake of ordering. But the days of telling someone to do something without a question in response are LONG gone.

It started when I got married. Continued through small children, who grew into teens, a job with harried truck driver, some of whom didn't understand the words "customer" and "service" go hand in hand, and has trickled down to a 3- and 5-year-old who think they rule the world. No longer do I issue non-judicial punishments or office hours. Instead it's time in the corner, a lack of TV or computer games, or the requisite spanking. And yes, I am all for hands-on discipline.

The military makes thing simple. In a five paragraph order, the mission statement tells the 5 w's: when, who, what, where and why. It's spelled out in black and white, in traditions carried out with pride. When a superior wants answers, you give them. When a subordinate is tasked with an agenda, that subordinate gets back to you or suffers the consequences. Questions don't go unanswered, phone calls are returned and plans stick to specified timetables.

Unlike the real world, and specifically unlike the world of publishing.

Agents and editors "lose" manuscripts, authors don't read submission guidelines and waste everybody's time. People miss deadlines and readers are at times stuck with badly edited, and worse, badly written books they shelled out good money for.

My answer? Throw in a couple of "Yes Sirs" and "Yes Ma'ams," institute a policy of mandatory good customer service, and punish offenders by throwing them in the brig. A fantasy land? Sure, but one can always hope. Sometimes I really miss the Marine Corps...

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