Looking Out for Ed


With the 33rd National Arts and Crafts Conference now just a week away, I have been making regular trips up Sunset Mountain to the iconic 1913 Grove Park Inn. Sometimes I’m checking the measurements of a ceiling, looking to see what furniture will need to be moved in the Great Hall, or trying to find some unused space where we could hold another daily Small Group Discussion.

But even more important, I’m always stopping by the various departments to say hello to the people who make a huge difference to our conference.

When I was a high school English teacher fresh out of college, I received a valuable piece of advice from a veteran teacher. “Don’t worry about the principal,” he said, “but make sure Ed likes you.”

Who was Ed?



The janitor.

The person who came into your classroom after all your students had left to push the chairs back where they belonged, to sweep the floors, empty the wastebaskets, and do whatever it took to prepare your classroom for your first class the next morning.

And if Ed didn’t like you, your room showed it.

What I soon learned was all it took was showing Ed the respect he deserved for doing a good job. Whenever he came in and started moving chairs, I set aside the essays I was reading and helped him. If a student had spilled something on the floor earlier in the day, rather than call Ed, I handed the student a roll of paper towels. And each time I saw him, I thanked Ed for making my job as a teacher a lot easier each morning.



I try to do the same with each trip I make up to the Grove Park Inn. I rarely knock on the door to the hotel manager, but I walk up and down all of the service hallways. That’s where I know I’m going to find the men and women who take my floor plans and diagrams and lists and turn them all into rooms with the right number of chairs, tables, easels, lights, and signs that you will need for your Small Group Discussions, workshops, demonstrations, seminars, book clubs, and more than 100 exhibitor booths.

It takes a lot of people just like Ed.

It takes Clayton, Kevin, Kelly, Joseph, Jose, Fernando, Michelle, Earl, and scores more, nearly all of whom you never see during the conference, because they were working the days before we arrived, and each night while we are enjoying the view from the Sunset Terrace, sitting in the seminars, or watching the new Gustav Stickley documentary.



I’m sure, too, that there are several people like Ed in your life. People who probably make a great deal of difference to how easy – or hard – your day will be. Take a tip from a former teacher:  call them by name, put aside your work and ask about their kids, find out what they do on their days off, where they go on vacation, where they like to eat, and whatever else you have in common.

Show them the respect they deserve, for the easier you make their job, the easier they will make yours.

And along the way, you’re going to make a new friend.


Until next week,


            “There are two things people want more than sex and money:  recognition and praise.” – Mary Kay Ash, Founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics