Inspect What You Expect, a Father’s Day Story

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My late father, Tony Nolan Adrignola, used to tell some pretty good stories. There could have been some embellishment involved. What follow is likely at least partially true.

In the early 1990’s, Dad was storming around the office. He came to me and said, “Are those sales reports done yet?”

I replied, “They are in progress, and like every Friday for the last 17 years, they will be on your desk.”

Of course, I was a bit miffed. I never missed a deadline and you would think he would have more confidence. So, I asked, “Dad, why do you check on this even though they always get turned in on time?”

To which he replied, “Inspect what you expect!” and proceeded to tell the story of how he learned this hard lesson.

Dad recanted “It was just after the end of WWII in Europe and I was a Private in the Army Air Corps. My job as an air traffic controller was important work, especially at that air field. You see, some air fields have a clock wise landing pattern, and some have a counter clock wise pattern. The airport where I was working had a counter clock wise pattern due to a mountain near the field.”

“It was near the end of my shift when over the radio I heard ‘Air traffic control, this is Air Corp transport C9335, requesting to enter your airspace and land in a clock wise pattern'”

Dad said this worried him, both because that transport likely had an important person aboard and they requested the wrong pattern which he could not allow.

So, dad responded, “Transport C9335, your request is denied, Enter the pattern counter clock wise and land.”

The radio crackled again. ‘Private, this is Colonel Jones and my passenger wants to see the view as we enter via a clock wise pattern. Give us permission to do so”‘

Dad said he was nervous by then but replied, “I’m sorry Colonel. We have standing orders. Enter the pattern counter clock wise and land.”

The radio static now snapped like a whip and a new voice burst forth. “Private, this is Major General Curtis LeMay and I am ordering you to give my flight a clockwise pattern.”

Dad said at this point he was nervous, loosened his tie and replied, I’m sorry General LeMay, but I have a standing order and don’t have the authority to let you land in that pattern. Please use a counter clock wise entry and land.”

The radio went silent and the transport entered the proper pattern, landed, then taxied directly to the control tower.

Dad could see two men in uniforms get out of the air craft. They came to the stairs, flew open the entry trap door and  several minutes went by while puffs of cigar smoke were blown through the entrance, Dad said it seemed like a dragon was about to enter.

The General walked right over to Dad, and with his face and cigar smoke about six inches from Dad’s face, the general ranted, “Private, I’m a Major General and you are a Private, why didn’t you give me the permission as ordered?”

Dad replied, “I’m sorry General, but I had to stick with my standing orders.”

The general moved forward again, and nose to nose with Dad, he bellowed, “Private, it is a good god damn thing you did!”

With that the General left the tower. Dad got a day’s hard labor for having his tie loosened.

“You see,” Dad said, “that was the general’s way of inspecting what he expected.”

A few months later Dad heard from General LeMay indirectly. Dad got transferred to Berlin to control traffic during the Berlin airlift. One mistake there and it could have been World War three.

General LeMay wanted men he knew he could count on. And he knew because he inspected what he expected.

And that’s why at Record Printing we “inspect what you expect.” Each job has hundreds of inspection points which get checked by several folks in a redundant process.

Come over for a visit, we’d love to show you how it works.

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