4 PM on a Friday

I come from the automotive world. People who don’t understand the automotive industry can’t fathom how completely different it is from every other industry out there.

The worst hour of the week in the automotive industry is 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM on a Friday. It is that nightmarish 60 minutes when Murphy’s Law takes shape and capers about like a mad, evil leprechaun bent on wrecking your weekend.

Why you ask, did I dread this hour? Why dread an hour that for every other person in every other industry is a clock watching semi-holiday where little to nothing gets done?

Because if something catastrophic is going to happen, it will happen at 4:00 PM on a Friday, never 8:00 AM on a Tuesday. The crisis always starts when there is no time to react, no time to rationally analyze the situation, no time to do anything but panic.

More times than I can count, the call would come in that there was a problem at one of our customers’ plants, and if we didn’t get parts to the line by 8:00 AM Saturday, they would go “line-down”, meaning the end of the world. The assembly line is shut down and the charge backs start at $100,000 per hour.

And when I got there, it was rarely our fault. Sometimes it wasn’t even our part that was to blame. I can remember one such trip to an assembly plant where we discovered that the problem had to do with a mating wire harness supplied by someone else. Our part functioned perfectly, but it was my wife and kids who got the short end of the deal when Daddy had to drop everything to drive several hours to work with the night shift QC tech to fix the (non-existent) problem.

I thought of this 4:00 PM phenomenon today, but in a good way. The last few weeks have been crammed with new clients contacting PassageMaker wanting to launch new projects, some of which have been on hold for a year or more. All want to get things going before the end of the year, as though the difference between now and January is critical.

Hopefully this is a sign of the recovery to come.

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