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  • Writer's pictureCourt Newkirk

The Weeds In The Sidewalk ~ or~ Why We Can’t Have Nice Things in Okmulgee

Famous Football Coach Vince Lombardi once said: "Winning is not a sometime thing; it's an all the time thing. You don't win once in a while; you don't do things right once in a while; you do them right all of the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.”

I’d like to add another sentence to Lombardi’s famous speech: “Living a quality lifestyle is not a once in a while thing, a ‘Quality LifeStyle’ is an everyday, everything, every job attitude thing.”

Example: here is a picture of a curb where the owner wanted a metal pole taken out. The worker cut the steel pipe with a torch and then broke off the concrete inside the pipe where it was cut off. There’s a couple of things wrong here. The steel pipe that’s been cut is jagged, and rough. The concrete is jagged and rough. In short, not only does it look like a half-hearted job, it’s a trip hazard. It only would have taken about fifteen more minutes with an angle grinder and a metal blade to cut the pipe off at the base and then change to a concrete blade and smooth out the concrete. So what happened?

A lack of a quality attitude towards the project. Maybe the owner just told the worker, just cut it off the quickest way possible and haul it off. Or maybe the worker thought, this looks OK to me and if someone trips over the stub, they should watch where they’re walking. I’m almost at the point where I think the worker had never been properly trained on the use of an angle grinder. Either way, it was the quickest cheapest way out of the job.

Walk around Okmulgee in almost any neighborhood. Weeds in the sidewalks, trash between buildings, half-finished jobs, buildings that simply need a new coat of paint.

Remember the saying, “you get what you celebrate?” I’m beginning to think we celebrate half done jobs, trash and filth. There are several food establishments who have exhaust vents that drip cooking oil on our sidewalks and alleys.

Why can’t we have nice things in Okmulgee? Because we won’t put out even the most moderate effort of quality workmanship, quality cleanliness, quality in every job, project or effort we put out.

The next time you go to Chicago, go for a walk on Michigan Ave between 5:30 and 6:30 AM. Those big fancy department stores and office buildings have an employee out on the sidewalk washing the sidewalk with a power-sprayer and soap. That’s a quality attitude and effort.

Yes, not everyone can afford a power washer, but a hose, broom, and elbow grease work pretty well too. I’ve actually seen shop owners in Okmulgee wash the sidewalk in front of their store. It’s few and far between.

If I see another wadded up dirty diaper dropped out of a car window on our streets I might just scream. Or another car pulling up to a stop light/stop sign, open up their car door and dump out their ashtray.

You might just come to the conclusion, we can’t have nice things in Okmulgee because we don’t deserve nice things. Maybe we really just don’t care.

I’ve mentioned before a site visit in 2020 when the site selection consultant for a national retailer said to me after 20 minutes in the car, “take me back to the airport, your city looks like ^&%$?”

The entire State of Oklahoma became famous back in the mid-1990s for something called “The Oklahoma Standard.” For those who are not old enough to remember the circumstances, we got that title because of the world class quality of our care for the firemen and rescue workers received during the Oklahoma City bombing search and rescue. It became known as: The Oklahoma Standard.

The “Okmulgee Standard” is not one to publicize. Our standard is a cut off pipe sticking out of a curb. Watch where you walk because the Okmulgee Standard may cut your foot.

Now it’s not fair to point out a bunch of problems without offering a solution. Fair enough. When hiring a worker, or doing the work yourself, demand quality. Demand of yourself to present your business, your home, your organization at the highest level you can afford. A city with citizens who will accept half-baked work will attract half-baked developments, repairs and efforts at every level. Strive for excellence in everything we do. Let’s rewrite the Okmulgee Standard.

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