LESSONS FROM A BOTCHED DOOR LATCH: Why You Really Need to Pass On Your Skills

This improperly installed hotel room door latch is a technical mistake, but why do I see more and more of this kind of thing in the world?

Back in 2018, I checked into a nearly-new big city hotel for a few days, and I was reminded of the kind of creeping incompetence I seemed to be seeing more and more often. As I closed the bathroom door, I noticed that it didn’t stay latched. Was this the typical issue of the latch not lining up with the strike plate? I pushed the door harder. It didn’t help. It wasn’t until I looked closely that I noticed the cause. It was a shocking example of something that makes me worried.

It’s not every day that you see a door latch installed backwards, but that’s what I was looking at.  Yes, it was installed in the wrong direction relative to the swing of the door. Think about the series of incompetencies that must have led to this reality. Some so-called “tradesperson”, at some time, walked into that almost-finished hotel room to install a door. Somewhere along the line this person’s “training” failed to enlighten them to the fact that the angled side of any door latch needs to face inwards, towards the direction of the closing swing. Fail #1.

Presumably, hotel rooms are inspected after completion before the owner signs off on construction. Either the inspection didn’t happen or the inspector missed something obvious. Fail #2.

Every day that the room is occupied, someone from housekeeping enters the bathroom. They probably operate the bathroom door at least once in a while, yet they were oblivious to the fact that the door doesn’t close all the way nor stay closed. Fail #3.

While we’re on the topic of incompetence, the latch plate wasn’t chiseled into the edge of the door either, as you can see in the photo. The screws holding the handle mechanism were loose, too. Sloppy workmanship is one thing and it’s happening more and more often as far as I can see. But failure to understand the theory behind a door latch on a multi-million dollar commercial project, isn’t this one step worse?

Quality never happens by accident, and mistakes are always waiting around every corner. Every conscientious person has learned this lesson over time, but care and pride of craftsmanship seems to be on a steep decline. Is it just my imagination, or are we getting less competent as a society?

Why am I telling you all this? As a practical person, you can make a difference in the quality of things in your immediate sphere of influence. The skills and practical success of our world is nothing more than the skills and practical success of the people making up the society. One important thing to remember is the responsibility you have to pass on the skills and practical ways of thinking you’ve accumulated over a lifetime of hands-on work.  Government, schools and business simply cannot pass on the kind of widespread, hands-on skills your kids and grandkids should have. This is our responsibility as individual leaders of our families.

Quality, effort, skills and diligence used to be more common in our world than they are today. And isn’t it true that one measure of the success of any society is how well it deals with the practical matters of life . . .  including the installation of door latches?

Maybe I’m just getting old, but it seems like the world doesn’t work as well as it used to. People seem less competent, less careful and more interested in entertainment than accomplishment than when I was growing up. Are you noticing anything like this? What are your thoughts? Let me know.

Posted on November 22nd, 2019

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