March 13, 2011

...don't know jack


the main entry door to the shop i work in has been broken since we opened a year ago.  i finally received the go-ahead to purchase a new lock mechanism and swap out the old one.  this past friday, while sitting on a five gallon bucket of motor oil, i repaired the lockset.  while doing so a truck driver walked by and said, "so you're a maintenance man too, eh?"  "nope." i replied.  "i am the shop supervisor.  this just really needs to be done right now."  and he returned with, "so you're a jack of all trades and a master of none." and continued into the shop.

i've heard this a handful of times in my life and im not sure how to take it exactly.

yes it means that jack is skilled in many different areas of in everyday life.  on the other hand it also means that he hasn't mastered any of those areas.  inadequately educated in all of the areas he holds to be important in his life.  would you say a doctor is a jack of all trades or a master in his professional field?  who cares if said doctor can't change a lockset on an industrial door.  he can diagnose abnormalities in the human body.

don't get me wrong, if we didn't have locksmiths we would all have broken doors.  but isn't that locksmith the master of his field just as the doctor is a master of the medical?  not some jack who simply learned how to do it because it needed to be done.  no.  he is the master schlage, the king of the kwikset.

picture this.  you book a trip to europe and board the 747.  as your plane is being taxied to the runway a voice is heard over the intercom. "ladies and gentlemen we want to thank you for choosing to fly with us today.  our regular pilot couldn't make the trip with us but don't worry, we found someone who has done it a few times and can probably get us their safely.  please sit back and enjoy the flight."


you would be running for the emergency exits located at the front, middle and rear of the cabin.

i guess my frustration isn't in what the phrase is saying as much as it is in what the phrase ISN'T saying.  now i know that i would be hearing what i want when i start to think along those lines.  but isn't that the way it usually goes?  i think most of the time more is said by what we don't say than what we do.

when i hear someone call me a jack of all trades, master of none i feel like they are saying...

"congratulations.  you have managed to get by without really applying yourself in any one area."


maybe im being too hard on myself.  but if i weren't, who would be?  many times it is said that an artist is his own worst critic.  for me i feel that it forces me to be 100% satisfied with what i create.  but it is not always so.  i am not always satisfied with my performance and get frustrated.  being a selective perfectionist is hell

please keep your back handed compliments to yourself.

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