One day versus everyday

Jan. 1, 2009
One summer, I worked as an attendant at a convenience-store/gas-station chain.

One summer, I worked as an attendant at a convenience-store/gas-station chain. My duties were pumping gas and ensuring some parts of the convenience store remained stocked. As a low-level employee, I had a seemingly endless list of superiors. I had a supervisor who was the head gas-pumper/shelf-stocker. He answered to the store manager. The store manager answered to a regional manager who answered to a district manager. Or maybe the district manager answered to theregional manager. I can't remember.

Anyway, one day the regional manager (or maybe it was the district manager) was supposed to pay a visit to the store. You should have seen how the place operated that day; we went through more Windex and Spic'n'Span in one shift than we did the rest of the summer. Everything had to be in the best possible shape because apparently the store was going to receive a grade from the regional/district manager.

Unfortunately, I can't tell you the rest of the story because I wasn't there when the person handing out the grades showed up. All I can say is that the store's staff remained intact throughout the summer, so we must have done OK.

What became evident even to a naïve kid like me was the grade we got that day did not represent everyday reality. It represented our absolute best effort for a very short period of time. Unfortunately, that's exactly the phenomenon some of you might be experiencing as users of structured cabling systems.

A recent report from the Communications Cable and Connectivity Association said that cables purchased off distributor shelves failed to meet the electrical- and flame-resistance performance they claimed on theirouter jackets. The CCCA has been quick to point out the brands are not prominent in North America, and each of the cables was made by an offshore manufacturer.

But the deeper question is: Did these cables ever really pass CMP/CMR and electrical-performance tests, and receive third-party lab recognition of that performance? If so, then on the day these manufacturers produced the cable to be tested, they acted as if the district manager was paying a visit. Everything from materials to processes was buttoned up tightly for one day. Then they went back to their normal routine of far-less-strict practices. On the otherhand, if they never went through such testing, then these manufacturers are fraudulently portraying that they did.

We're tracking this story now and will have more details next month, as well as on www.cablinginstall.com.

PATRICK McLAUGHLIN
Chief Editor
[email protected]

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