CHAPTER 4

The Wilsons Tackle Trust & Respect

   

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When Jen returned from the bathroom, Matt again had his head buried in the F-MOS report. But this time he didn’t seem puzzled. He seemed upset.

        “Matty,” she began soothingly. “What’s the matter?”

        “I’ll tell you what’s the matter,” Matt replied. “Trust & Respect is the matter.”

        Jen’s eyes asked him to continue.

        Matt was struggling. Despite his best efforts to keep his reply slow and measured, his emotions got the best of him. In fact, his eyes had teared up, so it was now his turn to reach for a napkin.

        “I can accept the F-MOS scores being low when it comes to things like Engagement and Empowerment.” He dabbed at his eyes. “But Trust & Respect? Trust & Respect?!” Another dab. “This cuts to the quick.”

        Matt reached for his wallet. He fumbled as he tried to pull out a stack of cards from the slot behind his driver’s license. They were jammed in there pretty tightly, so he began to tug until the cards broke free and scattered across the kitchen table.

        Sam’s Club. Best Buy. A The 10th One’s Free(ze) card from The Eyes Creamery. And the card he was looking for laminated, with a little notch at the top, and a headline, in gold type, reading: Wilson Family Values. Matt picked it up and held it up for Jen to see.

        “They’re right here on the WFV!” he said.

        Jen nodded.

        “Read them out loud,” Matt instructed. “I want to make sure I’m not imagining things.”

        Jen held her hands out in front of her over the table, palms down, like a tennis line judge calling a ball in.

        “Honey,” she soothed, “I know you’re upset, but…”

        “Read ’em!” This time it was more a command than an instruction.

        “Okay,” Jen said, even more soothingly. She took the WFV card from Matt. “Where do you want me to start?”

        “I want you to start with Trust and end with Respect,” Matt said impatiently. He pointed to the card and added, “Right there. Right after ‘Squeezing the toothpaste tube from the bottom’ and right before ‘No eye-rolling when Grampy Wilson comes to visit and insists on watching Matlock.’”

        Jen nodded and read out loud: “Trust: Wilsons trust each other implicitly (except when age inappropriate outfits are involved).” She looked up at Matt and smiled. “Thanks for adding that.”

        “You’re welcome,” he replied. “I did take the liberty of doing some editing on your draft.”

        “And you were right to do so,” said Jen. “Slutty would have been WFV-inappropriate.”

        Matt couldn’t help but smile at this, so the tension in his voice was considerably lessened when he said, “Read the next one.”

        Jen looked at the card and continued. “Respect: Wilsons work hard to earn each other’s respect every day.”

        Matt shrugged, eyebrows raised. “There they are. Right there on the WFV card. Trust & Respect.”

        “Yup. You’re right,” said Jen. “They’re right there in black-and-white.”

        “Honeydew.”

        “Honeydew?”

        “Honeydew,” Matt explained. “Full-on white seemed too clichéd. I remember having a long discussion with the printer. We kicked around a few ideas. Honeydew. Ivory. Eggshell. Papaya Whip. I never knew there were so many shades of white, did you?”

        Jen wanted to tell Matt to focus, but the digression was a small price to pay for the calming effect it seemed to be having. “Okay, honey,” she said, ever soothingly. “They’re right there in black-and-honeydew. Trust & Respect. Like you, I’m at a loss as to why the kids gave those such low scores on the F-MOS.”

        She paged through the F-MOS report and said, “I wonder if the survey is flawed.”

        Matt flinched at this, since he had designed the survey. “What do you mean?”

        “Maybe the reason that the kids got the Trust & Respect questions wrong is that we were asking the wrong things,” said Jen.

        The pang Matt had felt at the criticism of his survey design skills was mitigated by the possibility of a way out of this dilemma. He found the Survey tab in his F-MOS binder and began to read aloud: “On a scale of 1–5, how would you rate the level of Trust in the WF? On a scale of 1–5, how would you rate the importance of Trust in the WF?” After then reading aloud the equivalent questions for Respect, he stopped and looked up: “What could be clearer than that?”

        Jen shrugged a beats-me shrug. “I know, I know,” she said. “But let’s stay with the idea for a minute and consider the possibilities.”

        Matt went first. “Maybe they got the scale backwards and thought 1 meant good and 5 meant bad.”

        “I guess they could have,” said Jen. “But wouldn’t that mean that we did awful on the things like Selection of Cable Channels and Quality of Housing Facilities?”

        “Hmm, you’re right,” said Matt. “Maybe instead of ratings they gave us their rankings. People get confused about that all the time.”

        Jen shook her head. “That would give us the same problem. It would mean that Cable and Housing and all the rest of the things we thought were good were all tied for fifth.”

        “Right again,” Matt replied.

        “What about this?” Jen said. “Maybe asking about importance skewed their responses. Maybe they think that we’re great when it comes to Trust & Respect, but they don’t think that those things are all that important.”

        “That’s even worse!” Matt said. “That would mean that our kids think that Vehicular Options and Recreational Equipment are more important than Trust & Respect!”

        “I’m afraid that this time you’re right,” Jen said. “Is it possible that they didn’t understand what WF stands for?”

        Matt seemed shocked at this. “What could WF possibly stand for other than Wilson Family?”

        “I know, honey, I know,” Jen replied. “But maybe we shouldn’t take that for granted. I mean, we’ve been taking it for granted that our F-MOS scores would go up for Trust & Respect, haven’t we?”

        “White Flour,” said Matt.

        “White flour?”

        “Maybe they thought WF stood for White Flour.”

        Jen winced a doubtful wince: “On a scale of 1–5, how would you rate the importance of Trust in the White Flour?”

        “It would be important to a baker.”

        “I suppose you’re right.”

        “Or maybe it meant White Flower, not White Flour! Then it would be important to you when you’re at your shop!”

        Ignoring Matt’s free associating, Jen had reached an important conclusion. “We need to rework the F-MOS survey before we run it again. Or at least we need to re-work the questions about Trust & Respect, since we’re doing fine with the other stuff.”

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        “Exactly!” said Matt.

        Jen was pleased, not so much because of the decision they had come to, but because she seemed to have been able to talk her husband in off the ledge.

        “Good job, honey!” As Jen said this, she stood up. Matt remained seated.

        Jen was surprised. “Don’t you want to high-five?”

        “I thought you were going to the bathroom,” Matt said, pushing back his chair and standing.

        “No, silly,” Jen said, holding up her right arm.

        Confident that they had figured out why the Trust & Respect F-MOS scores had been so low, Matt and Jen Wilson high-fived. Exuberantly.

        And this time there was no need for Matt to awkwardly run his fingers through his hair.



© Copyright 2015, by John Guaspari

 

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