Just the Facts

Published On: June 20, 2024By Categories: Business Management, Editor's Note, Editor’s Note

By Thad Plumley

I took in a Broadway show in New York City recently and within the first five minutes of the performance, the lead actor uttered the word “groundwater.”

Do you ever feel like your job follows you?

The Tony-nominated play was An Enemy of the People and starred Jeremy Strong, best known for Succession, and Michael Imperioli, best known for The Sopranos. And, yes, seeing those two heavyweights stalk the stage together was as fun as it sounds.

The premise was a chewy one: A doctor in a Norwegian spa town in the 1800s discovers the spa’s waters are contaminated. He tells his brother, the mayor, who doesn’t show gratitude but outrage at the doctor’s desire to print an article in the local newspaper alerting the public. The mayor explains in a town hall where the public is clearly on his side that the town’s prosperity will be destroyed, people will lose jobs, and taxes will go up to fund the needed repairs with such an article. “How can you be so selfish?” he thunders.

“But people will die,” the doctor explains, utterly worn out by the battle that has surprised him. “You can’t be certain,” the mayor replies matter-of-factly.

The play is a revival of one first performed on a Norway stage in 1883. That may have amazed me more than the performances as it speaks so pertinently to issues today.

Truth and facts seem to be hard to come by. And when you do find them, they are often questioned. Are they really the facts? Are we sure it’s the truth?

I bet many people filing out of the theatre thought the play gave them a lot to think about and that the plot was a real dilemma. I walked out totally a member of Team Doctor.

The beginning of my career started on the energetic staff of a newspaper, and perhaps those early days shaped my outlook on life. My philosophy has always been simple: Find the facts because they tell you everything.

But now we live in a world where “alternative facts” was a trendy phrase on news stations in the last decade. I admit I still don’t know how those two words can ever work beside each other.

You may have faced some questions from customers when presenting them with your plan for a new water well system or test results from a well checkup. If you haven’t, you will. It’s coming.

Make sure you have your supporting information ready. It is mission critical today. Another adage I live by: Data is power.

While the doctor in the play may not agree, I think if you show reasonable people the data and explain that it is yielding facts of what must be done to maintain their water system, you’ll usually end up with a customer who understands—and often thanks you—for explaining things so clearly and with so much detail.

When all is said and done, the data is the data, and the facts are the facts.

Right?


Thad Plumley is the editor of WWJ and the director of publications for the National Ground Water Association. He can be reached at tplumley@ngwa.org, or (800) 551-7379, ext. 1594.

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