Building bridges

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Appreciation and respect are great ways to build bridges. Another way is by hiring a top notch bridge company.

Last week, I covered some ground with a hard hat, safety vest and Bill Scott, Vice President of Scott Bridge Company.

He asked me to accompany him as we visited several job sites throughout Alabama, Florida and Georgia. It was that time of year for the annual 401(k) briefings, which are incredibly important and beneficial but can be equally as mundane. He brought me along to inject a little humor.

We had an exciting few days. We flew on their private plane out of Auburn on Monday morning and landed in Savannah, Ga., just about an hour later.

By automobile, it’s a five-hour drive. Flying is the way to go.

Because of the weather, it was a bit bumpy on the way up, but at least we weren’t being shot at like I was on previous flights aboard smaller aircraft in lands far, far away. We visited the job site on the Savannah River before going to lunch. The first set went pretty well, and I really learned a lot from the 401(k) briefing. After lunch, we boarded the plane once again for a quick flight to Thomson, Ga. I once had a show at the Best Western in Thomson, Ga. That’s when you know you’ve hit the big time.

The visit to the jobsite in the nearby town of Lincolnton was an eye-opener. I had no idea the amount of work and detail that went into each project. In some cases, they have to build a temporary bridge and a work bridge alongside the original bridge. They even use fancy equipment to pour concrete underwater.

Later that night, we met at the Lincolnton Event Center for dinner, comedy and the 401(k) briefing. The meal was catered and was fabulous.

Scott Bridge takes care of its employees, and it’s important that they do so, because bridge work is hard work. In any line of work, it’s vital to build that bridge between the office and those with boots on the ground. At each event, in addition to the free meal, each employee was given a hat and a $40 Wal-mart gift card.

We drove through a torrential downpour on Tuesday to visit the crew working at Lake Lanier, Ga., about an hour north of Atlanta.

Wednesday was quick work at the shop and home office in Opelika. I didn’t even have to wear my hard hat, so my hair looked “Nick Saban good” all day long.

The final day of visits was Thursday. We once again boarded the plane but this time flew to Gulf Shores. It was a beautiful day. The skies were clear, and we could see a hundred miles, but the first mile was the best as we flew over Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn. The flight near the Gulf of Mexico and Mobile Bay was quite spectacular, too.

Each day the lunch crowd was responded well to my humor. On the final day at a restaurant near the beach in Gulf Shores, I could’ve performed for an hour and a half. I was on cloud nine. That night, in Pensacola, Fla., I was brought back down to earth. It was ugly. I thought they wanted to hurt me. I know they were tired and ready to get home, but they looked at me like I’d stolen their Walmart gift cards.

A few minutes after my set, I went out and sat in a rocking chair on the front porch of the restaurant. I wasn’t upset about my performance. OK, perhaps I was a little upset, but I’ve been doing this long enough to know that there’ll be good shows and bad shows. That’s just how it works. I also went out to the porch because I’d heard that 401(k) briefing seven times, and although the 401(k) people were really good, I just wasn’t up for No. 8.

Be that as it may, when the briefings came to an end, half the men stopped by to shake my hand and to thank me. The other half didn’t speak English, so they had no clue as to what I was saying anyway. That made me feel even better about my performance.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a comedian, a bridge builder or Nick Saban’s personal hair stylist, it feels good to be appreciated. A simple thank you and handshake can go a long way in building long-lasting bridges with your family, friends and employees, and it usually doesn’t even require a hard hat.

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit www.jodyfuller.com.

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