Paying It Forward

By Jim McCloskey

While I was in Las Vegas at the International Pool|Spa|Patio Expo, a young gentleman I’d never met before approached the booth and asked, “So what’s the difference between Essential and Platinum Reflections?”

“That’s simple,” I replied, pointing out that Essentials in the twice-monthly WaterShapes EXTRA newsletter are articles I see as being must reading for anyone who

works with water in decorative or recreational contexts – cool stuff I want everyone to enjoy. For their part, Platinum Reflections projects were at one point specifically highlighted in special issues of the magazine as being great – again, cool stuff the editor and I wanted to celebrate.

“So,” my interrogator continued, “what’s the difference?”

“Well,” I said, scrambling a bit, “if I had to define a difference it would be that Essential articles can be about more than one project, while Platinum articles are only about single projects.” They’re all great, I continued, but Essentials tend to be about big concepts, while Platinums single out amazing execution. I was starting to tread a bit of water here, because I couldn’t recall off hand if any of the projects that had enjoyed Platinum Standard award status had also appeared in the Essential slot. (So far no, as I discovered later.)

Anyway, I knew that if I was pressed any farther I’d have to resort to a shrug. Then it occurred to me to pose a question of my own: “Why do you ask?”

“My boss makes me read them when your newsletter gets to our office,” he said. “He tells me that someday he wants my work to be recognized this way. So I just thought I’d ask.”

What a cool thought, I said to myself, then said aloud that communicating ideas to designers and builders (and especially to young ones) is exactly the goal the magazine had – and that we’ve been pushing the same goal in our web site and newsletter ever since. I told him that I was glad his boss saw it that way, too, and wanted his employee be aware of what we’ve done and what we’re doing.

He didn’t have a card, but I saw a familiar company name on his badge and look forward to hearing from him again someday.

This is why, as much as I sometimes see attendance at trade shows as too much of a time commitment, I will always go and almost always enjoy myself. As I wrote in my last blog, it’s sort of a family reunion for me, and I particularly prize encounters with new people who on some level or other seem to value what we do – even if they have questions about how or why we do it.

I don’t know whether I’ll end up working with this young man to bring one of his future projects to a broader audience, but I love the fact that he stopped by and had enough gumption to make me explain myself, even if that explanation was as slippery as an eel. The important thing was that he was reading the articles, processing the words and images and expecting he’d be doing work on a high level someday.

It makes me feel good about the future and keeps me going, no doubt about it.

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