About twenty years ago, I was part of a business called Homeless Tires. It was a failure of epic proportions.
The idea behind the company was to recycle old tires so they could be used by power plants, keeping them out of landfills and replacing coal for some of our power needs.
Since the labor skill needed was low, our socially responsible pangs of conscience caused us to look at a new type of social contract. We would hire, train, and house homeless people.
Now, the failure part. The guy we hired to run the company went to homeless shelters, got his picture taken with senators, worked with social workers, and looked for homeless people who no longer wanted to be homeless.
The catch was they had to work. They didn’t like working the working part. For the most part, they liked drinking. Now, we weren’t prepared for that.
Another thing we weren’t prepared for was them lacking basic, common sense.
In Wisconsin, we have something called winter. So, heat is kind of a necessity. The apartments we rented used radiators. If you turned the heat up, they got hot. And, if you didn’t regulate the heat, the room will get hot.
After a couple of months of $1,000 heating bills for one bedroom apartments, I called the landlord to find out what was wrong with the furnace. I was told it was working fine.
So, I took the landlord to show him how the furnace wasn’t working. We asked to get into an apartment to take a look. And there it was, an open window.
“Damn”, I was told by one of our workers, “These apartments sure get hot!”
I pointed to the wall, “Did you turn down the thermostat?” I asked.
“The what?” was the response. “What’s a thermostat?”
At that point, I knew I was in over my head.