All the legislating and bureaucating ( new word, just made it up; see definition below ) regarding the locksmith industry, or any other profession, got me to thinking ( a rare but occasional effort ). A good portion of the civilized world wants everyone licensed, a way to safe guard society; never mind that these are the same folks who, at age 35 are waiting for the Tooth Fairy, “it could happen!” What about those who could care less about being safe guarded by Big Brother, those who live in the real world, have realistic expectations and live on a budget?
There are plenty of folks who get their next door neighbor to fix a broken toilet rather than call for a licensed plumber. What about those who don’t care if the “healer” they go to is a licensed “MD” or just some guy who knows how to make them feel better?
Those who need a locksmith are responsible for investigating the qualifications of who they call; this is not the responsibility of the State. Most of my customers are repeat business and already know my qualifications; either that or they are referrals from those who’ve done business with me in the past. I don’t know if there’s an easy way for folks to check with the State of Texas to see if a locksmith is licensed or not. If you like, have an easily accessed list of licensed individuals; but leave it to the public to decide who to use. Have something like the Better Business Bureau does; just because you don’t sign up with BBB doesn’t mean you’re not trustworthy, it simply means you’re not a member.
When a potential customer calls requesting service, I ask questions to determine their need and to make sure we’re on the same page. I make sure that what they’re asking for is within my abilities and their ability to pay. I do a fair amount of “teaching”, especially when it involves some of the newer transponder key technology; mostly to justify the additional expense involved so the customer understands why K-Mart’s minimum wage hardware employee can’t whip out a two dollar duplicate and expect it to start the car. It’s up to the potential customer to determine whether or not I’m the one for the job.
There’s a story about a young woman coming out of the grocery store on a rainy day. She realizes her keys are locked inside the car and falls down on her knees to pray for help. About that time a young man taps her on the shoulder and asks if he can help.
The woman asked, “Are you a locksmith?”
“No, actually I just got out of prison; I’m a convicted auto thief.”
“Thank you Lord for sending a professional”, where upon the young man fashions a coat hanger into a tool, pops the lock and retrieves the keys.
What would be the harm in having a separation, a level of achieved status; State licensed locksmiths, those who have jumped through the hoops, balanced on the wire and barked at the appropriate moment and on some other level, the unlicensed locksmiths who could give a rat’s patootie whether or not the State recognized their skills? This would take all the bite out of the male bovine excrement group we now call the Department of Public Safety Public Security Board (DPS/PSB) as their enforcement arm would no longer be needed.
The State will have “done their good deed” by making the list of qualified and reputable locksmiths available to those who seek such information while at the same time those who don’t insist on the State’s approval or advice would continue without interference.
I joined the Associated Locksmiths of America (ALOA) after a couple of years working as an apprentice; it was THE organization respected by anyone in the locksmith industry. Two veteran locksmiths had to “sign off” on my application, their acknowledgment of my skills as a locksmith. Membership in ALOA was recognition enough because there were no licensing requirements. That was 30 years ago and I proudly display the ALOA logo on my work orders and have it listed on the bottom of my letterhead; not because it’s a requirement, rather as an achievement or stamp of approval.
On the other hand, I am mandated to display my State of Texas Locksmith License number on all my paperwork because some nit wit wrote it into the rules and regulations governing licensed locksmiths; not because I feel it’s an honor, rather it feels more like a ring in my nose that has a very short length of rope attached. There was no feeling of achievement when the official license came in the mail; it’s a receipt showing I sent in my money, nothing more. Well, maybe it is more, it’s evidence of the fact that someone has hold of the strings and I’m a puppet.
Licensing doesn’t guarantee quality locksmiths, nothing government does can guarantee that. Licensing does guarantee “bureaucating”. I like this new word already; were I a big time radio talk show host folks would laugh and just have fun with it, kind of like “strategery” ( stra-tee-gerr-ee ) on the Limbaugh Show.
Bureaucating ( pronounced : be euro kate ing ): 1. the manufacturing of requirements intended to agitate and annoy incessantly, to include unwarranted expenses, those unfortunate enough to fall under the shadow of government’s ever expanding powers intended to make the world a safer place. 2. the slow and sure means by which individual rights are replaced with rules and regulations intended to impress upon the public the need for government workers who always know better. 3. one of the steps necessary in reducing citizens into serfs.