Always Da Rook
Phil Bondi, RPT
There was a time, many many years ago, as I first started on this piano technology journey, when my humility was very apparent. My career as a piano technician is a product of wonderful mentors too numerous to mention, along with e-mail technical discussions and social media contacts. Although I was an adequate piano player when I began, I knew nothing about how it all worked—but there was sheer determination to take in as much as I could. I’m sure I’m no different than many people starting out in this field. The one difference was probably my self-deprecating tendencies.
There are times when I take myself quite seriously, but when speaking to and learning from people who know much more than I do, my preference is to take the back seat, take a look around, and enjoy the ride. Putting my trust in those more accomplished than I am is the right thing to do. It’s only human nature to try not to be a part of the herd for some things, and that’s where my self-inflicted nickname came from.
As green and inexperienced as I was, I was not embarrassed. I was the Sgt. Schultz of the old Pianotech list; I knew nothing. Yes, I had mentors, but the closest one lived four hours away. My initial contact with piano technology and first love of the profession came from Larry Crabb and the Atlanta PTG chapter, which was an eight-hour drive from my home. There were a couple of techs locally who also helped, but the real meat and potatoes of my development came from Atlanta. That chapter adopted me, and to this day I still receive their chapter e-mails and notifications. My willingness to learn, coupled with my admittedly somewhat warped sense of humor, led to me calling myself “Da Rook” for online discussions. Using that title put me in a place mentally that lent itself to real learning, and those who were teaching got a kick out of it! It’s been 20 years since I signed on to that list, and people still refer to me as Da Rook. It made an unintended impression.
When I was approached to become the Regional Vice President for the Southeast Region, it took a very long time for me to decide. When I accepted the invitation to run, it was suggested that I was no longer Da Rook. Quite the contrary. I was now entering an arena where, again, I knew very little to nothing. I was Sgt. Schultz all over again. I had experience in a former life with leading a production crew in a 24-hour manufacturing facility, but this position was going to be different than that. I was being asked to lead and inform piano technicians, many of whom had been around a lot longer than I had. Humility was required, coupled with carefully worded statements that didn’t sound too political—straight talk. (Remember, from a previous Executive Outlook?) I was learning all over again.
Each step of the way to acquiring this chair has been met with the same humility. The one thing I learned from my mentors is that just because you have seen how an operation works, it doesn’t mean you know how to run it. Amen. There’s a lot to learn and a lot to share. My hope is that this process is ongoing with the elected officials of our organization, and also with those just entering the field of piano technology, as I was 20 years ago.
Once Da Rook, always Da Rook. That’s how I stay humble, and thankful.