Bill Zahner

Why It’s OK To Work Behind the Scenes, Too

Jose Vilson Jose 3 Comments

Bill Zahner

Recently, I’ve subscribed to Wired Magazine, a fascinating magazine that I wish I subscribed to earlier. In the alleged denouement of the printed word, mags like Wired still keep nerds like me enchanted with the quirky and the electric. In their last mag, they had the audacity to feature a guy named Bill Zahner. When I first saw him on page 28 of the August issue, I said, “Who the …?” Then, I noticed the structures right below him holding a piece of metal in his warehouse.

If you’ve ever heard of names like Mayne, Stout, or Gehry, then you should know guys like Zahner. In a time when pseudo-intellectuals praise the art of the people with the ideas, it’s equally important for the rest of us to praise the people who set that idea into motion. In the next year, there will be doctoral students frustrated with their teacher for taking all their research and putting his or her name on it with no accreditation, ghostwriters annoyed with figureheads who boast about the excellent paper they wrote, and chefs disappointed with patrons for tipping the waiters and complimenting the manager for their delicious meal while the chef gets burnt every half-hour or so.

Sometimes, it comes with the territory, and people revel in their sub rosa lifestyle. Yet, this is a post to celebrate you just for that. It’s hard to point a finger at who doesn’t deserve credit when people still fall for images and veils. There’s something to be said for someone who works hard without homage, who’s so good that they’ll do it for free (knowing it’ll pay dividends down the line). Then, when they get the pat on the back or their just desserts, they take a small breath, and get back to work on their job. We owe a debt of gratitude to the people who ensure there’s heat in our stoves, there’s quality food in our bellies, and we get to work on time. The sort of stuff we take for granted keeps people up through nights when their own families miss them.

They listen to the average person and make life easier for us, as if we thought of it ourselves. That sort of “natural” feeling takes immense amounts of backbreaking labor and intuitiveness, but I’ve come to see that many people have many ideas, and a good fraction of them might be great, but the idea-makers, the alchemists who condense gas to solid, deserve props, too. People like Zahner is an artist in his own right, because it’s hands like his that make those pretty drawings into toering structures.

And his efforts take and transcend time and space.

Jose, who knows a little about work.

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Comments 3

  1. msladydeborah

    I have to agree with you on the idea of being a behind the scenes producer. That is a position of true power and pleasure. So many people want to be the one that everyone associates with the end results. Too many people never take the time to dig deep enough to realize that there is a whole lot more than meets the eye.

    I really like the video link. I am about to finish up my undergraduate degree work and that was a sermon that I needed to hear. Thanks for sharing it.

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