Most of the stress in my life these days is caused by people who don’t do their jobs and by companies that make promises they can’t keep.

Someone was supposed to be taking care of my parents, but they are not receiving the kind of care they need.

The staff doesn’t seem to do what they are supposed to do. They keep telling me they are sorry as they continue to drop the ball on needed medical care.

The place does not seem to operate at all like what I read about in the glossy brochure. Procedures are not followed. The staff doesn’t seem to have the required training, and they don’t seem to have enough staff on duty over the weekend.

In general, the whole world is a 9-to-5 kind of place. But my family has needs 24 hours a day, and I have to search for ways to get help on weekends, holidays and after 5 p.m. The emergency call button doesn’t work at 3 a.m. because staff did not follow procedures.

I can handle real estate emergencies for my clients most any time of day, and I am a lowly independent contractor who doesn’t even need a degree to get a license, and none of the emergencies are life-threatening.

Most of the negligent and incompetent people I have dealt with during the past few months are salaried and have advanced degrees, like the nurse who made a mistake in setting up some medications. Another failed to do a routine required check that would have prevented a lot of painful and expensive medical care.

I hired one company a couple of months ago for help at home and ended up pulling a double shift myself when the help did not show up. The low-paid, untrained employee’s car broke down and the salaried supervisor did not have anyone else to send.

None of that was mentioned in the glossy brochure that showed pretty, nicely dressed young women holding hands with elderly men with smiles on their faces.

The companies these people work for all have “visions” and “values.” They have compelling “missions” and “brands” and consider themselves to be “innovative” and even “disruptive.”

Some have state-of-the-art technology and Web portals where I can get communication that is usually in the form of partial sentences filled with abbreviations I don’t understand.

There doesn’t seem to be any relationship between the amount of pay a person receives or whether they are independent contractors, salaried employees, full time or part time, and what kind of a job they do or even how important their jobs are. Incompetence can be found at any level in any position within any company.

Thought leaders and others suggest that we could “raise the bar” in the real estate industry if we made it harder to become a real estate agent by requiring more education and training.

There are those who suggest that if real estate agents were salaried employees who got commissions as an added incentive, real estate agents would do a better job putting consumers first.

Could we all do a better job? Absolutely! Everyone needs to look at ways they can do a better job and run better companies with better employees. As real estate agents, we can always do better. I am not trying to make excuses for incompetent agents. We are no different than anyone else when it comes to skill on the job.

There is always room for improvement. We are not better than any other industry. Notice I did not say we are any worse. I don’t think the nursing profession is going to disappear because of a few incompetent and expensive nurses, or that they are going to be replaced by a media company like WebMD.

In the scheme of things, incompetence among real estate agents seems like a small problem in a world where incompetence seems to be the rule rather than the exception. Right now I am just thankful that I work in an industry that is a little less screwed up than the other industries I deal with every day.

Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog.

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