The rock group Van Halen (remember this?) had a provision in their performance contract that called for a bowl of M&M’s backstage – but with all the brown M&M’s removed.
This might sound like the typical ridiculous and illogical request a famous group might make, particularly when it’s said they would cancel a performance if they found a brown M&M – but there’s a lesson to be learned.
David Lee Roth explained it in his autobiography,
Van Halen was the first band to take huge productions into tertiary, third-level markets. We’d pull up with nine eighteen-wheeler trucks, full of gear, where the standard was three trucks, max. And there were many, many technical errors — whether it was the girders couldn’t support the weight, or the flooring would sink in, or the doors weren’t big enough to move the gear through.
The contract rider read like a version of the Chinese Yellow Pages because there was so much equipment, and so many human beings to make it function. So just as a little test, in the technical aspect of the rider, it would say “Article 148: There will be fifteen amperage voltage sockets at twenty-foot spaces, evenly, providing nineteen amperes . . .” This kind of thing. And article number 126, in the middle of nowhere, was: “There will be no brown M&M’s in the backstage area, upon pain of forfeiture of the show, with full compensation.”
So, when I would walk backstage, if I saw a brown M&M in that bowl . . . well, line-check the entire production. Guaranteed you’re going to arrive at a technical error. They didn’t read the contract. Guaranteed you’d run into a problem. Sometimes it would threaten to just destroy the whole show. Something like, literally, life-threatening. [Snopes.com]
When it comes to running our masajid, there are a lot of brown M&M type of scenarios. For example, on Friday, is the adhan called out with the proper pronunciation? This can serve as an easy way to tell how much attention is paid to these types of details. What about when a person who regularly leads prayers having bad tajweed? What about a regular khateeb who shaves his beard?
For some, these details might be nit-picking. The reality is that it indicates the level of care and concern of the community and those in charge. We’ve settled for too long with lowering the bar instead of challenging ourselves to raise it.
It’s a lot like clean bathrooms. Everyone has something that represents their brown M&M’s. This is not a case of ignoring the small things for the sake of the big things. The onus is on those of us in charge to pay attention to the details and make sure we get the little things and the big things right.