By May 19, 2008

A miniature car in a big company?

I walked out of my building at work about two weeks ago. I noticed that there was a bright yellow Smart ForTwo car in the visitors parking lot. I decided not to buy one after being one of the first people in Virginia that was awarded a reservation over a year ago. The ForTwo was too slow and was too inefficient for the tradeoffs of such a small vehicle. If the car could have gone over 82MPH or got more than 35 – 40MPG around town my purchase plans may have turned out differently.

Anyway, that’s not the point of my post. A week passed and I noticed a few people clustering around the ForTwo in the parking lot. They were all peering inside and gesturing, so I figured the owner was not among them. I was curious to talk to whomever bought the ForTwo to see if they shared the same reservations that I had about the vehicle’s performance on the highway. I reckoned that the owner traveled on surface streets between home and office. I never saw anyone get in or out of the ForTwo, and it never moved. I asked my manager what was up with the little yellow car in the parking lot.

“Oh, someone who was escorted out of the building last week bought it as a company car. He thought it would save fuel economy and speak to the company’s conservation image. I think it just sits there now.”

I didn’t have an immediate response other than “wow.” Those three sentences were really rich, and it’s taken me awhile to consider the implications. I found it interesting, and a little rebellious, to think that a company of 5000 people (on campus) would find merit in having even one Smart company car. It seemed more like a idyllic statement than a reality: surely it wasn’t cost effective to buy $15,000 cars for the cost savings of our motoring sales and executive force. Speaking of executives, I highly doubt the muckity-mucks upstairs would ditch their company-purchased Lexuses, Acuras, BMWs and Mercedes for a car that barely seats two. Lastly, I wondered who had the purchasing authority for a $15,000 car. It took me forever to get the latest version of Visio installed on my machine.

If you think none of this adds up to a sound business decision, you’re not alone. What is still an open question is if the person who bought the car was fired because of this car purchase, or because of other issues.

The car was gone in the parking lot today — I wonder if the company sold it or if someone is actually using it. It would be a hoot if my employer used it as a company car, especially after getting rid of the person who brought it onboard in the first place.

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Posted in: cars

5 Comments on "A miniature car in a big company?"

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  1. Bonb says:

    The whole “escorted out” thing makes my skin crawl. You spend your weekly life making a company rich and missing your family, and whenever they decide, they can treat you like a hobo in front of the whole organization. –Granted they guy could have been a tool.

  2. Ed says:

    Well, being escorted out is normal. It is not llike the fellow wasn’t being paid for his/her time.

    Speaking as someone who has had people escorted out, you do try to not treat then as a hobo. But you can’t allow them unlimited access to the Network or company assets once the reality of the axing has been done.

  3. drfaulken says:

    I found out yesterday that my manager was wrong — the car is privately owned by a lady that drives in every day from Williamsburg. I don’t know if the guy who was escorted out is even part of the equation.

    Somewhat deflates my post, but I hope to catch the lady some day and ask her some questions about her ForTwo.

  4. hehe so the poor guy was embarrassed and humiliated for no reason at all…..On a slightly different note, its amazing how much cheaper your cars seem to us in the UK, almost half the price due to the exchange rate!

  5. guinness merchandise says:

    Hi there, just wanted to comment on the point about the fella getting escorted out.

    It is a bit undignified but I understand the above posters comments about it being necessary to not allow them unlimited access to the building. After all once they are sacked they effectively are from that point on visitors.

    The problem is that escorting them makes them feel instantly untrusted. Not to mention probably highly embarrased.

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