Thursday, May 12, 2005

Ways to Win 

Americans should take to heart the example of these tow truck drivers in Indiana. The story begins when the local DaimlerChrysler plant comes up with one of those asinine, let's screw our own employees rules: only owners of DaimlerChrysler vehicles can park in the good spots up near the plant; all others have to park much, much farther away.

To prove a point, employee Donald Campbell drove his old GMC pick-up to work and parked it in one of the holy Chrysler Only spots. The plant had it towed away. But -- here's the kicker, and here's why we should learn from the tow truck drivers:
Owner Jim Davis said he towed two cars from the plant Monday without knowing the specifics of the new policy. After learning more, Davis said he decided to stop towing cars from the lot and would not charge owners of vehicles he had already hauled away.

"I thought we were towing them for being parked illegally until I learned the full scoop of it," said Davis. "Now we're not going to do it."...

Davis is not alone in refusing to tow cars from the lot.

Don Ellmore, owner of Martin Wrecker Service, also turned down a job at the plant.

"We backed off for customer relations reasons," he said. "It's just not worth it to aggravate somebody."
Or, to put it another way, DaimlerChrysler may come up with a stupid idea, but if no one will enable its enforcement, it's effectively dead. While the company claims that 90% of its employees drive DC cars, so they don't expect to be towing very many cars, you can hear the big back-off happening now. A couple more people will take Campbell's example and park where the hell they want, the towing companies will tell DaimlerChrysler to go get fucked, some upper management in a suit will read an unflattering story somewhere, and after a frantic afternoon emergency meeting among mid-level management, the policy will be quietly changed without fanfare.

Corporate bullshit scraped away by the power of two independent businessmen who just said no. And that's the lesson we have to take. If a policy is just plain stupid or discriminatory, defy it. Make them enforce it. If your company says you can't smoke at home but you do, light up at your desk. If they fire you, sue them under the Americans with Disabilities Act. (Addiction comes under that heading, you know.) If your company says you can't be co-habitating without marriage, again, fuck 'em. Don't quit, don't kick out your S.O.. Make them fire you or try to, then drag their corporate ass through the coals.

Two things that companies hate: negative publicity and unnecessary costs. If, like Donald Campbell and the tow truck drivers, we band together to toss it in their faces, big companies will stop being big bullies, and they'll remember that they'd be nothing without their worker bees.

I'll bet you anything that, while the tow truck drivers decided not to charge the people they towed, they'll be sending nice, fat padded bills to DaimlerChrysler. I know I would.

But hats off to Donald Campbell, Jim Davis and Don Ellmore. They're the winners of this week's Ajai Raj Award for Heroism in the face of Bullshit.

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