Sunday, June 03, 2007

I Just Ain't That Smart

"We will now create something new for the car business", the radio ad declared. "We're going to bring integrity and honesty to your next car purchase."

It took me a few moments of comtemplating just what hook this dealership was using and what they seemed to be insinuating. Nevermind my confusion, the commercial troubled me. So many ethical warning buzzers were tripping off in my brain, I did not know where to begin the assimilation process so I could then rush down for that "honest" deal.

I guess I was not expected to actually listen but react to the buzz words, "Honesty" and "Integrity". That somehow speaking of scruples made them so.

Hmm. The golden rules I was raised on and insisted on as a child vaporized when I reached adulthood. I remember being truly disappointed, shocked, or pissed off every time one bit the dust. I learned that for much of humanity, civilized and square dealing were empty ideas with nothing behind them. We have come to expect sleaze and pocket picking as the norm.

So when this car dealer indicated they were now going to offer honest dealing, just what did that mean? That in the past, they were less than honest? Was it a dig meant to diss their competitor further down Auto Mile? Or just recognition that honesty and integrity in general were rare commodities?

This commercial aired several days ago. It obviously affected me. I am still chewing on it and breaking it down. For some reason I think it has importance deeper than a 30 second spot to forget as soon as it passed my ears. For I am an auto dealer of sorts. I sell to the public. I service the public. And I never considered I did anything that was not honest or ethical. But now I wondered.

Just what were my responsibilities to the consuming public? What should they expect of me when they come in my bike shop? And is what they expect something I have to or worry about delivering?

Having been through several desperate periods in the last 9 years, I have been tempted to take advantage when the opportunities presented themselves. Credit cards left behind. A dropped wallet. Accidental overbilling caught but almost not corrected. Each time the ethics lessons of my parents would take over and calls were made. Cards returned, wallets found their owners and bills were cut to reflect the real job.

These temptations were personal not really business related. No, that's not true. How I conduct business is a reflection of how I conduct myself personally. The two are inextricable for me. I cannot be one thing at the shop and another when I am not. I just ain't that smart.


Tom Stormcrowe and Crazylady said...

actually, you are that smart, as in smart enough not to. ;)

How ya doin' there Mr MaCrum?

a old man with a old bike said...

This is an amazing thing to read. Not that decency and honesty are values you embrace, not even that, in virtually all cases, they prevail over strong temptation, but, rather, amazing is you think about it, think a good turn, and write so openly about it. And here I had been thinking all along that businessmen were just Republicans.