Photo courtesy Autoblog.com
It's no secret that the economy is in the toilet, and even now two years in only a few of us are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. One of the hardest hit areas of the country is Michigan, in no small part due to the fall of the American auto industry.
You can imagine how this translates at the auto show.
People in the US, and around the world I would imagine, are angry. They are angry that their homes are worth tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars less than what they paid for them. They are angry that they don't have jobs. They are angry that their tax dollars went to a bailout for companies that were severely mismanaged. They are angry that foreign auto companies are still somewhat successful, or at least hemorrhaging money at a slower rate than the domestics.
As a product specialist in the middle of this, you get one of two types of crazies depending who you represent. If you're with a foreign company you get the misplaced anger of people thinking you are the cause of America's ills, not realizing how much money such companies actually pump into the American economy. If you're with a domestic company, you're called a "Bailout Babe" and yelled at by angry union members.
I have news for you. I am not the president of GM.
I don't run Toyota.
And in fact, I'm not actually employed by any of the manufacturers you're bitching about and have no pull at all. What does this mean to you? Your yelling, whining and rudeness is all for naught.
I am a performer contracted to an automotive company through a talent agency. I am highly trained and extremely knowledgeable on my chosen subject of automobiles, but I am a contractor nonetheless. That means I had nothing to do with accepting bailouts, where your car was manufactured, why your husband lost his job or any other reason you have an ugly attitude today.
I am happy to write down constructive criticism to pass along to corporate, and in fact part of my job is recording customer comments. I will not, however, listen to vitriol and ignorance. That is not part of my job. And if that is how you approach me, you'll see my back turned to you very quickly. Nowhere in my contract does it say I have to talk to jerks.
PS - Autoblog wrote about the Bailout Babe thing after the New York Auto Show last April - check out their take on it here.