Vroom! Vroom! (On Buying an Automobile and Empowering Employees)

Vroom! Vroom! (On Buying an Automobile and Empowering Employees) January 23, 2021

I learned something last week, but first I must tell you how, painfully, I learned this universal lesson.


At last our motorcar, the faithful Israel, who came to us a lemon that by a divine warranty was made useful, gave out along with her coverage. She was not worth the cost of repairs and so Consumer Reports ratings in hand we went off into the Internet to buy a new-to-us used car. The final results were, we think, very good: low mileage Virgil who will guide us through the hell of Houston freeways to the purgatory of frontage roads and get us to the very gates of Paradise. 

We can have good hope in this automobile, but the experience of buying her was horrid. This was despite the price being fair, all the employees splendid, and the final purchase excellent. Let us call the company Vroom and this will be a review of how all the big things can go wonderfully well, but the small things bobbled can make one choose differently next time.

Be warned and learn.

I should have known.

We knew the car and the year we wanted, the mileage we desired, and the general price that was fair. This is doing due research and thanks to the wonders of Duck-Duck-Go, finding a motorcar in some other state is a possibility. We even searched the history of the vehicle. All was well.

The salesman was home, obviously, pandemic and all, but he labored with his clunky connection and kept trying. The call dropped a time or two, but he was a dogged man and got back to us. We enjoyed talking to this good man and he got the sale. How we love the free market!


We should have realized that he was oddly incapacitated at times. . .having to call supervisors for even the most basic of permissions. Was he new? Was there a problem?

As it turns out: “no.”

Vroom has excellent employees, working from home computers, with almost no ability to make any decision. They are cheerful to a fault, but impotent, unable to solve the simplest problem. The Scrooges of Vroom leave their employees only the power to apologize. The worker is willing, but the structure is weak.

Something went wrong. 

None of this business mismanagement stuff would have mattered, but something went wrong. The people picking up our old motor, Israel, picked her up too soon, long before Virgil was scheduled to descend to us. We were left without a car. Everyone we called knew there was an error, were sorry there was an error, let us record them admitting there was an error, but had no ability, no power, to get us a rental or to solve the problem. When we asked to speak to a supervisor, we got a supervisor who agreed we had a problem, agreed with the solution, promised to call us, and then did not.


The company that picked up old Israel did call repeatedly and kept trying to pick her up. Sadly, you can only pick up a used car once.

The hold music was good, being classical, but hours of it got old and still we had no car. Everyone, all of us, agreed on what should be done, but none of us could do it. We were all pleasant people without power. No voices were raised, we even had time to discuss the state of the world, but nothing was done, because (evidently) nothing could be done.

Virgil came at last.

The Problem: such as it is. 

This is not an important problem as problems go. All is well. I am most blessed to be able to complain about such matters.

And yet I was reminded of something: Let the people doing the work have the power to fix the problems. 

I manage a complex organization that is growing. My goal has been to hire brilliant people, but if I hire good folk, there is no good reason not to let them make decisions. Let the workers work in power! 

It has become popular to hate Amazon, and mayhap there are reasons so to do, but my experience is that the first person with whom I speak can solve my problem. I never have to escalate. I never have to discuss the logic of the situation. Amazon gives power to the person doing the work.

Vroom? Vroom does not.

That made me stop, think about it. 

Do I do the same?

Do I hire brilliant people and leave them powerless to do their jobs? If so, then I am Vroom and after a day on hold I can assure you that no man, no woman, no for profit, no non-profit, no being, legal, fictional, or biological, should wish to be Vroom. Instead be Amazonian, as powerful as Wonder Woman, and give to every worker the ability to work, to do the job.

Let’s all go empower the folks.




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