I generally don’t write anything here about work, ever since I got paranoid after hearing about people like Dooce and the Sarcastic Journalist who got fired for blogging about their jobs. So this technically isn’t a post about my job, but there is a very strange phenomenon with the culture here at the Giant Software Company that I find fascinating. There seems to be an awful lot of employees here – almost exclusively male, from my observation – who have made insane amounts of money in their careers, and they spend it on things that most of us would never even think about spending our hard-earned money on. I mean, sure there are all the geek toys, and I suppose that’s inherent with any software company, that the nerds have to outdo each other as far as who has the newest/coolest laptop, cell phone, digital camera, PDA, whatever. For anyone who knows the passion that I have for my iPod, it’s clear that I am guilty of this too, to some extent. But then, some purchases are just dumb. For example, I’ve seen several people riding around on those silly-looking Segway scooter things. So not only do you look like an idiot, you look like an idiot who wasted $5K because your ass is too lazy to walk from your office to the men’s room. And we wonder why the obesity epidemic is spiraling out of control in this country. Right.
But then, there are the luxury sports car guys. These guys are in a class totally by themselves. They are outta control with the money that they spend on cars. Until I moved to this part of the country, I had never seen a Lotus in real life, and now I see them on a semi-regular basis. If you drive through any of the parking garages here at the Giant Software Company, sure, you’ll find lots of standard-issue sedans, mini-vans and the like – even the occasional hybrid, God bless ’em – but then there are all of these insanely overpriced sports cars. They’re usually parked in the isolated parts of the garage where no one else parks, far away from the other cars, because the owners don’t want to risk that another car might park next to them, carelessly open their door and scratch their precious automobile. (When I was thinking about this post in my head, I thought “car thief’s dream” to describe the parking garages here. Then I remembered that there are security cameras everywhere, so um, perhaps not.) I’m not saying that there’s necessarily anything wrong with owning a luxury sports car, but to have one as your daily commute-to-work vehicle? Seems a bit silly to me. It’s not like these are fuel-efficient cars, so why drive them every day? Unless… oh wait, that’s right. The whole point of owning it is to show off in a “looky-look at what I can afford!” kind of way. Which in my opinion? Is really pathetic.
This became really evident to me this morning when I was driving to work. I was stuck in traffic at a red light. In front of me, there was a Porsche Boxster convertible. To my right, there was a BMW Z3, also a convertible. Both cars had their tops down – which, ok fine, it was 65 degrees and sunny. Both drivers were white males, who looked like they were in their 40’s, and they both had parking decals that indicated that they work at the same company as myself. I started mentally playing “who’s the bigger asshole?” in my head.
– Porsche guy – full head of gray hair: 1 point
– BMW guy – brown hair, but he’s losing it fast: 1 point
– Porsche guy – Oakley “yeah, I look cool” sunglasses (I could see him pretty well in his rearview mirror): 1 point
– BMW guy – pretty standard, non-flashy sunglasses, look like they might be prescription: 0 points
– BMW guy – also wearing a really dorky plaid shirt: 0 points (I could subtract points for this instead of just giving him zero, but I can’t see what Porsche guy is wearing to compare)
– Porsche guy – is that an earring that I see reflected in his sideview mirror???: 5 points
– Porsche guy – oh wait, I think he just has a weirdly-shaped earlobe: -5 points
– Porsche guy – talking on his cell phone (the person on the other end must love him for that, all that wind from his convertible hitting the receiver): 1 point
– BMW guy – takes a sip out of a Starbucks cup: 1 point
– BMW guy – tries to speed up and cut us all off as soon as the light turns green: 1 point
So, they were both equal assholes, but in different ways. I’m not sure what the lesson to be learned is in this scenario, except that if you’re a man of a certain age, there are certain automobiles that you should not be caught driving, because women in their 20’s (who, presumably, are at least one of the target demographics that you’re trying to impress) will make fun of you on their blogs. The end.
The parking lot here was packed with expensive sporty cars like Ferraris and Maseratis and the like for a while. Then when the neighboring company that was paying its employees those ridiculous salaries tanked, the lot reverted to its previous Honda-ness and the one-car-per-stall courtesy is observed again.
Oh, God, totally. Don't even get me started about the prominence of luxury vehicles here in Stepford. The graduation present du rigor here is a mini-Cooper convetible, adorned with Grateful Dead or alternatively "Mrs. Pitt" bumper stickers. When I went home a few weeks ago, I was overwhelmed by the sight of all the normal cars. I even said, out loud, to someone (My sister? My mom?), "Look at all the Hondas!" I was so excited. Someone…. Please.. Get. Me. OUT. of. Here.