A Chauffeur's story.
My first job at the major petroleum company was to oversee maintenance of service stations throughout Southern California and Nevada. No, I did not drive around a service truck in a uniform with my name tag embroiled although some of the women that I attempted to ask out thought that. Others thought I worked as a cashier at a gas station.
My job involved contracting out maintenance services to vendors who did the actual work on site. Don't yawn yet. I'm still talking.
One day, we got word that the CEO was taking a "field trip" to a service station as part of his executive objective to assess how our retail division was doing. This instantly kicked my department into overdrive. My manager ordered me to round up vendors to refurbish the station within the next 48 hours.
ABC must have gotten the idea for the popular reality show Extreme Home Makeover from us. Painters, pavers, roofers, electricians and others converged on this service station and worked around the clock, and the outcome was astonishing.
Given the dilapidated state of the surrounding area, the only analogy I could think of was a freshly picked rose in the toilet. Don't spend too much time trying to visualize that. The price tag for the rose was about $100,000.
The CEO's visit lasted about 15 minutes and a collective sigh of relief followed. I got to keep my job.
One of my grandfather's friends was a chauffeur for the first President of South Korea back in the 50's. The President would venture out from his mansion and make field trips to see how the people were living.
One such trip was to a department store in Seoul. After inspecting an assortment of merchandise, he marveled at how "affordable" everything was. The country was getting stronger and his policy was doing wonders, he effused in front of the throng of cameras.
Unbeknownst to him, his handlers converged on the store in force the night before and changed out the price tags, slashing prices by 99% or more. This was just one example of how insulated he was from the harsh reality of life in postwar Korea, and his presidency inevitably ended in disgrace after leaving a trail of corruption and incompetence.
One day, my grandfather's chauffeur friend informed his boss that he was getting married. The President congratulated him and whipped out a wad of cash, and said, "This ought to get you a house in the most elite neighborhood of Seoul. And while you are at it, buy yourself and your bride a car too."
What he gave him was not enough to buy a used bicycle, let alone a house in the Beverly Hills of Seoul and a car. Too bad he couldn't just magically cut the price of an expensive mansion as the President's handlers could do at the department store.
The South Korean president was a clueless dictator of a third world country 50 years ago. At least he had an excuse. He lacked the necessary logistics to just barge into a department store unannounced with security details in place.
The CEO? If he really wanted to know how his stores were doing (there were 300 of them within 20 miles of the corporate headquarters alone), why couldn't he have jumped into the car and driven over to one down the street? What a noble concept.
In this case, the CEO's chauffeur was the one who always gave us a heads up and made my life miserable. He had me constantly on my toes bracing myself for the next $100,000 rose in the toilet.