Sunday, April 17, 2011

Look out at the Sports Cars...

Three times in my life, I’ve been fascinated by all the sports cars parked outside. I’m going to assemble these memories for you.

The most recent time: There were undesirable changes at the garage that had been fixing our car, so we tried a different guy. We had a recommendation, but he was a character, and his garage was a strange, old-fashioned jumble. But outside his garage was an assortment of sports cars, very expensive vehicles, and he was working on some of them. If they trusted him, I could, and I relaxed.

The first time: I was no longer a grad student at the university. My wife was, and we wished to continue living in the official (and inexpensive) grad student housing. A dean was kicking us out. His reason? The “head of the household” was not a student. He told us that since I was not a student, I was in a position to earn money, and had no need for the housing.

“Is this a means test?” I asked. “Do you query grad students about their means?”

He conceded he didn’t.

I told him that about a quarter of the people living in grad student housing had sports cars! I had definitely scored a point, but it was not the decision-maker that enabled us to stay.

The other time: I was working at an Exxon-enabled startup. We had swelled to a hundred employees and moved into a brand new, four-story business building. I was looking down at the parking lot with our CEO, as he sadly shook his head.

“Too many sports cars out there,” he said. “The salaries we’re paying are way too high.”

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