For most of the two plus decades David and I have co-owned our business, we have had three vehicles: his primary car, my primary car, and the so called “company truck.” The company truck is, in reality, not owned by our company but instead, is co-owned by David and me just like our other vehicles. The company truck has always been a large SUV that can carry our employees and our equipment to wherever we need to work for our clients (as long as our destination is within driving distance, instead of flying distance). Many times, due to my busy schedule, one or more of our employees drives the company truck without David or me present, leaving David and/or me to drive another car separately. I used to think our employees would recognize that, due to the fact they are driving and riding in their bosses’ vehicle, they would exercise due care and respect our personal property. Needless to say, as with many things in life, I was wrong. Not only have many (not merely a few) of Magnus’ employees failed to realize they are driving David’s and my personal vehicle, which we worked hard to buy, they have treated our vehicle worse than I have ever treated anyone’s vehicle, including a rental car. Employees have broken our trailer hitch (by dropping a heavy equipment case on it), our seats, and ruined parts of the interior; employees have spilled coffee and other sticky drinks and food inside our vehicle; employees have stolen our personal property from our vehicle; and employees have literally trashed the inside of our vehicle. Guess who has to clean the employees’ trash out of my truck? How about who has to pay for what they break or steal? These are true stories, dear reader; I only wish I were making this up! So, word to the wise, when driving the boss’ car, be clean, be careful, and only remove what belongs to you if you plan to keep your job.
Driving the “company” car, or “boss,’” car is a privilege not given lightly. In our business, of course, we know about the liability issues that are also a part of the equation. But, you have to get the job done and, as Melissa said, we have always expected that common sense would dictate that an employee should treat that vehicle as well as, or even better than, the employee would treat his/her own car. I know I have had some repairs and maintenance done to those vehicles from time to time that, had it not been something employees might use, I would have foregone or delayed. I always want to ensure the vehicle is in top condition. But, common sense is not sometimes as common as we thought it should be. This has required training and policies related to the use of the vehicle – both as to drivers, but also as to passengers. One employee who used copious amounts of hair gel left a big “oil slick” on the window against which he rested his head while sleeping on the way to or from a research day – you’d think someone would notice, but no. The point is, in one’s career, there are often seemingly “small” events or things that one does that show one’s true self and may limit career opportunities. Being careless with the boss’ car, or anything owned by the company/boss, says volumes about whether who the employee is deep down. Is the employee committed to the company? Respectful of the people who write his/her paycheck? Or, careless, thoughtless and unwilling to put in a bit of effort to do the right thing?