Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Could a Saab driver be the next US President?

As today is primary day in my home state, I am reminded of the many politicians I have come to know over the years while working in the retail automobile business. Some I knew while they were in office, while others before or after their political careers. Most were lovely. Most.

Most forgettable was Thomas O’Neill, son of House Speaker Tip O’Neill. During his years as Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts he drove a Honda Accord which I serviced. Mr. O’Neill was very low key, notable even, in his lack of charisma. He was very nice, but just nice. Thus it was not a surprise to me when he rather vanished from the political landscape.

Most obnoxious was Boston City Councilman Albert “Dapper” O’Neil. He was every bit the buffoon in real life as he appeared to be when in the political limelight. He had to make an enormous entrance every time he appeared at the dealership, and expected that the world would stop to tend to his whims. He was contemptuous of everyone in his path. Mr. O’Neil was indeed a living cartoon character. He drove a Chevy Caprice sedan, which was rather plain and, uncharacteristically, understated.

My favorite political figure and client was Massachusetts Governor William Weld. During his years as US attorney, prior to going to Beacon Hill, Mr. Weld and his (now ex) wife had a Suburban which he serviced with me in Cambridge. He was agreeable, self-effacing, patient, and polite. We didn’t really get to see the goofy side, but it never surprised me when that came out when he was governor.

Boston City Council President Bruce Bolling was a Saab driver. He had a Malachite Green 1989 9000T. Nice guy. Hope he never had to bear the indignity of serving with Dapper O’Neil.

Finally, Mitt and Ann Romney were customers of mine here at Charles River Saab (and one of their sons purchases and services his Saabs here). My recollection was of a 1987 9000T, but in our files I also see that they owned 1996 9000 CSE as well. I believe I saw Mrs. Romney more than Mr., but both were as exceedingly nice as they were good looking. It’s a shame to see what the political process does to people. I was occasionally disappointed in Romney the Governor, and certainly there are moments during this campaign where I wish he could just be more like the gentleman who would stand at my desk and discuss the repairs on his Saab. That guy I could vote for without hesitation. Then again, that guy probably couldn’t get elected president of anything.

The electorate has the power to do something unprecedented. While not endorsing anyone in this election cycle, I can assert that Mitt Romney, if elected President, would likely be the only US President who could also claim to have been a Saab owner. How cool is that? We may never have that opportunity again! Think of that as you go to the polls.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Saying Good-Bye

We've had to say good-bye to some of our co-workers (all, fortunately, relocated to other Village Auto Group locations, except for Mike Clancy who had long ago planned to retire in December), and we are hearing of friends with Saab Cars NA and Saab in Trollhattan who are now departing. More than the possible loss of the brand, it is the toll that all of this takes on Saab's people which is most gut wrenching, at least for me.

When I'm not listening to Foo Fighters or Apocalyptica, I enjoy a bit of aural repose with Andrea Boccelli. I don't know Italian, but I know enough to understand that this song is about parting with someone, so for all you to whom we've said good-bye, this song's for you.