I am a huge fan of “burn me once, shame on you, burn me twice, shame on me.” Some people, like my old editor Sev Pearman, call that being “a hater.” When it comes to products and corporations, I have no problem with that tag. I am absolutely capable of permanently despising a wide range of corporate entities. I am a firm believer in Robert Pirsig’s “culture is a higher animal” analysis from Lila; An Inquiry into Morals. Businesses, neighborhoods, cities, states, nations, and humanity, in general, have personalities, habits and tendencies, strengths and weaknesses, and perversions that tend to stick once they are imprinted. I might give a bad supplier a 2nd chance, after watching their behavior for a few decades, but I never feel any sort of guilt for permanently acquiring an aversion to a particularly company’s products. Never. Just because I’m a “lower animal” doesn’t mean that I won’t pay attention to the qualities and character of a dominant species. I’m no different than a dog who knows who will pet it and who will kick it.
Sometimes, I pick up my corporate prejudices from other’s experiences. For example, I don’t need to own my own Ducati to know that I will never have the patience, expendable income, or limited driving range to tolerate those fragile, unserviceable, overpriced bits of Italian mechanical extravagance. I have heard enough from Ducati owners to last me what little is left of my lifetime. Oddly, I actually think many of Ducati’s motorcycles are flat out ugly (particularly the engine wiring and plumbing), so that the one big draw to the company’s products eludes me. (I don’t like wine, either. So, I am clearly not properly educated.) Fiat’s vehicles are at the other end of the cost-spectrum, but I’ve been around enough Fiat owners and ex-owners to know that’s not an option for me, either. While one of BMW’s bikes, the R80GS granddaddy adventure tourer, is on my favorite bike list, it’s not there due to my having owned one. Again, from owner horror stories I’ve never considered my income as being in the necessary bracket for BMW ownership. The company’s stuff costs too much, initially, and their maintenance costs would move me out of hobbyist and too close to professional expenses.
On my own time, I have born long-term experience-based grudges for MG, Triumph (cars and motorcycles and most Brit-made mechanical devices), Suzuki (thanks to my 1974 RL250 debacle and experience with the company while I was a racer’s mechanic during the 70’s RM-canted shocks years), Mazda (thanks to my RX3 station wagon disaster), Sony everything, Apple most things, Toshiba computers and hardware, and, most recently, Volkswagen. Due mostly to word-of-mouth recommendations, I overrode my Suzuki prejudice a couple of years after the introduction of the SV650 and discovered that Suzuki wasn’t all bad. That led to my current “big bike” ride, a 2004 DL-650 V-Strom. So far, I’m still liking Suzuki pretty well, although their dealer network has taken some serious hits in the last decade; a worrisome fact.
When I get taken to task for my disinterest in exploring some of my other corporate prejudices, my response is always “Why?” It’s not like any of these companies make products I can’t get anywhere else (unlike Suzuki in 1999 and 2004). If I can find a decent version of whatever it is I need from a company I have some faith in, why should I try the detested brands? Exactly what’s in it for me? So far, “nothing” has been the answer. Grudges, like stereotypes, are handy, practical, efficient, and sometimes accurate. When it comes to corporate stereotypes/prejudices, I do not believe I am harming a “person,” no matter what sort of insane drive is spouted on that subject by our currently deranged Extreme Court. Like Mr. Hightower said, “I’ll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one.” In fact, I sorta look forward to that moment, assuming the convicted corporation is Exxon, Halliburton, GE, Goldamn-Sacks or something of that ilk.
In a life with a rapidly diminishing future, I’m perfectly happy to pick up any sort of efficiency available. I relive enough of my old unpleasant moments without searching out some of the sources of those bad times for a reenactment. Call it bias, prejudice, bigotry, or just a plain old fashioned grudge, but I don’t have enough time left to see if a bunch of bozos who screwed me once will screw me again. Let all of my mistakes be new ones.