Thursday, February 18, 2010

“CARS: A New Member”

c. 2010 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Note to Readers: What follows here is a one-act play about the evolving state of automobile manufacturing. The participants have chosen to meet far away from the glare of media attention in Washington, D.C. or Detroit. In another venue, the group would face much scrutiny from the public. But in northeastern Ohio, they remain anonymous, and safe.

THE SETTING – A secluded boardroom near Lake Erie.

THE PLAYERS – Lee Iacocca, former chairman of Chrysler Corporation; General Motors; Henry Ford XVI; Antonio Chrysler; Hiro Toyota.

LEE IACOCCA- “I’d like to welcome all of you to Cleveland! Today, we are inducting a new member into our group. One who, until recently, didn’t fit our guidelines for membership…”

GENERAL MOTORS – “Guidelines? Ten hut, I didn’t get the memo on those.”

ANTONIO CHRYSLER – “Hey, I thought the only guideline for being here was hard luck with customers.”

G. MOTORS – “Hard luck? I’ve had plenty of that.”

A. CHRYSLER – “Me too, old man. I’ve got enough unsold cars to fill all the casino parking lots in Vegas. Heyy!”

HENRY FORD XVI – “Be quiet, Lee is talking!”

L. IACOCCA – “Today, we are bringing in someone who has begun to learn how difficult it can be to make automobiles in the real world…someone who used to enjoy a reputation for nearly perfect products.”

G. MOTORS – “At ease, soldier. Building cars ain’t that big of a battle!”

A. CHRYSLER – “Nah, not when the government pays for your screw-ups…what a deal!”

FORD XVI – “Quiet! Please!”

L. IACOCCA – “Let’s give a warm CARS welcome to our newest member… Hiro Toyota!”

(Everyone responds with applause)

HIRO TOYOTA – (Bowing) “I apologize for my presence at this table.”

G. MOTORS – “Apologize?”

FORD XVI – “Calm down, Hiro. There’s no shame in being with us.”

A. CHRYSLER – “At least now maybe we can sell a few cars. Heyy!”

G. MOTORS – “You got no class, private!”

FORD XVI – (Points to his head, then his mouth) “Think it, but don’t say it!”

A. CHRYSLER – “What’s a matter for you? We all crapped out in the big game. It ain’t a secret! Now maybe the odds will turn in our favor again.”

G. MOTORS – “Show some class, Tony! You shouldn’t gloat over Hiro’s failure.”

FORD XVI – “Give the guy a break. Building junk is new to him.”

H. TOYOTA – (Grumbling) “I not belong here.”

A. CHRYSLER – “Oh yes, you do! Make no mistake!”

G. MOTORS – “Mistakes are why we’re all here, pilgrim!”

H. TOYOTA – “And I not build junk!”

A. CHRYSLER – “You tell ‘em, Hiro! They just got their floor mats in a bunch. Heyy!”

L. IACOCCA – “Please! Let’s treat our guest with some respect!”

(All heads bow around the table)

A. CHRYSLER – “Sorry, Toy Man.”

L. IACOCCA – “Hiro is facing his greatest challenge in the marketplace… to restore consumer confidence after a firestorm of negative publicity. Each of us has experienced that kind of situation, and survived…”

G. MOTORS – “Yeah, hang in there, soldier! This too shall pass.”

FORD XVI – “They’ll forget in a decade or two. It worked for American Motors… almost.”

L. IACOCCA – “Can we stay on the subject, gentlemen?”

A. CHRYSLER – “So… reality bit you in the butt, huh? Bada bing! We all know that tune. Put a new body on the old chassis. It’ll keep them guessing!”

H. TOYOTA – (Looking somber) “You sound like bad imitation of Robert DeNiro.”

FORD XVI – (Nodding) “Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.”

L. IACOCCA – “Hiro, I think we could all benefit from hearing about how you’ve handled the gas pedal problem with your vehicles… and the brake issues… why don’t you tell us about that?”

H. TOYOTA – (Reddening with embarrassment) “I apologize to all customers. Meanwhile, my company make repairs!”

G. MOTORS – “Right, pilgrim. You’ve stonewalled the press while trying to get the troops in line. That always worked for me!”

A. CHRYSLER – “Fuggedaboutit! What worked for you was a nice big check from Uncle Sam!”

G. MOTORS – “Shut your trap, grunt! You were in the same soup line!”

FORD XVI – “Not me! I didn’t take a penny of taxpayer money!”

A. CHRYSLER – “Pasta Fazool! You sound like a broken record.”

G. MOTORS – “Ten hut! Give it a rest, Henry.”

FORD XVI – “You’re out of bullets, General. The war is over.”

L. IACOCCA – “Gentlemen, that is enough!!”

(Silence fills the room)

FORD XVI – “Sorry, Lee.”

L. IACOCCA – “That’s more like it. So tell us, Hiro, what changes will you make going forward?”

H. TOYOTA – “No change. We make good cars. This help us learn how to do better.”

G. MOTORS – “That’s the spirit! Don’t mess with the chain of command!”

A. CHRYSLER – “C’mon Toy Man. You gotta whack somebody!”

H. TOYOTA – “No whack. Make better cars.”

FORD XVI – “This is great, Lee. But why didn’t you invite Honda to join the group?”

G. MOTORS – “That’s right, soldier. His tanks have thrown a tread, too!”

L. IACOCCA – “He’s just about gotten a pass from the media. That’s probably why he won’t return my calls.”

H. TOYOTA – “Honor should make him come to table. He bring disgrace to family.”

G. MOTORS – “Disgrace?”

A. CHRYSLER – “Hey, you should know all about disgrace, General. Like the Corvair, the Vega, the Chevette…whoah!”

G. MOTORS – “Don’t get me started, soldier… or we’ll have a talk about the ‘K Car’ and its cousins!”

L. IACOCCA – “Lay off the ‘K Car’ will you?”

FORD XVI – “Can’t we all just get along? My company has a plan. And it’s working.”

H. TOYOTA – “Come down to earth, Henry. You make Pinto in 70’s.”

(Stunned silence overtakes the room)

L. IACOCCA – “Well, Hiro, I must say you surprise me…”

G. MOTORS – “I thought you boys were too disciplined for name calling!”

H. TOYOTA – “The shot was there. I must take it.”

(Laughter echoes from wall to wall)

A. CHRYSLER – “Bada bing! I like this guy!”

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