Atlas Did More Than Shrug

6 August 2003

By nature and personality profiling I’m a rather creative type. Don’t confuse creative with ”artsy.” I have no artistic skills to speak of. For me, creativity entails pursuing things others say ”can’t be done that way.” Often, my response is, ”but what if they could?” In other words, what competitive advantage would you or your business achieve if you actually could find a way to do something that appears unlikely.

Being creative, I also don’t like to be denied something. When the power was out, I just knew there had to be a way to do things I needed to do. At every turn I was frustrated. Even electric generators were good for little more than keeping the freezer food from spoiling. Alternatives for Internet access were completely out.

When a swath of wind approximately 50 miles wide and moving at between 80 and 105 miles per hour crossed the Mississippi River at Memphis moving from west to east, Memphis was devastated. Oak trees that were hundreds of years old split open or uprooted.

The wind downed all of the media outlets. It downed every cellular network for a time. Falling trees and snapping telephone poles wiped out electricity and land phone lines. Those with electric hot water heaters lost any hope of hot water.

Deaths in the area from carbon monoxide poisoning outnumbered deaths from the storm itself. Some people simply couldn’t respect the fact that the exhaust from a generator required that it be outside and well-ventilated.

At night the city was black and quiet. Burglaries jumped by 600% in the first few nights of the outage. Traffic was snarled by closed routes, downed power lines and debris everywhere. 75% of the city’s stoplights sustained damage. For almost a week, every intersection was a four-way stop. Few know how to use a 4-way stop. Many simply disrespect it and jump at the chance to ”get ahead of you.”

None of this got much attention on the national news. All of it was poorly handled by the city government and the leaders and communicators at the public utility.

During this quagmire, and after BellSouth provided some limited phone services, I decided to get an HP notebook PC repaired under warranty. In the next few days, you’ll read a series of entries in this new category called ”The HP Way.” It will chronicle HP’s handling of a simple repair. It will explain why I intend to go to my grave attempting to influence as many people as I can to select alternative products to any and all products manufactured and sold by Hewlett Packard.

If you haven’t read Atlas Shrugged, the title of this entry may not make much sense to you. If you have read Atlas Shrugged, then you know that walking away from the rat race – the rodent regatta which we live in – frequently seems to be the right course of action. I’m not ready to walk away just yet, but having watched a monopolistic utility, a city government and Hewlett Packard fail customers and constituents so miserably, I’m now ready to rededicate myself to warring against lousy service, poor communication and dismal performance.

Stay tuned.

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  1. Alicia Seibert    3 October 2003, 17:03    #

  2. Sahar Christopher    10 December 2003, 23:27    #

  3. louis    8 June 2004, 22:40    #