President’s Corner – Spring 2016


A Presidential Challenge

By Jeff Caldwell

[Editor’s Note: Given the busy schedules most of us live, our President found himself consumed by his business, family priorities and club business. The following is a reprint of Jeff’s column from three years ago. It’s a message we need to remember.—JF]

I recently received a startling e-mail. A colleague forwarded me an article detailing how terrible BMW drivers are! As you can imagine I was not pleased to see the title of the article, but the contents were even more shocking. According to the author, there were two studies done, one in the United States and one in Great Britain, both detailing ill-mannered drivers. Respondents were asked a series of questions regarding behavior of other drivers and what brand of car they drove. By and large the more “luxury” the brand, the more poorly behaved the driver. BMW drivers were at the top of the list. Apparently not only do we drive badly, we fail to stop completely at stop signs and we don’t regularly yield to pedestrians. Really? I am sure many of you are feeling a little dismayed by all of this. I sure am, but I know there is something we can do about it!

As with any study there is a measure of sampling error and I seriously doubt the scientific validity of this work. Scientific process notwithstanding, the “results” certainly make us as BMW owners and drivers look like jerks. I hope by now I have your attention. We are obviously not jerks, nor are we the most poorly behaved drivers on the road. However, this type of press only reinforces the need for us to make a concerted effort to change perceptions of the BMW brand and its drivers.

Several years ago I was talking to a friend who owns a Ferrari and was asking him how he liked the car. His reply surprised me. He told me he loved the car, but that he only drove it when he was having a good day. He said that he never drove it when he was in a bad mood or not feeling well. You can imagine my next question. Why? He said that he understood he was an ambassador for the brand. The car gets a lot of attention and people always want to take photos or chat with him about it. In his mind there is a perception by people that Ferrari drivers are rude. He felt it was his duty to change that perception and be as nice and accommodating to interested folks as he could be. I can see where he was coming from. We are certainly not driving Ferraris, but BMWs are pretty darn nice cars in their own right. I am also not suggesting you only drive when you are having a great day. That would be more than a little extreme. Seriously though…think about what that Ferrari driver was saying.

Herein lies my “presidential challenge”. I ask each of you to make a concerted effort to change the public perception of BMW drivers. Remember every time you get behind the wheel you are an ambassador for BMW. Give another driver some extra room. Yield to that pedestrian next time. Don’t roll the stop sign. I’m not saying that we are all guilty of these things. I’m not even saying that most of us do it. I am just suggesting that perhaps we can all be a bit more aware of our habits when driving. The end result will not only help change how people perceive BMW drivers, but will in the long term make us all safer, more courteous drivers.

Now that I have challenged you to be instruments of change for the perception of BMW drivers, let me leave you with a not entirely unrelated story. After the last board meeting I was walking to my car with chapter secretary Dave Allaway and past President Larry Engel. We came upon an older Buick sedan. Inside were two young women having trouble getting the car started. Of course as “car guys” we jumped in to help and had jumper cables at the ready in no time. Unfortunately, the Buick’s battery was so dead that even Dave’s Suburban couldn’t provide the necessary cranking power to get it started. Enter NJ Chapter board member Ross Karlin with a jump pack and the necessary jolt to get the car going! After all of that (it took longer than you think!), Larry was very proud to tell the young ladies that they were assisted by members of the NJ Chapter BMW club. Remember, he said, we may be BMW guys, but we just love cars.

I hope that you will accept my “challenge” and show everyone the best side of BMW and its drivers!

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