It’s just before 6:00AM, and this morning I woke up, during a dream. Like most people, waking from a dream can leave me with vivid memories of it, for a short while… then it fades away. I’ll admit it seems strange writing about a dream in “My Electric Vehicle Journey,” but this one has so much to do with the journey that I think it fits, and writing about it will help me move it into my long-term memory. I need to remember this.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may want to skip past my history…
First, a little background: Leasing a plug-in vehicle changed the course of my life. Actually, it goes back farther than that. A car accident changed the course of my life. I was just like everyone else that had never owned a plug-in vehicle. I had not given EVs much thought and considered them something interesting that would come along as a viable option in another decade or so. When the Tesla Roadster hit the streets, with a price tag of over $100,000, I lusted over it but knew I’d never own one. It cemented in my mind the impression that affordable electric cars were far enough in the future that I didn’t need to spend much time thinking (or learning) about them.
Back in the mid-70’s, I started my career in outfield manufacturing, working the night shift in a factory and attending college during the day. I started as a drill press operator and progressed to CNC machine operator, CNC programmer and eventually CAD/CAM specialist. The oilfield economy collapsed in the early 1980’s bringing with it, layoffs, high unemployment, a real estate bubble burst (in Houston anyway). I moved to the Dallas / Fort Worth area to find work in a new manufacturing industry and have lived there ever since. Within a few years of moving to DFW, I came to the attention of a recruiter in the CAD/CAM software sales industry and transitioned from using CAD/CAM software to selling it, as the technical person on a sales team. I absolutely LOVED that time. I was highly valued for my real-world experience, using the software in industry and my ability to speak in front of an audience. I won a prestigious company award. My income tripled in a relatively short time. I traveled all over the U.S. plying my new trade. After years of working on a manufacturing shop floor, wearing safety shoes, jeans and t-shirts, smelling of cutting fluids and hearing the whine of CNC machines all day, I was now wearing suits, flying around the country and helping companies working on advanced designs and manufacturing processes. I was in heaven! I was a jet-setter! Everyone I worked with said I should be in sales, not just the technical person on the sales team. I demurred, preferring to learn the intricacies of software rather than the intricacies of the forms of persuasion.
Then 9/11 happened.
The economy went into a recession. The company I was working for, at the time, laid off all their field engineers but one. The sole remaining engineer was working with our largest client at the time (believe it or not, a large U.S. automobile manufacturer!). Once again, I was laid off and wondering where my life was headed next. (and getting a little scared…)
As it turned out, one of my clients had always wanted me to work for his company and found out I was unemployed. He asked me to come to his factory for a tour. It was a new industry for me, aerospace manufacturing, and I would be going back into being an end-user of CAD/CAM software (albeit as a manager) instead of helping sell it. I spent five years there, working very long hours and earning very high compensation but was not happy.
An opportunity to work for Apple as a Business Manager presented itself and I jumped at it. I had never owned a Windows-based computer although I had used UNIX- and Windows-based machines my entire career. As a Business Manager, I was tasked with building a team in my Apple Store that specialized in selling to businesses. The pay was less than half what I had been making, but it was an opportunity to work for a company I idolized. I was there about 2 1/2 years, when the car accident happened.
My car accident happened at a time when I had no funds set aside for my next vehicle. I thought I’d be driving it for another two to three years before getting my next vehicle. After an exhaustive search, I ended up with my current (no pun intended) vehicle, the Chevy Volt.
Much to the annoyance of my friends, I couldn’t stop talking about it, so I started this blog. I had always considered myself an environmentalist. When we hiked in the National Parks, if we came upon a discarded can or plastic bag, we’d pack it back out. We had been a customer of Green Mountain Energy for twelve years, so that we could use wind-generated electricity.
However, owning the Volt made me much more aware of environmental issues. Global climate change became a real, urgent threat to everyone I cared about. I wanted to make a difference, so I ended up working in sales at Green Mountain Energy. I was a complete flop! Almost no one I spoke with cared about the environment. Global climate change was seen as a liberal conspiracy. Even if I could save people money, they felt it was just too much of a hassle to change.
Then National Plug-in Day came along and my life took another major turn. I went to work in car sales at the number one Chevrolet dealership in the U.S. as an EVangelist (Volt sales specialist). It’s been challenging, exciting, grueling and enlightening. I had (and still have) much to learn, but that’s one of the things I need, in my career, to keep me happy. I’ve been fortunate to work with some of the nicest, funniest and helpful people I have ever met. In my eleventh month, the month that just ended, I earned more in a single month than I have ever made before. Right now I am exhausted, happy and eagerly looking forward to the future of my career.
For those skipping my history, you’ll pick up here…
The very night that completes the best month I’ve ever experienced in my career, I have this dream:
I was dressed in a suit, walking toward a very nice office building. The courtyard in front of the building had gardens and statuary. There were wide steps leading up to a glass entrance. I was there for a job interview. In fact, my manager and a manager from the truck sales department of my dealership had set up the interview for me.
The receptionist welcomed me and knew of my appointment. A very professionally dressed woman emerged from a nearby elevator and welcomed me. She was the person who would be leading the team that was interviewing me. We entered the elevator and proceeded to the interview.
The office space was very expansive and we sat down with a small group and began the formal interview. Everyone seemed happy to meet me and the interview process seemed more like a nice group conversation. It seemed to be a foregone conclusion that the position would be offered to me and that I would accept it.
As we discussed my duties (I was going to be back in the design software field, as an end-user) and my schedule, I detailed my schedule at the dealership. Apparently, I saw the new job as an augmentation to my job at the dealership but the interviewers saw it as a replacement for my job in auto sales. Although the offices were very plush and I loved the feel of the suit on me and looked forward to dressing as I had earlier in my career, I did not want this job to replace my career at the dealership.
I asked about compensation but never seemed to get a straight answer. As the interview concluded, the woman who had led me to the interview was leading me back to the elevator. She entered a large tiled opening, and as I followed, I realized we were heading through the women’s restroom and showers (I’m not making this stuff up!). It was a large facility, sort of like a restroom in a large airport, where a person walks in through an entrance, proceeds through the restroom, and leaves through a different exit. I could hear women’s voices, echoing off the tiled walls ahead. In a panic, I did an about-face and left through the opening through which I had entered.
Then I woke up.
Upon awakening, I realized fully, how much I like what I am doing now. I have customers that have become friends, but I’ve always had that happen wherever I have been in customer-facing roles. I have coworkers and managers (mostly) who are generous in their help, knowledge and encouragement. I don’t always get to sell Volts, but selling a Corvette Stingray can be fun too. I help people find or build the perfect vehicle for their needs/circumstances. Sometimes I am able to help a person out of a bad spot when they thought there was no way possible. I love what I do and I think my dreaming self wanted to make sure my waking self knew it as well.