Besides having a problem with their Deepwater Horizon well spewing oil into the Gulf Stream, BP also seems to have a problem with its executives spewing insensitive statements into the media stream. First, embattled BP CEO Tony Hayward told a disbelieving press “I’d like to get my life back.” Talk about irony. As the words spilled from his lips, did Hayward even consider the eleven workers who were killed on the oil rig, all the people on the shore who make their livelihoods from the beach and the sea or even the pelicans, manatees and other creatures destined for an oily death?
Then BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg set off another public outcry when he told the world he was frustrated because “we care about the small people.” Of course he was quick to apologize for his gaff and his PR team explained that because Svanberg is from Sweden, English isn’t the chairman’s first language. They also tried some convoluted explanation about the British use of the word “small” which apparently doesn’t have the same meaning as it does in the US.
Those of you who know me know that one of my favorite pastimes is playing harmonica with my R&B band at bars, festivals, and parties. Often someone will approach us, tell us they’re musicians too and ask if they can sit in with the band. Before long we’re playing Pink Cadillac or Johnny Be Good or some other rock standard with our guest performer singing the lyrics or playing the guitar lead (no, I don’t lend my harmonicas to strangers in bars).
Most of the time the folks who play with us are good, sometimes they’re great and once in a blue moon they’re superstars (remind me to tell you about the time a heavily disguised Van Morrison sang “Born Under A Bad Sign” with us).
But sometimes our guests are not so good. Which is fine, too, because people who try hard and are gracious still have a good time and make it fun for their friends in the audience. It’s the ones who are can’t play and don’t know it that really toast my onions. They’re the angry sorts who insist that the guitar is out of tune, the drummer missed the beat or the band is playing too fast.
Just as Dean Vernon Wormer told Flounder in Animal House, “…drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son,” incompetent AND arrogant is a bad combination whether you’re sitting in with a bar band or running a multi-national oil company. The only difference is when the incompetent and arrogant performers are done playing their songs they get off the stage. We are going to be stuck with BP for a long time coming.