A matter of taste

Ed
Ed Smith
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I don't think I'll be buying a Honda anytime soon. That should have the Honda manufacturers of the world shivering and shaking. Some little fellow named Ed Smith in some little town in some little province in some little country won't be buying one of our products. Heavens! The sky is falling in!

I've always thought that Honda makes a good product. They're into practically everything, from egg beaters to earth excavators. Exaggeration? Probably, but they do make a lot of things with motors in them. And Honda has a great reputation for building reliable outboards and cars and everything in between.

I don't think I'll be buying a Honda anytime soon. That should have the Honda manufacturers of the world shivering and shaking. Some little fellow named Ed Smith in some little town in some little province in some little country won't be buying one of our products. Heavens! The sky is falling in!

I've always thought that Honda makes a good product. They're into practically everything, from egg beaters to earth excavators. Exaggeration? Probably, but they do make a lot of things with motors in them. And Honda has a great reputation for building reliable outboards and cars and everything in between.

The good name of the Honda product is not what I want to besmirch. (Great word, besmirch. I don't know how much you use it, but for me I think it's the first time in 25 years of column writing. My vocabulary must be expanding!)

Actually, I wouldn't be buying a Honda anyway. Nothing to do with their basic worth. I'd need three or four of their largest models to accommodate my chair, my equipment, my entourage and myself to get me to the end of the street. One little Civic won't do that.

Perhaps I'm missing the boat here and Honda makes something large enough for me after all. No doubt someone will call and tell me if it's so, after they tell me off for the rest of what I have to say here.

My problem has to do with one of their advertisements. I take umbrage something fierce with this advertisement. It shows a totally callous disregard for the feelings of thousands of people who at this very moment are discouraged and hopeless. It indicates an incredible lack of understanding of how people are responding to the financial realities of the day.

The offending item? I'm not sure if it's locally made or not. I'd like to think it isn't, but even if it was produced in downtown New York, the fact remains that Honda dealers are playing it here. It's No. 1 on their hit parade. It's numero zero on mine.

OK, I'll tell you. The advertisement starts fine, and stays fine until the very last line. Then this pleasant female voice intones this most stupid of all lines.

"Don't you just love recessions?"

You may be shaking your head at this point. Why Eddie, you're thinking, whatever is so terrible about that? Everyone knows it's supposed to be funny.

I suppose I'd find it funny, too, if it were not for my two friends on the East Coast who had most of their life savings wiped out by this funny recession and now have to rely on family and/or social services to look after them when what's left runs out. The job he worked in most of his life didn't offer a pension plan, you see, so they scrimped and saved every last quarter to save for an old age day. Pretty well all gone, now, thanks to this really uproarious recession.

I might see the humour in that advertisement if I didn't know a couple who'd been working hard to save enough money to put their two teenagers partway, at least, through university and who had carefully invested that money so that it would go as far as possible. At the moment, they couldn't afford to send their kids to vacation bible school.

I could spare a chuckle over that line if I didn't know of a couple of young families who had gone to Alberta several years ago for good jobs with good money and decided to make their homes there. They bought nice houses at inflated Alberta prices and nice cars at the same relative cost and settled into the good life. While their hearts might be back in Newfoundland and Labrador, their lives for better or worse were now in Alberta.

Then this laughable old recession hit even oil-rich Alberta, and they both lost their jobs. Lost their lovely home, too, and their nice car. Couldn't afford to keep up the mortgage or the payments, you see, so they had to declare bankruptcy with all the good things that bankruptcy brings.

They must have laughed all the way back to Newfoundland where she's working at Tim Horton's and he's still got nothing.

You still think I'm making a tempest in a coffee cup? One of the major points here is that this isn't a group of friends chatting away and somebody making an idle remark, "Don't you just love recessions!" Everyone knows where that's coming from and that it's intended to be at least ironic and probably sarcastic.

OK, you say, but that's what the advertisement intends to do, too. It does? Gee whiz. I thought the advertisement is claiming that because of the "downturn" in life in general, they are now able to give us cheaper prices on their cars. And isn't that wonderful? And it's all because of this recession - don't you just love it!

No, I do not. You don't hit people where they're hurting most by suggesting that this is all just fun and games. I know the writers of this thing intended that line to be funny. What I don't know is what they have for brains. Of the tens of thousands of people in this province and the millions across the nation and the tens of millions around the world who are suffering, and some of them quite cruelly, because of this recession, I doubt you'd find a whole lot who would think that line is in good taste.

You still don't see the problem? You don't see how it's inappropriate? You don't see how a large firm wanting to do business with the public would want to avoid offending a significant segment of that public by making fun of their misfortunes? OK.

That's why I worry about you.



Ed Smith lives in Springdale. His e-mail address is edsmith@nf.sympatico.ca

Organizations: Honda, Tim Horton's

Geographic location: Alberta, New York, Newfoundland and Labrador East Coast Springdale

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