Chapter 2. Lotus Land

I walked out past airport security, picked up my rental car, and got on to Hwy 94. To the west lay the lovely town of Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan, where I'd done my graduate degree. Ann Arbor is an oasis of prosperity, the hub of a network of high technology, health care, and research organizations. I warmly remember its tree-lined streets, splendid campus buildings, and cute coeds.

But I was heading east, toward Taylor City and the epicenter of Michigan's economic meltdown. After a short drive I saw the familiar sign: Taylor City Next Five Exits. I pulled off at Lotus Avenue and headed toward the Taylor World Headquarters, an imposing glass-and-chrome building emblazoned with our famous logo. I drove past the old Design Centre and the test track, the Automotive Hall of Fame, and the old Taylor farm, now a museum. On the surface, things looked fine. In fact, many of our buildings were empty.

I parked and walked over to the executive building. We call it Lotus Land; fat salaries and bonuses are its addictive fruit. If there were Oscars for self-absorption, we'd own the Academy Awards. In their blogs, our executives love talking about themselves. But you rarely see the word customer.

Security buzzed me through impressive glass doors and invited me to sit down while they contacted Brenda Davies, Rachel's executive assistant. After a few minutes they buzzed me through the next set of doors and directed me to the executive elevators. Brenda was waiting ...

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