Adjusting to the Times
Bill Gelz hadn’t seen his old high school classmate, Tom Pierpoint, in years. After taking a degree in mechanical engineering, Tom had moved to Detroit to work for one of the large automakers. He hadn’t been back in town for a decade at least although his mother, a widow, still lived up on the hill behind the grammar school that Bill and Tom had both attended a long time ago.
But that was Tom, Bill was sure of that, on this sunny Saturday morning, wandering around the Farmer’s Market, carefully picking out some fruits and vegetables. Bill was happy to see him. Both had been Eagles Scouts together.
“Hi Tom,” Bill yelled from two aisles away. “Great to see you.”
Tom waved back but didn’t seem too interested in a possible reunion and small talk. But Bill was not to be deterred so he made his way over to Tom, who was now investigating the kiwi fruit.
“How’s the car business, Tom? I read in the paper that sales have picked up now that folks are going back to work.”
“Bill, we were doing great and the industry as a whole was doing great until the Supreme Court passed that new law on same-sex marriage. Word is, the whole industry might have to shut down now for a year, maybe more, to remake our cars to complement that law. It won’t be easy. But we can’t be out of step. Times change. Values change. And the car industry has to keep up with the changes in our culture and mores.”
“I don’t understand,” said Bill, "what does that law have to do with the car industry? It just means men can marry men legally and women can marry women legally if that’s their choice. Everyone will still need cars.”
“True enough,” said Tom, stopping with the five kiwi fruit he thought his mother would like. “But the car industry has to adjust to the changing times. It used to be just fine to have a car or truck with just one gas tank that was easy to fill. Now, the auto industry may have to outfit all cars and trucks with two gas tanks. The second one would go in the exhaust pipe. If we want to sell cars to everyone, the auto industry must keep up with the culture of our times.”
Bill thought putting gas in the exhaust pipe for a second and then said, “You don’t mean….”
“Indeed I do,” Tom said. “The Supreme Court has spoken and the auto industry must respond to the needs of all. We cannot discriminate. We must be politically correct. If bakeries must make wedding cakes for everyone, we must make cars for everyone. So I suggest you don’t buy a new car until the new models come out. It might be difficult to sell the older models later on.”
Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.