Sunday, January 21, 2007


Bumpercars on Salmon: Now for the rest of the story

By now, everyone here has seen or heard about the guy in the SUV who played bumper cars on SW Salmon next to the MAC club; the Youtube
video clip
is here if you haven't.

Friday, the Oregonian identified the driver was Broughton Bishop, aged 79, two facts that managed to get further distribution. Perhaps once everyone saw how old he was, they decided this was another case of someone too old to drive, and lost interest. Or perhaps it was the aw-shucks attitude that came across in the story. Despite the incident, he declined an ambulance ride, and still made it "to the office at Pendleton Woolen Mills, his family's business".

"I think he's just that kind of person," his wife Mary was quoted.

In any case, I'm surprised that I seem to be the only person to have noticed those ten words I quoted from the article: he was heading "to the office at Pendleton Woolen Mills, his family's business". A bit of Google-fu confirmed what I read between the lines: This states that he is President and CEO of Pendleton, although the company website lists him as only another Vice President. ("Vice president" is one of those titles that means absolutely nothing: a VP can either be the second most powerful executive in a corporation, or a powerless drone that for one reason or another they can't fire.)

His old prep school, Andover, helps to clear up the confusion: their profile of Broughton "Brot" Bishop dated 1999 lists him as President and CEO: obviously he stepped down a few years ago (for reasons that I haven't found), and his duties are primarily to offer advice and tackle special projects. In other words, the only person who thought he needed to be at work that day was Broughton Bishop.

The Oregonian article seems to be the last bit of news about this incident. On one hand, I'm glad because while the video clip was amazing the first dozen times I saw it, it hasn't been more than a waste of air time for the last few hundred times KGW aired it. But on the other hand I'm left with some questions, and I wonder if they'll be answered.

1. Now that we have a person to go with this video, why did all of the media drop the story like it was yesterday's news from some distant part of the world? Could they be afraid of offending the owners of the Pendleton Woolen Mills?

2. Along these lines, what if the reason that Bishop's status as a retired CEO of a local company hasn't been made more of is that none of the people who run the television and newspapers thought it was newsworthy? I'm not sure which I find more disquieting: that the local media is too craven to risk offending a local business, or that they are so poorly informed about local issues?

4. In this day, with modern technology, why hasn't anyone asked why he didn't just stay home? Would his company fall apart if he wasn't at his desk that day? And if he needed to be available, many employees telecommute using a laptop and the Internet; he had no reason to drive to work. Doesn't his house have a phone? If his help was needed for any immediate decision, he was in contact.

5. When this story falls from the public awareness, what will happen about all of the damage his SUV did? For many people, a car is their biggest investment, and they depend on it to get to work, buy food, and so forth. If the damage is fixable, & if the insurance company doesn't write it off as a total loss at their usual cheap assessment rates, these folks are going to need a rental as long as the car is in the shop -- which could be a couple of days, or a couple of weeks. Will Bishop -- or his insurance company -- use this as an opportunity to duck responsibility for the owners' losses?


Tuesday morning update: Someone from KGW visited my blog this morning. Hello!

I loved this article, and I'm really enjoy all the entries on the front page. Very informative, very interesting, very thought provoking. Thank you.
Stacy, thank you for posting!

I heard from a reliable source that Mr Bishop had made sure that his employees knew they were expected to make it into work on that day. Karma.
It might be Karma, but who's collecting it: Bishop or the owners of those cars?

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