Sunday, August 5, 2012

Your brand just gave me the finger

I admit it: I'm prone to road rage. If another driver cuts me off, or tailgates me, etc., I get mad. I curse. I give them a dirty look. And if I'm in a particularly foul mood I might even treat them to a one-finger salute.

Three things keep me in check: one, the fear that the other driver is even more unhinged than I am. Two, if my kids are in the car, and I'm trying to set a good example. (I'm also more cognizant of the lunatic factor when carrying such precious cargo.) And three, the parking pass that dangles from my rearview mirror, clearly identifying my employer.

Just because you're not on the clock doesn't mean you're not representing your employer. I thought of this today when I noticed the car behind me driving recklessly, and when it passed me I saw that the car bore the name of a restaurant and catering company.

Now, that doesn't mean I won't ever eat there, but my esteem for the company slipped just a notch. Do they hire reckless employees, or just employees who don't care about their employer's image?

It's the same minefield we enter every time we post a controversial opinion on Facebook or Twitter, or make a provocative statement. (Which I do from time to time.) I'm quick to note these opinions are mine and solely mine, but readers may link these opinions to my employer whether I want them to or not -- maybe without them even being consciously aware of it.

Which isn't to say that we have to limit our online lives to pictures of our pets and kids. But every once in a while we need to remind ourselves that we never know who might be watching, and maybe we want to ease up on the gas pedal just a little bit.

That's not just a metaphor. Slow the hell down, would you?

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