At its recent 1996 shareholders meeting in Orlando, Fla., Metro 25 Tire's chairman, Duane Rao, urged members to emulate the success of such giant cooperatives as Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc., Land O Lakes Inc. and the Associated Wholesale Grocers. He told dealers about a Michigan teacher who begins each new school year by asking students to write down all the things they're not able to do using the words ``I can't,'' such as: ``I can't do 20 pushups,'' or ``I can't do well in algebra.''
All these ``I can'ts'' are then placed in a carton, carried to the farthest point on school property and buried. The teacher then eulogizes:
``Friends, we're gathered here today to honor the memory of `I can't.' While he was with us, he touched the lives of everyone-and some more than others. His name was spoken in every school and business. . . `I can't' is survived by his brother and sister-`I can' and `I will.'
``May `I can't' rest in peace. And may everyone present pick up their lives and move forward in his absence. Amen.''
Students lucky enough to be part of the class never forget that day, Mr. Rao said. It remains in their minds and hearts for the rest of their lives.
On rare occasions when someone forgets, the teacher simply points to the large drawing of a tombstone in the classroom. Reminded that ``I can't'' is dead, the student rephrases his or her statement.
``I can't is a useless phrase,'' Mr. Rao advised his dealer audience. ``Let's bury those words forever.''
(Reminds us of those immortal words millions utter each morning: ``I can get up and go to work today.'' Or is it, I should?)
Cruising the Web
The immensely popular and opinionated ``Click and Clack,'' alias Tom and Ray Magliozzi, car-repair raconteurs and hosts of National Public Radio's ``Car Talk,'' have been caught in the World Wide Web.
Katz Millennium Marketing, named the exclusive advertising sales rep for the Tappet Brothers' new Web site-CARTALK.COM (http://cartalk.com)-believes it will be extremely popular ``not only with hard-core auto buffs,'' the agency said, ``but also with less technically oriented car owners'' who've grown to appreciate the Magliozzis' offbeat humor and approach to solving car problems.
``The Web site is a great way for us to communicate with the six listeners, mostly relatives, of our radio show,'' joked Tom, the older and, he says, smarter of the two brothers. ``And if Katz Millennium doesn't make us rich by selling ads, they're dead meat.''
Among the things Net surfers can do: communicate directly with Tom and Ray; of course buy Car Talk merchandise like T-shirts which, they point out, double as oil rags; scan car classifieds, complete with photos, for used-vehicle values; find out the answers to the radio show's weekly ``Puzzler''; and print a free report on thousands of vehicles for information before making a purchase.
You can even place a ``You are what you drive'' personal ad-a monitored listing containing stuff like ``A 31-year-old Acura Integra-driving male seeks a 24- to 35-year-old female driving a foreign sports car.''
With all their ventures, it's amazing the Magliozzis find time to actually work on cars in their Boston-area service shop.
The pause that refreshes
Some old customs are hard to eliminate.
Thirty-five years ago, on April 12 to be exact, 27-year-old Soviet Air Force Lieutenant Yuri Gagarin, with the words ``Poyekhali!'' (``Let's Go!'') rocketed away from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to become the first human in space. He was aloft for just 108 minutes in a 5-ton spherical capsule, yet his achievement still is viewed as a milestone that most assuredly catapulted Russia and the U.S. into the space race.
Mr. Gagarin died in 1968 when the training aircraft he was flying crashed.
One ritual that dates back to Comrade Gagarin is observed to this day. According to United Press International, on the way to the launch pad the jovial Mr. Gagarin always stopped and got down to urinate on the tire of his bus before blasting off. This practice is still followed before launches by every crew at Baikonur.
More on women in biz
As a postscript to the special issue TIRE BUSINESS recently published on women in the tire business, we repeat a couple pithy quotes culled by Diane Evans, who writes a business column for the Akron Beacon Journal.
On women in business, civil engineer and consultant Laurie Zuckerman noted: ``I think men and women are equally capable of running a business. But men are more likely to think they are.''
Barbara Greavu, a humorist, had this take on the life of working women: ``We're really taking on the world. We've got to slow down. We're killing ourselves. We put so much energy into worrying about things we have no control over. Let it go.
``Sometimes we place too much importance on our jobs. I've never heard anyone dying say, `God, I wish I had spent more time at the office.' ''
Clean water, not cars
The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) newsletter recently ran this item under the headline, ``Can You Believe?'' (Sadly, yes we can.)
A group of San Diego high schoolers reportedly were told they would have to shut down their school's fundraising car wash to comply with local Clean Water Act regulations. San Diego's National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Program Administration (what a mouthful) notified the local school superintendent that car wash water, even if it does not contain soaps or detergents, may not be allowed to drain into inlets, parking lot drains or other entrance points to storm drain systems.
Calling it a ``classic case of regulatory over-reaching,'' (or is it water on the brain?) city councilman Scott Harvey protested the edict. And the NPDES did capitulate, determining that most student car washes qualify for exemptions.
Brake like the wind
Big news from Temecula, Calif.: The city council there changed the wording of the local ``traction ordinance'' so it will allow police to cite drivers of front-wheel-drive vehicles who break traction.
For the uninitiated, that's commonly known as ``burning rubber'' or ``laying down a patch'' with their tires. The current ordinance only applied to rear-wheel-drive vehicles.
Considering recent events in California, the cops may put offenders in traction.