None of us washes our rental cars (antedating 1985)

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jan 20 03:27:20 UTC 2010


Charles Doyle wrote
> From the files of the (forthcoming) Yale Book of Modern Proverbs, we also have this, perhaps antedating the 1985 instance from Peters and Nancy Austin's book:
>
> Nobody washes (We don’t wash) a rental (rented) car.  1985  Tom [Thomas] Peters, "A Necessary Revolution in American Management:  People, People, People" (a printed version of a speech given in June 1984), _Selections from the Second National Labor-Management Conference_, edited by Peter L. Regner (Washington DC:  U. S. Department of Labor), 18:  "'The General [William Creech] . . . said, 'You used to be a specialist expert practicing your trade.  Now you're just responsible for a couple of planes:  why does it make so much difference?'  And the NCO's response, which ought to go down in history:  'General, when's the last time you washed a rental car?'  That is what ownership is all about or not about[?!]."
>
> --Charlie

Wonderful! Thank you for sharing this citation from the forthcoming
Yale Book of Modern Proverbs. You are creating a fantastic reference
work. My electronic search notes contain a folder for this 1985
Conference that has a screen snapshot and the remark "bad snippet" (a
common problem with Google Books). The paper document was hard for me
to obtain.

It is great that you were able to show that the quote is from a 1984 speech.

You might be interested in one irregularity found in my initial
exploration. If you search Google Books for the exact string "General,
when's the last" it returns three hits: the conference "The Second
National Labor-Management Conferenceā€Ž"; and two books by Peters: "In
Search of Excellence" and "A Passion for Excellence". I believe that
"In Search of Excellence" appeared in 1982 and the sequel "A Passion
for Excellence" appeared in 1985.

However, the hit occurs in the 1993 edition of "In Search of
Excellence" and apparently not the 1982 edition. I suspect that the
1993 edition of the book has been revised, or it is an omnibus, or the
GB database is corrupt. Perhaps the book includes an excerpt from the
sequel? Given the thoroughness of YBMP you probably have already
resolved this.

Garson

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