Merry Christmas Detroit!

After a trying couple of months, everything finally fell into place. Even though Congress was hell bent on making sure the auto bailout did not go through, the Midwesterners persevered. Everyone was encouraged to email their senators and appeal to the President. There were emails going out directly to the President asking him to make it all better – after all he has the power.

It was the talk of the town – be it a home, an office, school or business. What kind of a Christmas will Detroit have? Will Bush sign and save the auto industry?

Yes he did. Mr.President did sign and awarded 17.4 billion to the auto industry. We would like to think that it was the power of the people that made it happen. Or maybe it would be his most significant decision before he left office. Something people would remember him for, in spite of all the other problems we had to face while he was in office. Whatever be the motive – Thank you Mr. President.

Change is inevitable. This was a major reality check for the whole country. Now it is up to Detroit to take what was handed out and make something better out of it. Be competitive, make better quality cars, be proud of what you make and let it show – after all we have been in the business for almost a 100 years.

Merry Christmas Detroit!

A Powerful Duty

For the first time as a citizen of the United States I was called upon to do my civic duty – serve on a jury. Interesting to note that most people do not like to serve on a jury and will make up excuses. Having never served on one before, I was curious. The wait is long and boring. You are encouraged to bring a book to read since you cannot take your phone if it is a camera phone – forces you to either read, write or observe human nature.

It was already 3 pm. Having been at the court house since 8:30 am, I was convinced that I would not be called upon. Court ends at 5 pm. I was proved wrong when my number was called at 3pm along with 24 other individuals. I learnt that it depends on if it is a criminal case, they pick 12 jurors or if it is a civil case, they pick 6 or 7 jurors. The lawyers have the pick of who they would like to be in the jury box. I am presuming that they look for a certain profile that will help their case – be it a jury that will think rationally or emotionally.

This was a civil case – medical malpractice. When the clerk call the juror to the jury box, they ask you all kinds of questions that will eliminate any doubt that you can look at the facts of the case without any prejudice. They of course ask your name, profession, family, and past employment history and if there are any experiences or people you many know that may impact you to have a bias. That did eliminate quite a few of the jurors. But finally they settled on the seven that was finally chosen.

It was interesting to note that the diversity in the seven jurors – two women – one white, one ethnic, five men – four white, one African American. The ages of all the jurors ranged from 20′s to 60′s. The experience was a good one – a memorable one for all of us especially the five of the seven who were on a jury for the first time. Also interesting to note that of the seven – three of us were naturalized citizens – all from different countries – the UK, Canada and India.

While on a jury you are not allowed to discuss the case in any shape or form with anyone until it is over. A serious responsibility, if violated is considered in contempt of court and can be punished by fine and/or imprisonment. I found myself catching myself on various occasions as I discussed different topics with my fellow jurors. I had to tell my kids too that they could not play 20 questions to appease their curiosity and nodding my head was just as wrong as telling them.

The interactions between us jurors led us to discussions on various topics including the state of the economy and the bailout for the Big 3. We all agreed that the rest of the country had absolutely no clue how to run an automotive company and we in Detroit feel quite passionately about our cars. If they all drove American cars maybe they would not be so apathetic. As we spent more time with the case, our personalities showed – the sports enthusiast, the mom – who made sure we had candy, group leader – who took all the notes.

As we came to the last day we were ready for the case to be over even though we all loved hearing ‘All rise for the Jury’ every time we entered the court room. We needed to go back to our regular lives. We made a unanimous decision to bring in lunch so that we could save time and would do our very best to come to a decision by 5pm. The final witness was examined and cross examined and the lawyers made their closing arguments and then the judge gave is our instructions. At 4pm we were sequestered in the jury room for deliberations.

I did not think about it then, but as I think about it now – I realize that women think emotionally. As we selected our foreperson and went around the table making our decision – we were 4 and 3. We would like to come to a unanimous decision but by law we only need 6 of the 7. We went around the table explaining why we chose our stand – based on our belief and the evidence that was presented. As each person gave their point of view – the focus were on the 3 that were still undecided. As each point was discussed and deliberated the gap closed – it was now 5 and 2. There were more discussions – interesting point to note that we did not need to look at any evidence. We had seen it so many times it was committed to memory. It is now 4:45 and it is now 6 and 1. Even though there was an option to go ahead the team wanted a unanimous decision. The discussion centered around how nurses are a passionate lot who are patient advocates and care for their patients. It is now 4:55 and the final vote is taken – it is Unanimous! Phew.

The decision was presented before the court and it was all over. At the end we had made new friends, had a better understanding of all that goes on the hospital floor, had a renewed respect for nurses and learnt a whole lot of medical terms. We had all just played a very important role in doing our civic duty.

I walked to the parking lot to get into my car and noticed the other juror knocking on my window. His battery died and needed a jump start. I did not have one but the court clerk who was parked next to me did. As he got his Lexus up and running – I said to him softly – “Now if you had an American car you probably would not have had a problem.’

At the end of it all – I felt good – did my civic duty and an American car saved the day.

Do you know how to build a car?

Do you know how to build a car? I don’t think so. So why don’t you leave that to the experts in Detroit. They have been doing it for a 100 years.

I never realized how passionate I would be about the auto industry until I saw the reaction of the rest of the country and the Congress. As we watched the congressional hearings I cringed in embarrassment as the senators lashed out at the Big 3 CEO’s. I could feel the humiliation of every auto industry worker when the CEO’s were referred to as beggars with tin cups arriving in personal jets. That was dumb – it did not really help their case.

However does anyone know how to build a car? Before that, I would like to ask – how many of those senators and congressmen drive American cars? Did you notice that while Obama’s entourage was driving American, Senator McCain was driving a Toyota? All those senators who lashed out at the Big 3 were from southern states where Toyota and Honda have their plants. Everyone seems to be gung ho on allowing the Big 3 to go bankrupt.

Wake up people! You have already allowed all your manufacturing to be done by China or outside the US. Are you willing to become an impotent nation that has no manufacturing of their own? Have you forgotten or did you never learn of the industrial revolution and the role of Henry Ford in being instrumental in making this nation as a developed nation?

Now I am not saying that everything what they have done so far is right and there are definitely changes that need to be made – but in this present economy when the whole world’s fate is dependent on how the US handles it – don’t you think that we should be patriotic and support one our own so that we can come back as a leader?

Nobody seemed to have any trouble when the big banks failed and the government shoved billions of dollars down their throat, whether they wanted it or not. Hmm, maybe the senators didn’t want their stocks to lose any value or being greedy is okay as long as it does not affect my portfolio. Hypocrisy at its ultimate, don’t you think?

Its official

I finally succumbed and created a blogspot. Too many things happening around me and too many thoughts in my head to keep quiet.

I have this picture of my head and thoughts and words just pouring out from every orifice cause it cannot be contained within. The economy, the reaction of the rest of the world against the auto industry, the Mumbai attacks, my take on life, where I need to go from here, the reactions of people, my goal of writing just to name a few.

So look here to read about my musings as I take on the world and all its problems and how it affects me.