I tend to run the same route every day. I run through my neighborhood on a two-mile loop, and sometimes add a few more miles by running up to the Transco Tower and back. One evening several months ago, I realized that I had begun to notice a car outside of a certain house every day. It was there when I ran in the morning, and it was there when I ran at night. The car changed. Sometimes it was an SUV. Sometimes a sedan – blue, then maroon. After I realized that I had grown used to seeing a car – with its running lights on and often the motor going as it loitered by the curb outside a beautiful house – I began to pay more attention to it. So one early evening as I jogged up the street, I saw the familiar car. This time, as I drew near, I took a closer look at the house. And I noticed the poles on the roof and the cameras.
For whatever reason, I decided I needed to see it again, but I couldn’t just walk back. Indeed, that would stir the curiosity of the dude in the car, so I turned right, then right again, and right again, and started again down the long street.
The car was in the place where I’d last seen it, and it was just after sunset. As I jogged, a woman and a man were in the drive way and the man turned and I glimpsed him. He smiled and said hello. I said “Hi,” and kept running.
It was only later I had placed his face. I had seen him on television for the last two months. It was a BP executive.
Suddenly I felt so sad. I felt sad that he had to hire someone to watch his home in case the mob showed up with torches and pitchforks.
Jeff Skilling’s house did not have a gate around it. He did not want to live behind a gate; he was not the type. He resisted until the death threats became too frightening, then h erected a tasteful black gate.
On this subject I am painfully ignorant; I simply can not understand the mindset of someone who would hate an executive who is working so hard to create jobs and wealth. In one aspect I think BP’s situation is even more awful than Jeff Skilling’s. Everyone agrees that the BP oil spill was an accident. Nobody inside the company was sitting on his hands. With Enron, there was a mistaken belief that Jeff Skilling had done something criminal.
How awful that we’ve become so suspicious and distrustful of the men who work so hard to civilize us. Without them, we would be nothing. We would have nothing. I am thankful to Jeff Skilling, Tony Howard, and every other misunderstood executive who has made our way of life possible.