Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Business Card

My business card while assigned to the Arkansas Division.
My first duty station with UDOT was with the South Carolina Division,
with headquarters in Columbia, SC. I was in the Arkansas Division
at the time of my retirement.

Looking Back – The Business Card

By J. Bryan Wasson

The business card has become so much a part of the operations of nearly all business and governmental institutions that is difficult to consider day to day business without them. Such cards under the name of, “calling cards” were used as far back as the 1800s.

All U.S. Government agencies use them. The U.S. Department of Transportation is made up of a number of operating administrations  such as the Federal Highway Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, The Federal Aviation Administration, The Federal Railroad Administration, etc. All business cards for the U.S. Department are of the same basic design. The U.S. Dept. of Transportation logo known as a Triscallion is in the upper left hand corner with one exception, the Federal Aviation Administration which uses its own logo that predates the establishment of the U.S. DOT. (Note: During my tenure with U.S. DOT, there was another exception, the U.S. Coast Guard which also predated the establishment of the U.S. DOT and has its own logo. The U.S. Coast Guard is now under The Department of Homeland Security and at that time was under the Treasury Department.) The only thing different about the cards was the name of the individual, the operating administration, the office address and phone number as well as job title or position. The job title on my own business card was Special Agent.

All Federal Agencies Have an Inspector General (IG). In cop talk that is cop talk for Internal Affairs. The Office of the IG for the U.S. Department of Transportation also had other functions including the investigation of fraud related to construction on Interstate Highways and other Federal Aid Highways.

I had conducted a couple of investigations related to an Arkansas motor carrier. For some reason the office of the IG had become interested in that same motor carrier. I don’t know if their investigation related to my investigations of that motor carrier or something else related to that specific motor carrier.

A Special Agent from the office of the IG showed up in our office and asked for all files related to that specific motor carrier. He introduced himself and gave me his business card and I stuck it in my pocket. Remember, the job title on his business card was Special Agent, the same as that on my own business cards. There was a vacant cubical directly across from my cubical that we always used to set up folks from other offices who needed a temporary place to work while in the Arkansas Division Office. This guy from the IG office was set up in that cubical. From that location he could see and hear everything I did.

This guy had less than zero personality. One day, I answered my phone on a routine matter that had absolutely nothing to do with his investigation. He could only hear my end of the conversation. When I hung up the phone, he proceeded to tell me that I did not handle that phone call properly and that that was not what he would have said. He should not have been eavesdropping and it was none of his business. It sort of raised my hackles.

When I changed shirts, I always transferred the contents of my shirt pocket to the other shirt. His business card therefore remained in my shirt pocket for quiet some time.

A few weeks later, I encountered another person who was very unhappy about something. This guy had a bad attitude and would not have been happy if he had been about to be hung with a brand new rope. At the conclusion of our conversation, I remembered the business card that I had in my shirt pocket from the other very unpleasant guy from the office of the IG. In my mind, I thought that these two very unpleasant guys might just hit it off great. I reached in my pocket and handed the man the business card of the Special Agent from the office of the IG. I said, “Give me a call if I can assist you with anything.” That was the last I ever heard from either of these two tormented souls.

09-04, JBW