Wednesday, June 30, 2004


About a year and a half ago I was riding back with lunch for my staff in my friend's truck.  The police had closed the road leading to the entrance of my building.  Without really thinking about it, I instructed my friend to drive through a dirt parking lot in four-wheel drive, jump a sidewalk, and be right at the building entrance.  Unfortunately, a cop saw what we were doing and almost gave my friend a 2 point ticket for his creative driving maneuvers.  My only statement to my friend following the incident (yes, he was quite upset with me for my suggestion) was, "That's what I would have done."

There is a great article in this month's Fast Company that was written by Seth Godin that outlines the rules for off-roading at work.  Here's a quick restatement of Seth's rules:

  • If a focus group likes it, don't do it.  My "focus group" (i.e., my friend driving the truck) didn't really think that driving through a dirt lot in four-wheel drive to get around the cops was all that good of an idea, which is exactly why I pushed him to do it.
  • If you're worried about getting fired, do it anyway.  My friend, in fact, prior to the beginning of our off-road adventure, did express concerns about getting a ticket; hey, that's what made it more fun than just driving across a random dirt field.
  • Doing something just a little differently is sure to get you in big trouble.  2 points on your driver's license is big trouble, take my word for it.
  • Your boss will never tell you to do this, because that makes it her responsibility, not yours. Don't wait, just go.  Ok, so I used a little bit of peer pressure in my situation, but my friend made the decision to commit and drive through.  Hell, he hardly even slowed down once he jumped the curb.
  • You'll get lousy mileage, so don't do it often.  Four wheel drive (not all wheel drive3, but true four wheel drive) in any vehicle burns through gas at an astonishing rate; that includes my friend's four wheel drive truck.

So is off-roading risky?  You bet it is!  Broken axles, windshields, headlights; roll-overs; having to be towed out -- all of these things can happen when you off-road, which is why many of the SUVs that you see driving around will never go off-road.  By the way, putting your SUV into four wheel drive when it's snowing is not off-roading.

Similarly, off-roading at work is a risky thing; you have to decide whether you are the kind of person that's willing to risk getting a ticket to achieve the end result.  Furthermore, there are only so many points that you can get on a license before it's revoked, so heed Seth's last bullet above and don't make a habit of doing it.

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