I should preface this all by saying that I’ve yet to be able to absolutely confirm that this absurd email is real, though the original poster insists that it is. Fundamentally, it’s just a boring email from an HR department to an employee, but the content of the email is deeply insulting, reflecting the worst aspects of modern life, socioeconomic realities, culture, and perhaps even capitalism itself. And, of course, like all things that really matter, it’s about a car.
Specifically, it’s apparently about a 2005 Toyota Camry, though the car make and model itself isn’t actually named in the email. The car’s identity is clarified in what appears to be the original posting place of the email, on Reddit’s r/trashy forum, by a user named Dorf-1, posted less than a day ago.
The email is presented as what looks like a photo of the printed email, with the names of the sender, receiver, and company marked out. Here’s the image:
...and, to make it easier to read, here’s the full text:
Sent: Tuesday, January 21, 2020 12:11 PM
Subject: Personal matter
As you may know many companies still use credit checks as part of their hiring process. This is to ensure that the employee can be trusted to make sound financial decisions, has the maturity to manage his/her own financial affairs, and to show signs of financial distress that might indicate risk of theft or fraud. While we do not conduct these checks at this time the gist of the check is valid to us.
We have noticed for some time the condition of your vehicle and wanted to discuss the matter with you. We will follow up this email with a personal meeting but wanted to document the discussion beforehand.
Since of course your annual salary is known to us and a newer and more appropriate looking vehicle should be within your financial reach, it is our concern that perhaps you are having a difficult time financially. Frankly the concern is that if you cannot afford a newer vehicle then either you may be susceptible to fraud or that you are not responsible for the position you maintain. To be even more frank, it just looks bad.
Please let us know if there is a reason that you have not upgraded your vehicle before now. If it is a financial matter then we will need to know the details of the problems you are having. Perhaps it is as simple that you did not know the concern you are raising. Otherwise please address this situation as quickly as possible. We will be happy to refer you to dealerships who we have worked with in the past.
Vice President, Human Resource Management
Vice President, Finance and Administration
Again, this could be a total fake, made up just to elicit responses and articles just like this one. I have reached out to the original poster, and have yet to hear back, so, of course it’s possible this has all been fabricated.
Dorf-1, of course, maintains it’s true and he’s been in direct contact with the Camry-cruisin’ employee who received the email:
“It’s legit. I personally saw the email on his screen, and he clicked the from name to show the email address under it. Knowing those two VPs, I totally believe it.”
I also received a message from Dorf-1, who stated they would be happy to prove it’s real, but were concerned about getting exposed. If I’m able to confirm with actual proof that I can personally verify, I’ll update this story.
The thing is, though, after seeing this posted and re-posted all over the place, in car-centric sites and otherwise, I’m not sure if whether or not this email is real or not is what matters. What’s important to note here is the reaction it’s generated, which speaks volumes about our relationship with our cars.
The reaction to this email is similar to the reaction we’ve seen when homeowners’ associations take issue with someone’s project car, only in this case the car in question is almost comically normal and boring, which makes this relative to groups of people far beyond gearheads.
The reaction has been overwhelmingly negative, because what this email—real or not—reveals is that people’s identities are incredibly invested in their cars, even when, ironically, that identity is that they don’t seem to care about cars.
People chafe at the idea of anyone telling them what they need to drive, especially an authority figure. People will accept a company dress code, but there’s a line that’s crossed when attempts are made to police what one drives to work, and the fact that it’s coming up about a car as boring as a faded Camry just reveals the power of this idea.
Our cars are our choice. If that choice is to not give in to the status game and drive a practical but homely car, then that’s as valid a choice as someone who chooses to drive a TVR Tasmin to work. There’s something about our choice of personal transportation that is still our own—as long as we’re not hurting anyone else—and this whole business with this email has demonstrated that incredibly well.
And that goes whether it’s real, or some bizarre hoax.
For now, though, what the hell, let’s give the benefit of the doubt and enjoy that strangely satisfying rush of righteous indignation, let the rage flow through us, as our Sith masters instruct us to do, anyway. Because this is a remarkably rage-inducing email, and even if it proves to be fake, I think the outcry from so many, in all the places this thing has been reposted, is interesting.
The OP gives a bit of context about the car and the employee as well:
So, this isn’t a case where fussy clients are being affronted by the baseness of the employee’s car. That humble, worn old Camry is just shuttling his ass to and from work, hiding in a garage in between.
It’s all the assumptions that happen in the email that make it so awful. The implication that holding onto an aging but perfectly serviceable car is somehow suspect, and suggests the employee may be mismanaging their money or a victim of fraud.
The two VPs that it took to compose and send this missive seem to be entirely unaware that a person may have any number of reasons why they may choose not to “upgrade” their vehicle: they may simply not care, they may have some affection for the car they have, they may be saving money or putting it towards some other purpose, really, there’s so many reasons why.
The suggestion that not driving a newer car somehow suggests financial irresponsibility is insipid as well, since, really, holding on to a paid-off car that works fine makes vastly more economic sense than paying lots of money every month for a new car that accomplishes the same job.
What’s especially remarkable about this email is how well it enrages both people who couldn’t tell a Toyota from a toenail and genuine hardcore gearheads, who chafe at the very idea that anyone should tell you what to drive.
The recipient of this email is possibly in the former camp, but car lovers realize that if a company decides to start policing older Camrys, what are they going to say about an employee who drives the track-ready Miata to work or a vintage, mid-restoration Beetle, or any number of other not-the-latest-SUV that they may choose to drive?
Everything about this email is revolting. The suggestion of enforced conformity, the mindless adherence to idiotic concepts of socioeconomic status and wealth displays, the inherent fear and distrust of people who may be less financially sound, the unsolicited advice, a company trying to police someone’s private life, this whole thing is just a colossal shit cocktail with a turd on a toothpick as a garnish.
The sheer hideous perfection of the thing is perhaps why so many feel it’s fake—could a company’s HR department be so shockingly terrible? Could a viable company actually have such awful, reductive, wrongheaded ideas like this?
Sadly, that may be the most believable part of this whole thing.