Ski rack picThe motor industry is full of good stories and although many of them grow in the telling most are least based on truth – you couldn’t make this stuff up. So I tend to think this one happened largely as it is told here. But even if it’s a pack of lies it’s so delicious that you deeply wish it to be true.

One day many years ago when computers were a black art and apples were things that kept doctors away a giant car company directed its subsidiary in Manila to pull its computer system in line with the rest of the world network so that it could swap data with the rest of the company’s subsidiaries. And it turned out that the job would require a great deal of software to be written specially.

Now there was only one person with that sort of expertise in that city and they went to him with the job. He told them it would take 18 months plus another six to iron the bugs out, but he was fed up with consulting and wanted to go on the payroll full time. He assured them there would be lots more work for him when this job was done. So they made him a full time employee.

Two years later, after he had the system up and running and all the bugs ironed out they, being the subsidiary of a big, caring, sharing multinational, fired him.

And a funny thing happened when his name was taken off the payroll. The computer placed an order with one of the multinational’s Scandinavian subsidiaries for 10,000 ski racks. The folk in Manila knew nothing about it until a ship berthed and unloaded 10,000 ski racks for them. Just a couple of degrees north of the equator.

The Manila people hurriedly contacted the Scandinavians and meekly asked them to take their ski racks back. And the Scandinavians, being a subsidiary of this big, caring, sharing multinational said: “You own ‘em baby, they’re yours.”

And so the Manila folk did the only thing they could do. They set about selling ski racks in Manila. They even appointed a manager to the job. He sought out expert help and, with various expensive modifications he unloaded them on water ski clubs, kayakers, campers, tradesmen and adventurers. He even sold a few to poseurs who wanted their neighbours and friends to think they took ski holidays somewhere exotic.

It took a couple of years, but with extraordinary commitment he finally got down to his last ski rack and his bosses were delighted. So delighted they scheduled a little party to farewell the last ski rack from the warehouse. Everyone was there. Some of them wore ski gear.

And then amid all the champagne and canapés another funny thing happened. As the last ski rack disappeared from the computer’s inventory an electronic flag went up and the little microchips did exactly as they had been programmed to do. They ordered another 10,000 ski racks.