Auto Blog

The worst day of Rick Wagoner's life

What does it feel like to be asked by the leader of the free world to step down from the most prestigious position in the U.S. auto industry after your leadership has left your company in shambles? Ask Rick Wagoner, it happened to him. 

In a statement released to the public, Wagoner said,
“On Friday I was in Washington for a meeting with Administration officials. In the course of that meeting, they requested that I ‘step aside’ as CEO of GM, and so I have.”

We can only suppose what will happen to old Rick now, taking into consideration the wrap that he managed to accumulate during his tenure as CEO of GM. Considering specifically that GM lost close to $82 billion since 2004 under his command, while it’s market share dropped like a prom dress.

According to critics, the losses were not entirely attributable to the current recession.

“(It would be a) disaster to leave this firm (GM) into its own leadership with public money going in,” said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a professor at the Yale School of Management. “The board has been a disaster for decades. This was not a situation that was really precipitated by the global financial crisis. This is a company that made extraordinarily bad decisions." 

Along with Rick’s forced resignation, GM’s board of directors also lost their jobs. These are the same guys that thought it would be a good idea to lease a private jet to fly Rick to Washington DC, so he could ask lawmakers for public funds to bailout GM while Hummers were collecting dust on dealers’ lots, and jet fuel, just like auto fuel, was still quite expensive. 

It was indicative of other bad decisions Rick made, like focusing on promoting fuel guzzling SUVs and pickup trucks while Toyota, Honda and Ford developed hybrid and electric cars to better position themselves for the changing industry in the tumultuous years to come. 

By the time the Obama administration finally stepped in to end Rick’s reign of terror, GM had lost its title as the world’s largest automaker to Toyota, after holding the heavyweight title for 77 years. 

Now, GM is facing the very real possibility of bankruptcy in the coming months if they can’t manage to scrape together a plan to pull themselves off their lips under the leadership of Rick’s successor, Fritz Henderson, GM’s former president. 

“Fritz Henderson is an excellent choice to be the next CEO of GM,” Rick said in his statement, “I wish him well, and I stand ready to support him, and interim nonexecutive Chairman Kent Kresa, in every way possible.” 

This is how Rick Wagoner’s legacy with GM is coming to an end. It begs the question: What was Rick’s first day after GM like?

I’d like to speculate:

7:00am - Wakes up where he passed out, on the sales desk of a Chevy dealership in Detroit; the only place he can find some privacy.

8:00am – Wets himself in the back of a cab on the way home, it’s a scary new form of transportation, and a Ford. 

9:00am – Stumbles out of the cab and into a McDonalds where he applies for a management position. He’s turned down for a lack of quality references, and the pee smell. 

10:00am – Sits with his phone in the play area waiting to hear from Henderson and Kresna. They don’t call but the pee smell is less noticeable here. 

11:00am – Rides the tube slide to cheer up, but he’s crying by the time he appears at the bottom. 

12:00pm – Wanders out to the drive through and catches a much needed buzz huffing the exhaust fumes off an idling H2.

12:06pm – Pukes, passes out, and is arrested for vagrancy.

1:00pm – Wakes up in the back of a cop car. It’s a Ford. He pukes again.

2:00pm – Dropped off at his mansion smelling of puke, urine, exhaust fumes and fast food. It’s a Saturday afternoon so his wife doesn’t question it. 

3:00pm – Splits a half-gallon of Potters whiskey with his former board of directors in the den. Once he’s sauced, they hold him down, take turns tea bagging him, and sell the pictures via email to every major news outlet in the country. 

4:00pm – His phone is ringing. He’s crying again. 

5:00pm – His wife watches the news.

5:14 – His wife divorces him.

9:48pm - Drunk dials the answering machine at GM’s main desk from a Motel 6. Says he wants to get back together and, “don’t not call.” 

9:53pm - Passes out for the day.

10:23pm – Dreams the 400,000 industry workers who lost their jobs are chasing him down a Detroit street. 

They’re driving Toyotas. 


You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus
« Back to Auto Blog
Auto Blog

The latest news, reviews and commentary about cars, trucks, and more, automotive technology and car culture




Contact the Spokesman

Main switchboard:
(509) 459-5000
(800) 338-8801
(509) 459-5400
(800) 789-0029
Customer service:
(800) 338-8801