(Warning! This post is NOT for those that are easily offended! You have been warned.)
When we were much younger, sarahahoyt and I used to knock around Porto when we were visiting her parents. On one of those sojourns, I nearly dropped my camera trying to get a picture of a truck going by that had rather alarming letters painted on the side. Now, to fully understand this, you have to realize that at that time there were a lot of panel vans (and sometimes panel hatchbacks — I am not making this up, as Dave Barry says), and they didn’t have the gauche American habit of painting the sides with company logos, phone numbers, etc. So, when I saw this particular panel van driving by, I was alarmed by the possible meanings. It was white, with three large red letters: F A G.
Let me take a moment here to point out that I have several gay friends. I’m not homophobic, and I don’t make fun of gays. I am, however, not above making fun of companies with suggestive names who don’t seem to recognize this fact, and I’m pretty sure my gay friends will get a kick out of this post. This one’s for y’all.
Let me also point out that this particular company is German, and this particular combination of letters doesn’t have the same meaning as in English. I’m aware of this; save your hate mail responses for something that needs it.
Anyway, back to the story. I was alarmed. Was it a specialized police enforcement version of a paddy wagon? Or maybe some kind of demented delivery company? I didn’t know. As I was telling this story to my son robertahoyt this evening, sarahahoyt pointed out that it was a German tire manufacturer and I remarked that I never saw one of those vans again. For the last twenty-some years, I’ve wondered if I just imagined the incident. Then I thought, "Hey, it’s the age of the internet. Maybe I should just look it up."
It turns out the company does exist. They’re at … wait for it … fag.com. Okay, that’s fine, but they seem to be oblivious of the English connotations of their company name, and the more I dug into the company, the more clueless they … well, judge for yourself.
It turns out that FAG is owned by the Schaeffler Group. Fair enough. If you watch the beginning of their video, you’ll notice that their spokesman refers to their two other subsidiaries, "Luk" and "Ina," as words rather than the initials he uses for "FAG," so presumably they’re sensitive to what could be an embarrassing brand name. However, they didn’t seem to notice that the order of their subsidiaries, their logos emblazoned right there at the top right of the screen, sound out a rather obscene sentence, complete with subject, verb and object.
Looking into their history (the astute reader will note from the URL that they’ve also smartly snagged fagauto.com), you’ll also find that in 1991, they established, without a trace of clue, the "FAG Aerospace Division" (it’s the 4th entry down).
At this point, I noticed that Schaeffler Group had a link to "Related Companies" under the logos, with the entry "FAG Industrial Services." I couldn’t resist. I swear I couldn’t. I should have. I just about fell out of my chair when I saw their main page, which, like the Schaeffler Group, seems to be oblivious. That page prominently promotes — again, I am not making this up! — the new "FAG Detector III Plug and Play." Apparently, it "provides easy access to the world of vibration monitoring." Um … I really don’t know what to say to that.
Also, this particular product has its own website as well, fag-detectoriii.de. And the product has a slogan, "Easy handling – low costs."
Oh, I really can’t dig into this particular company any more. My irony alarm is just too loud.