Irony is now dead — smothered by entitlement
A few nights ago Randy, a young African-American student and long time Uber driver, thought he was starting a routine ride by picking up Mr Ugly-on-the-inside at a gated community. The rider tried to get into the front passenger seat of Randy’s car but was politely told to use the back seat. Instead of just saying “OK” and going on the ride Mr Ugly gets angry and calls Randy the “N” word. Randy then tells Mr Ugly to leave and drives off. Now usually this would be the end of an ugly scene but our driver has a dashcam recording of the entire incident and decided to find out who Mr. Ugly is and show the world what happened.
After a simple search it turns out that Mr Ugly is Hans Berglund (a Trump contributor) who is 71 and founder and CEO of an organic fertilizer company Agroplasma in Tempe Arizona. After putting the dashcam video out on social media the story has since gone viral.
Two bad rides
Randy Clarke has been driving for Uber for over four years while attending Arizona State University. He has 14,000 rides in the log and an almost perfect passenger rating with a car that is clean and nicely stocked for rider comfort. During one ride he was assaulted by a drunk man in the passenger seat and subsequently set a rule that all customers sit in the back seat unless there are three riders. This is shown on his Uber app page and on a door sign. For normal, polite people this is simply not a problem, barely an inconvenience, but we are not entitled captains of industry.
Hans Berglund started to argue because he wanted to ride up front. Randy Clarke tried to defuse the situation by offering to cancel the ride and refund the money but Mr Ugly was not ready to be told what to do. Instead of walking away Berglund gets in the back seat and is politely told to leave. Berglund ignores Clarke and says, “I’m going to ride in the back and file a complaint. I have a right to make my own options.” Clarke tells Berglund, “I’m an independent contractor and I have the right to deny this ride.” Berglund then says, “no,” when told to leave the vehicle. He then says, "Are you f***ing serious with me?" Berglund is heard saying: "Is it because I'm white? And you're a f***ing n*****? You are a f***ing idiot."
Here is the complete dashcam video. Berglund is met at 2:20, everything before is just driving.
Hans Berglund started as “DJ Z” (his name is Hasse Z Berglund, Americanized to Hans) in Upsalla, Sweden. Below is from an interview Berglund gave to an organic industry magazine for the rest of the story.
Agroplasma USA is a leading supplier of organic fertilizer to the U.S. market, but if it wasn’t for the restrictive U.S. immigration laws, it wouldn’t exist.
“The truth is, I had to invest $1 million in a U.S. business or I couldn’t stay in the United States,” said Hans Berglund, a native of Sweden, who founded the business in 2004 and is the current president and owner.
First and foremost a musician, Berglund started a record company called Mr. Music that featured compilations of hits by artists from around the world. He would contract with top artists cherry-picking a few songs of various albums creating a mixed tape. He sold the CDs through a monthly subscription with his customers receiving a new CD each month. Berglund started the company in Sweden in 1982 and moved to the United States in 1989. He grew the subscriber list to 450,000 monthly subscribers before selling the record company in 1992 for a princely sum which allowed for full retirement in Arizona.
Berglund was living the good life, golfing seven days a week and dreaming of the day he could join the Senior Tour of the PGA. “I came to the United States on a combination work/tourist visa. In the 1990s, nobody ever checked and I just stayed. 9/11 changed everything,” he said.
In the early 2000’s, Berglund and his wife wanted to raise their two-year-old daughter in the United States, so he enlisted help from some of his well-positioned friends including then Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano and Jeb Bush, the President’s brother. “They couldn’t help me and told me to get an immigration lawyer.”
The lawyer advised Berglund that he would have to become a business owner to stay in the States. “That’s how it really works. I looked at starting a car wash or a restaurant featuring Swedish meatballs,” he said.
But a longtime friend, the founder of Agroplasma Europe, called Berglund at the opportune time. “He was always telling me I should open up a U.S. division of his company and so I did.”
In 2004, Agroplasma Inc., in Tempe, AZ, was launched. Berglund was told his application to remain in the United States would take about a year and a half, at which point he could sell his company or close it down. It took more than 10 years before he took that oath of citizenship. By then, Berglund was deeply enmeshed in production agriculture with employees and their families dependent upon him. And he loved the business. Today, he has no plans to sell or retire once again.
OPN Connect Newsletter 86 · October 18, 2018
Yeah, he admits to immigration fraud but has a good friend that can hook him up selling fertilizer (totally the same as a music compilation business) and so he gets to stay. Then, on an evening when he is not captaining industry, Berglund requests a ride from Uber, our young Randy Clarke shows up, and Mr Brglund turns into Mr Ugly in a viral video making the national news.
Dousing the fire with gasoline
Things blew up and Berglund was suspended from his duties as CEO and Agroplasma has named an interim CEO.
February 6, 2020
An update for our valued customers and community:
In light of the recent incident involving Hans Berglund, Agroplasma is conducting a thorough investigation of our company’s anti-discrimination and Equal Employment Opportunity practices, culture and policies.
We are a small business that prides itself on providing equal opportunities to all employees and candidates, and we firmly believe Mr. Berglund’s actions are not reflective of who we are as a company or member of the community.
We are committed to performing a full and honest assessment of the situation and taking the appropriate steps based on the findings of our investigation.
Nobody knows if Berglund is fired or just laying low until the heat goes away. The good news is that Hans “ugly” Berglund has found the true victim — himself.
"I'm taken away as CEO from the company. I don't have anything to do with the company anymore. I'm fired," said Berglund, outside his Scottsdale home. "I founded the company, but I’m gone. I’m history."
"It's so blown out of proportion, and it's ruined my life. It's ruined my company. It ruins everything about my situation right now," said Berglund.
Berglund says the racial slur is not who he is. Clarke, is not so sure.
"I think he's been getting away with using such or similar language for a long time," said Clarke.
"Using that word came very naturally to him," said Rev. Jarrett Maupin, a local community activist.
Clarke, Maupin and their attorney are now asking the Arizona Attorney General's Office and City of Tempe to investigate possible civil and human rights violations.
In the city's case, they can levy a fine of up to $2,500, but it is important to note the incident happened in Scottsdale.
"I think a lot of Uber drivers like me have experienced this," said Clarke.
For Clarke, it was a racial slur he thought was a thing of the past.
For Hans, it made his life last week a thing of the past.
"The video is the smoking gun," said Clarke.
"This is such a sad story. You have no idea what has happened here," said Berglund.
"I don't want his life to be ruined, but this man should not be in a position of power," said Clarke.
Randy Clarke has stated that he does not want any hate directed at Berglund or his family, he just wants this to be a teaching moment. I call that firm and fair. We will see where this goes.
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