Monday, March 26, 2012

You, On Wheels

            From person to person, is there one object that says more about who someone is than their car?  It’s starting to seem like in this day and age of public transportation, clustering population, telecommuting and an overall decline in the need for individual motor vehicles, our cars are saying more about us than ever.  In most cases, for example, your car will be the possession of yours people see on a regular basis that you’ve put the most time and money into, and consequently what you’ve spent the most time trying to personalize.
            It’s true, some people personalize their computers- I’ve put a couple stickers on mine, both having to do with Ultimate, causing my dad to now refer to all PCs as U-L-T machines.  In contrast, I’ve done very little personalization on the car I’ve got now, my first car.  I’ve clipped one St. Christopher medallion from one of my CCD pupils to the visor on the driver’s side, but most of what makes my car mine are quirks that I’ve either discovered or in some way caused.  I mean, maybe I was parked a little too close to the car in front of me that Saturday night in October after a full night of DDing all over tarnation, but that doesn’t mean I deserved the F-bomb scratched into the hood. (The F-bomber is in strong consideration to take over for Bucklass Supreme as my car’s nickname.)  Consequently, I am aware that Metallic Dark Teal is apparently not a very common touchup color to find.
            As far as other peculiarities with the BS, it has repeatedly taken just the right amount of coaching to get extra passengers to be able to yank open the aft starboard hatch (my right backseat door).  And I’m not quite sure that I’ll ever understand how the heating and cooling works, but for the most part, I like things just the way they are. Which is why I haven’t yet changed the pre-programmed stations on the radio, or the fact that the clock is five minutes fast.  Really everyone I talked to has noticed intricacies about their own cars, and know exactly how to handle them or deal with them.  We even, I think, to a large extent embrace them.  We have to.  Driving is a skill, and part of that skill is adapting- both behind the wheel, and under the hood, as the case may require.  But it’s one at which we must always strive to get better.  Because driving is also a skill which involves understanding, to some extent, the technology behind it- and technology is something that is constantly advancing.
            That’s what can be most telling about our cars, too.  How we drive is often a reflection of what we’re driving, just as what we’re driving is a reflection of how we want to drive.  A sports car, a pickup, a Jeep- they’re all going to be driven in different ways.  And very few skills offer people as deep an insight into our nature, both as groups and individuals, as driving.  The mention of said act inspires stereotypes for groups, individuals, and populations.  So it goes without saying that simply the type of vehicle we drive can make people think they know how we drive and therefore that much more about us.  The amount of ability it takes to drive a certain car can play into it, but so can what people think they know about how drivers of certain types of vehicles, makes of vehicles, even colors of vehicles, actually drive.  It’s been well-documented that drivers of red cars drive faster and are pulled over more often.  A Buick might make you think an elderly person is behind the wheel and that they’re going to creep along way under the speed limit.
            My car probably doesn’t say much at all- it’s an Oldsmobile.  But if I had to predict which make I might end up with someday, I would guess something German- maybe BMW, but probably a Volkswagen.  I just love their logo.