A Car Does Not Make the Man, or Woman

This morning, my daughter came out of the house and said, “Why aren’t we taking the Camaro?”

My response: “Because I am drinking my coffee.”

Yes. That’s how I decide which vehicle to drive; whether or not I have a cup of coffee in hand and whether or not I want to drink said coffee out of the mug it was in, or pour it into a travel mug.

You see, most of my vehicles are standards, including said Camaro. The one vehicle that isn’t? A brown, 1980 GMC Caballero Diablo. It’s got the peeling flames on the hood (peeling because the deckle is, in fact, peeling off…I even had a nightmare last night that the deckle had come completely off! I know, I know, horrible! What is a Diablo without its burning flames of hell?!) and Diablo written along the bottom.

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In other words, it is sweet!!!

Did I mention it’s a car, but also a truck? Like, I can actually load my son’s dirt bike in the back easily? Without having to take a run at it or scream and drop it off the side because the ramp is too steep?

Diablo and Dirtbikes

And the Camaro? We’re talking a 1991 Z28 something something something. It’s red on red, okay? All that really matters, to me, is that it is a super sweet, old Camaro like the ones I loved in high school.

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These are the vehicles I alternate between in the summer, unless I am going a long ways and have to take my Subaru WRX. And I mean, HAVE TO.

I have a vehicle sitting in my driveway (well, at the moment I have three, but I’m only talking about the STI right now) that would give most 20-year-old guys whiplash (I was gonna say something else, something a bit more crude and sexually orientated, but I decided not to. It’s funny, I can drop f-bombs like a kid drops cheerios, and I can’t make a joke about boys getting hard at the sight of my car….) and yet I pick the faded, brown Diablo or my super sweet Camaro.

Why?

Because there is something about these old vehicles that I love. For one, they are super crazy comfortable. And I mean, comfortable. Not like new vehicle comfort that has leather styling that moulds to the contours of your body. No, these vehicle mould to the contours of your body because the upholstery is soft and squishy due to 30+ years of butts sitting on them. You sit down in the seat and its like falling into a pillow, because these seats were made with old foam. Like, the stuff that actually wears down to enable a level of softness that the new vehicles could never achieve, no matter how many hundreds of thousands of kilometers (or miles, if that’s what you prefer) you put on.

And the interior is simple. Hell, my cars don’t even have cup holders. When driving the Diablo, if I’ve got two kids in the car, one is my automatic holder and if there’s only one child, then I pull down the arm rests and tuck my to-go mug in the rectangular space the arm rest left behind. Perfect, although, the Diablo is smooth and an automatic, so again, I just hold onto my mug anyways.

But the Diablo has crank windows and a tape deck. Yes, a tape deck. There is on or off for the wipers (which actually doesn’t work, I have to use wash when it’s raining or, drive the STI, since it has working windshield wipers). There is low or high for the vents. The Camaro is a little more high tech with automatic windows and an aftermarket CD player, but not much more than that. There is no syncing with my phone, there is no sensing the vehicle in front or behind me. There is simply….driving.

Dogs in Diablo

But I haven’t gotten to the best part yet.

Starting the cars.

You turn on that key and the engine comes to life. And I mean, comes to life with a roar. And then it grumbles. And it rumbles. And it garbles. Basically, it doesn’t idle smoothly. It talks. And when you hit the accelerator, it braaaps like a wise old grandfatherly version of my son’s dirt bike.

When I would send my daughter out to start my “modern” car in the winter, half the time she wouldn’t know if it was started or not because the engine was so quiet (although, my WRX does have a nice hum to it, it is much louder than other new vehicles). I remember years ago, sending a friend out to start my car to drive her to school and again, she had no idea if it was running or not. Hell, I wouldn’t know either because you couldn’t hear or feel the damn engine.

And that is why, I love the fact that I can walk out to my driveway and pick from an old Camaro or a beat up old Diablo. When a BMW or a Mercedes pulls up next to me, or a lifted diesel truck that cost more than my first house,  I think to  myself, I am so glad I’m rumbling away in my vintage ride while you spent tens of thousands and perhaps even hundreds of thousands of dollar on your vehicle to drive the same thing as the guy next to you.

Cars in Driveway

Now, obviously, being different is important to me. Yes. And obviously, I get as much pride from my vehicle as that guy in his lifted diesel. And that’s it, isn’t it? Pride.

Ego.

Validation.

Kevin Hart, in his book, “I can’t Make this Up,” said a man’s ride is the equivalent to a woman’s breast implants. And I think he’s right. There is so much ego involved in the vehicle you drive, mostly from men, but of course, not necessarily. I have tons of ego wrapped up in my vehicles and I have to say, I love that my daily driver makes my kid’s friends go, “Your mom drives a sweet car!”

Because it’s fun. And because I like that I drive a cool car.

But I know it doesn’t make me cool. I don’t tell people what I drive to impress them, to make them like me more. I drive what I drive because I like it. Because I like having something a little different than everyone else and I like that I can pass on the highway quickly and easily (now we’re talking my subaru and not the Diablo) instead of being stuck behind a line of slow vehicles, and I like that I can drive an old clunker with a dirt bike in the back because it’s a car with a box.

But I don’t think that it makes me who I am and I do not have my ego so wrapped up in what I drive that when that BMW smokes me at an intersection I feel bad about myself.

When I am driving on the highway, nine times out of ten I can tell you which vehicle is going to speed up when I am passing them, and which vehicle, once I’ve passed them, is going to lay on the accelerator and blow past me in an effort to regain whatever self-esteem I managed to destroy by simply driving a little bit faster than them. I’m not kidding or exaggerating. Ask my daughter if you don’t believe me. This happens every time we drive back and forth to Edmonton. I say, “Watch this, the moment I pass this guy he’s going to speed past me.”

And what happens? I get in front of him, go back into my lane, and about a few seconds later, what vehicle is ripping past? None other than the one I’d, moments earlier, overtaken. Then the guy (and it’s always a guy. Really, it is. Every. Single. Time. Usually a guy of s specific age in a luxury vehicle known for speed and status, or in a lifted truck) gets back into his lane and proceeds to remain a few feet ahead of me. Never going fast enough to get away, often slowing down enough that I gain on him, only to lay on the gas and speed up again. Always driving so he is the most infuriating thing on the highway because he always has to be that little bit in front.

No, I’m not infuriated because he has to be in front of me, I’m infuriated because I would have resumed the speed already set on my cruise and then am forced to lay on the brakes every time the jerk slows down enough that I am riding his bumper. What is it about young guys (like, twenties or so. Trust me, I have this down to an art, but not going to describe what sets them apart here, this post is too long already) who buy BMWs, Mercedes, lifted trucks, that they can’t handle a stranger, and I repeat, a stranger, passing them on the highway? (Obviously not all of them. My husband has a lift in his truck, albeit a small one, and he drives like an old man. Like….semis and school buses pass him.)

Now, they don’t always do this. Sometimes, instead of waiting for me to have already passed them, the driver whose ego is so completely wrapped up in his car and his need to be faster than everyone else, will often lay on the gas when I am beside them. Yes, when I am passing them on the highway, in the oncoming traffic’s lane, they will begin to accelerate because they would rather risk an accident in which people would most certainly die, than have me pass them.

It is moments like that when I am glad to have a vehicle with a little power. And I say moments, plural, for a reason.

Why is it that I will set my cruise control to a reasonable speed, approach a vehicle in front of me that has consistently driven slightly slower than me, move to pass them and they have to speed up?

Why is it that people in their own vehicles, locked into their own little walls, have to be so threatened by another vehicle? A vehicle they may never see again. A vehicle driven by an unknown person they will never, ever talk to, unless it’s to apologize for being an asshole and sending them to the hospital.

This happens every single time I get out on the highway. I’m not kidding. At least once per trip, there is one vehicle that needs to either compete with me and my driving, or teach me a lesson even if I wasn’t doing anything wrong, or simply make sure they are in front because their precious egos will not allow them to be in the back.

The other day, my husband was driving his truck and pulling our holiday trailer. So, think of my aforementioned comment about my husband’s slow driving and add a holiday trailer behind it. We were not speeding, people. In fact, we were going rather slow. However, we were stuck behind a vehicle that was going so slow, my husband decided to pull out and pass. When he pulled out to pass, there was no oncoming traffic. I repeat….no incoming traffic.

As soon as he got beside the vehicle, around the corner came a van. Now, my husband is pulling a trailer. He has the accelerator pedal to the floorboard. What does the vehicle we are passing do? The one that had previously been driving 80km/hr in a 90km/hr zone? Well, he speeds up of course. Because teaching us a lesson, or getting angry that we were passing with oncoming traffic, which wasn’t there when we first pulled out, is more important than safety on the highway.

Because ego is more important than lives? Really?

What were we to do? Slam on the brakes when towing a trailer to go all cockeyed and potentially crash anyways? Or slowly overtake the other vehicle because it was a safer option than skidding off the highway.

The driver of the oncoming traffic gave us the finger, and the vehicle beside us tried to cause an accident.

Why?

Why is there so much ego wrapped up in driving?

Why do we presume to know what is going on in the head of the other person driving, a person we don’t even know, and then think it’s smart to teach them a lesson?

Or why is it so important to let that driver know that your vehicle is faster than theirs?

Or why is it so painful to have another vehicle pass you when they might simply be driving a little faster, or have a plane to catch, or…well, who knows. That’s the thing.

We. Don’t. Know.

That guy who fingered us was mad. We must have scared him. Or he must have thought we’d done a stupid pass. But here’s the thing, when we pulled out to pass, it wasn’t stupid. Because there was no one coming. The highway was clear. It wasn’t until the van came around the corner and then the truck beside us decided to speed up that the pass became dangerous.

Because the driver beside up sped up.

My guess? He sped up because of ego, or he was angry, or he didn’t think we should have been passing. Those are the only reasons I can figure for him to go faster than he’d been going for the previous half an hour, and even then, maybe he suddenly developed a case of lead foot. I don’t know. Because I’m not him and I wasn’t in the vehicle with him.

So yeah. I drive an old, 1980 Diablo because I like it. And I like that it is pretty much the opposite of a sweet, fast car.

And I drive a WRX rally car so I can get out of my driveway in the winter, and pass egotistical drivers whose car/breast implants are making up for a much larger (or smaller…get it? Smaller penis? Hahaha!) issue that a set of hot wheels could never fix.

But before you let your ego get in the way, or cause an accident, ask yourself, who are you trying to impress? What insecurities is your vehicle making up for?

Me? I just like them. I think they’re fun (and my sports-type car? It’s probably the best winter vehicle I have ever driven…I feel safer in that than my husband’s truck). But I know if you pass me, or if I pass you, it’s simply a matter of speed. One of us is going faster than the other. That’s it. And when I walk away from my car, I’m not walking away from what makes me cool or desirable or eligible. I’m simply walking away from a piece of metal that gets me to and from where I need to go, which also happens to be cool in and of itself.

In and of itself.

So guys, if you think your vehicle is what makes you cool, or important, or whatever else, I’m sorry. I hope that one day, when you grow up perhaps, you’ll realize, speed is just a number and the make of your car is just that…the make of a car. Not of a man.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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