Things you are known by…

It is said that you are known by your actions, by your friends, and by your enemies. All these are true, but the single thing that immediately gives away your real attitude toward life is your choice of vehicle!
I suggest that you can look at a vehicle and immediately know more than you want to about the driver. From rusted hulks covered with grafitti and held together by duct tape to the Excaliburs driven by white-haired guys in Palm beach, each automobile says as much about one’s attitude toward life as about one’s income.

My first car was a used Chevrolet convertible, bought when I got out of the service in 1957. As a young married man, I could barely make ends meet, but life felt good when I could commute to work with the top down and I did that even in New England’s cold weather.

Eight years later, single again, I bought a VW Bug and drove it so hard that I blew up the engine. It was a fun car and served me well through all sorts of adventures.

I was finally earning decent money and bought a car that gave me all of the speed and dependability that I needed. That forest green Sunbeam Tiger served me well for many years until I managed to get broadsided in Ft Lauderdale while distracted by a major business setback.

Since then, there has been a succession of cars: an old Chevrolet Caprice, a supercharged Shelby, an old Ford Victoria, a Jaguar sedan and a Ford Windstar van. The car of the year reflected my level of optimism more than my economic status, which has varied all over the place. My preference for high-tech startups has made life exciting over the past fifty years.

Now that I am married to Gretchen and we live in the country, my vehicle choices have changed again. Once I would have given everything I had for a car with the aspect ratio of a luge and a supercharged engine. Now I need vast amounts of cargo space and off-road traction.

We couldn’t find a vehicle that gave me both so we now have two vehicles which should cover our needs for the forseeable future. One is a 16 passenger Dodge Van with an open cargo bay and the other is a Subaru Forester with all-wheel drive.

Both are working vehicles and they reflect the life we live and the things we hold important. We chose form and function over appearance, but our vehicles have a beauty of their own to us. They get us where we need to go in comfort, if not in style. You might say that these cars of our golden years were chosen for efficiency.

Our cars definitely give us away.

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0 Responses to Things you are known by…

  1. One’s vehicle of choice can mark a kind of rite of passage, as well. Recently, having gotten into the dogsport Schutzhund with my German Shepherd Dog, Oka, I sold my Mustang Cobra and bought a Mazda minivan so I could take him to work every day.

    The Cobra said, “I’m cool ’cause I can afford a muscle car.” But so can any fool with money. Now I have a very well-trained dog, which is something that’s a lot harder to do, and says a lot more about me as a person.

    Of course, the real satisfaction is the close relationship with an intelligent, happy animal–something no car can give you.

  2. You should write a newspaper column. I love your subjects. The kind of stuff I would love to read in a column. gale

  3. David says:

    Thanks. This is my column and I am getting more readership than I ever imagined possible.

    If you were to look at my first post, Another Lifetime Hobby of the Month, I compared the longevity of a weblog post to the written word as represented by a book. This comparison would also apply to a newspaper column.

    I truly think the future of editorial writing lies with weblogs. See also my post on Your Weblog – the ultimate power tool.

    Weblogs harness the power of the internet. There is no upper limit.

  4. David says:

    Dave Trowbridge is absolutely correct. Cars are one of the best indicators of rites of passage:
    A car = driver is sixteen
    A muscle car = driver is very cool and well-heeled
    A van or station wagon = driver has children
    An exotic car = driver is quite wealthy and now needs something to bolster his ego
    A battered pickup truck = driver is now self-employed
    A hearse = driver no longer needs a car

  5. Marie says:

    I think that my husband probably is the one person that challenges your theory or a least I can’t find a category for him. He cannot give up ANY of his vehicles. In his possession and in various states of repair are: a couple of classic 1950 vehicles, 3 Jeeps circa 1970, 1980, 1990, 2 cadillac ‘ghetto sleds’ from the early 1970’s, a non-descript 1990 Nissan pick-up, a Dodge Ram 3500 (his workhorse), a couple of convertibles of unknown origin and a slew of junk cars…he is not in the car business, but just can’t stand to part with his ‘babies’. I love him no matter what:-)

  6. David says:

    Look at the original premise of today’s post: “each automobile says as much about one’s attitude toward life as about one’s income.”

    Your husband would appear to be highly creative. I understand his motivation all too well. He and I are very much alike in some respects.

    On December 6, I wrote:
    I am fortunate my interests do not extend to designing or reworking vehicles. If that were the case, my surroundings might look like some of the homes on the back roads in this part of the country. You will often see a tricked-out muscle car or pickup near the front door and a series of partially restored vehicles scattered about the yard.

    You can see the rest of it in my post, “Its Time to get Organized” in the Master Post Archive at the top of the page.

    Every vehicle says something about its owner, but not all vehicles mark a rite of passage.

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