QOTD: Are You Part of the Team?
“If you’re one of us, you’ll take a bite.”
If that quote soars over your head, I don’t want to know you. The infamous Seinfeld incident in which an eager-to-impress George reveals to his colleagues that he’s not a team player (at the same time sparing himself from becoming violently ill), riffs on the homogeneity of upper office environments. The forced social collectivization of a corporate in-group.
Climb the ladder high enough and you’ll wear the same brands, enjoy the same timepieces, drink the same booze, and golf the same courses. Or so the perhaps dated view of these things goes. Now, what about cars?
A number of months ago an email made the rounds on social media. In this correspondence, an employee of a supposedly successful and image-conscious firm chastised the owner of a circa 2005 Toyota Camry for parking his or her [s]heap[/s] desirable and long lasting sedan amid the various premium rides in the company lot. Apparently, the firm wanted to know why the owner had not upgraded yet — after all, their salary allowed it.
The email may or may not have been false; last I recall, people were on the fence as to its authenticity. It doesn’t matter whether or not it was real, it suits our purposes either way.
Have you ever, during your long (or not so long) career arc, found yourself in a position where your employment standing suddenly glowed, but your daily driver’s tarnished lustre didn’t measure up? If so, did that create an image problem for you? What course of action did you take?
[Image: General Motors]
I'm part of the team that's interested in what others do but not overly influenced by them . -Nate
I drive what *I* think is cool. For me, it’s never been about impressing the masses, although I’ve always been a car guy. So ruffling the feathers of the corporate suck-ups who are quick to jump on that eco-conscious bandwagon is something that causes no loss of sleep on my end. At the end of the day, you have to be true to yourself. Personally, Id be more confident driving a weathered but reliable and sorted out Duster, Dodge truck or Jeep CJ than some luxury branded sedan or suv. That’s fine for someone else but I ld feel like a phony and a sell out since it’s just not ‘me’ and I ld get no joy from driving it. Hell...I once owned a PT Cruiser GT with the HO turbo and 5spd stick. Hardly ANYONE thinks PT cruisers are cool. Didn’t care then, still dont. After a few mods, that car was an absolute rocket. Even hater gave it respect since I had it tastefully customized with a handling suspension, blacked out everything and an uncorked exhaust. “I hate these cars, but yours is actually kinda sick.” Got that sentiment a LOT more than Id have ever imagined. But ultimately it was a satisfying car to own and drive, being a manual/turbo. I always liked the looks of them if the color/personalization was right. Hell yeah I would own another.
So from personal experience, an '87 Mercury Sable, a 1990 Mitsubishi Eclipse, a 2000 Corolla all had controls with tactile features that made them easily controllable without looking at them after one became familiar with them, and were reasonably operable with gloves on. Featureless flat touch screens, (and I will add the control panel made of buttons that are non distinct tiles on my 2016 Prius for that matter) absolutely demand looking at them to operate them. Another example, the behind the steering wheel cruise control lever that was on my paren'ts Camry, my Corolla, and my current Prius is perfect. It is big, easy to grip, and the functions are distinct and use directional gestures, they become almost unconscious after a time. In contrast, the tightly spaced little ring and center button the right steering wheel spoke on my 2020 RAV4 cruise control all require the same input: a button press. It is extremely easy to hit the wrong button and foul up the operating mode of the cruise control. After 7000miles with it, I give up ever being instinctively fluent with it. It can be done by feel, but it still demands mental distraction to feel around to ascertain which button to press. I remember one of the things that the original Taurus and Sable were praised for was that their controls were tactile, and they could be identified by touch rather than sight.
I have driven older vehicles and I have kept them up both mechanically and in appearance. An old vehicle does not have to be a hoopty. I gave my nephew a 99 S-10 that I had for over 20 years that looked and ran like new. Never was repainted and the interior was in excellent condition. Most people could not believe that my S-10 was 20 years old and that was true of all the vehicles I have ever owned. I never had anyone complain about the looks or shape that my vehicles are in and if I did I wouldn't care. I take pride in taking care of what I own and expect things to last. There is no embarrassment in driving an old vehicle that is well maintained.