Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Subaru tribe?

What constitutes a community? Definitions vary, but surely common interests, along with geography, can play a role.

I attended my first Nebraska Subaru Owners' Club meet over the weekend. There were over 40 Subarus present, most of them turbocharged Imprezas. (Mine was the only Outback.) Naturally, I neglected to bring my camera. But this video, I think, captures the spirit of the local Subaru community:

My wife (who happens to drive a Honda) is skeptical about the notion of a Subaru community, and even more so about the notion of a Subaru culture. ("Soon you'll be your own race," she muttered sarcastically.) But obviously many of us enjoy associating with like-minded people, be it for a leisurely cruise, a spirited drive, or a day at the track. (All three of which were features of my weekend.) Some of us make a point of waving at other Subaru drivers, or, more interestingly, of parking next to other Subarus. To improve our chances of meeting the other drivers? So the cars themselves can "hang out together"? Just because they look good together? I preferentially park next to other Subarus, but even I can't tell you why. Maybe Susan's right, and it's sheer madness—albeit a harmless, shared, community-minded madness. Like many other groups, Subaru enthusiasts have their own terminology which, while serving primarily as shorthand, also distinguish insiders from outsiders: As someone put it recently, "Every group has its Muggles."

I think some car brands (Subaru, Jeep, arguably Volkswagen) inspire a sense of group identity, while other companies (Honda, Toyota, Chevrolet) are perhaps too big, too anonymous to do so. (Though individual offerings from these companies, the Chevrolet Corvette for example, may have their own followings.) For many drivers, a car is just a car. But for others, a car makes itself so useful that it seems to take on a personality of its own, becomes familiar in the full meaning of that word.

Why I'm choosing to write about this, I'm not sure. Perhaps this is just the blogging equivalent of a slow news week. But a weekend of motoring has me musing on the nature of community and the origins of tribalism, so I'd be glad to hear some thoughts from readers.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Grace under pressure

When angry, count four. When very angry, swear.

—Mark Twain

Obviously someone at the Lancaster County Sheriff's Department is doing well with their training. Here, Deputy Ryan Schmuecker counts more than four (about ten, I reckon) and manages not only not to swear but even to be polite: "You want to pull your vehicle forward so that it's not on top of mine anymore, please?"

HT to the Lincoln Journal Star, kudos to Deputy Schmuecker for his incredible composure, and best of luck to all of us who have to share the road with the idiot in the SUV.

(PS to the Journal Star: the GL series is built by Mercedes, not BMW.)