Morning Drive

Dear J-

Because I had yet another doctor’s appointment today (really, is it too much to ask that I not see him every month for some random follow-up or another — I have been variously diagnosed with various anemias and other deficiencies in the last year since switching to this one, who is nice and reasonable but rather aggressive with the followups) I got to drive myself in to work again, and that always means I’m out with roving eye spotting cars as well. Some of the always-tempting RX-8s were on tap, but it was the new Hyundai Sonatas that were out in force today — I pulled in next to one at the clinic’s parking structure very carefully because I thought it was some sort of exotic European sedan-coupe hybrid (think Mercedes CLS or Volkswagen CC).

It’s bigger than I thought, and better-looking, to boot; if I didn’t have an unreasonable bias against sedans and goofy coupe-roofline sedans in particular, it would make more sense, but it’s a sign of how far — along with the Genesis — Hyundai has come from the days of the Excel twenty years ago. Cars are funny things; you either regard them as appliances — something to get from here to there with as little drama as possible — or aspirations — extensions of who we are, two-ton glass and chrome rolling monuments to our egos. There is some middle ground, but it’s reflected in my mind — keep the one I’ve got, find an appliance, or something that makes me want to drive more.

Having gotten used to driving a car with a failing clutch means assuming no power reserves, no sudden bursts of acceleration, and jockeying for position — looking further down the road than I’m used to — it’s ultimately a humbling experience, but it’s taught me that horsepower isn’t everything for a car, expecially in our Southern California ecosystem. I watched someone bounce from lane to lane today, going progressively more slowly as their desperate maneuvers ended up costing them time — we’re our own worst enemies sometimes. It’s hard to give up excitement for numb appliances, but isn’t it more about our perceptions and assumptions?

Mike

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