COTD: The Informative Function Of The Automobile Edition

Automobiles are not a mode of human transportation. They are a mode of information transportation.

The people that move inside of cars are unimportant. People live everywhere. A few more here or a few more there makes no big difference. What cars do change is that they allow people to bring what they know with them. In the 19th century, our best way of getting ideas out were letters and maybe a train ticket if we had money. People didn't learn very much about strangers from distant areas of the country, let alone of the world. The car changed that.

Cars bring together strangers and their different ideas, sometimes in surprising and hilarious ways. Right after Ben told us how he lived in an RV down by the river, Hadaken told us his story of RV living, and the strangers he met, including one man he who he knew for years before ever learning that he was a professional Nascar driver.

Living in an RV can be great. I did it for a few years while working in Charlotte, NC for a bank. I had my monster bitch parked right across the street from Lowes Motor Speedway (Charlotte Motor Speedway). My RV looked respectable, even though it was a utilitarian 'expedition style' RV meant for boondocking for months while transporting a vehicle in the back garage. I was usually granted access to the 'nice' RV parks. You know, the kind where only motorcoaches with names like Prevost, MCI, and Mobile Mansions are allowed. I also would occasionally slum it when I was on the road. Pull into a KOA, or just find a truck stop and pull in for the night.

You meet lots of people, some are the dregs of society, some are down on their luck, some are just people who love freedom. I hung out with NASCAR drivers, promoters, random race 'fans' and their incredible mountains of trash, and made awesome food. I hid from tornadoes, hail storms, and snow. There were days when my AC systems couldn't keep the thing under 80, and there were days when I woke up and had no water because it was 0F outside. I knew Greg Biffle for two years before I even learned he was a NASCAR driver. We ate BBQ together a few times. I thought he was on the pit crew. We got a good laugh out of that. One Thanksgiving, I pulled into a rest area after driving 600 miles. I setup my cooking gear, and deep fried a turkey, made some mash potatoes, and cooked some bread. I was carving it up and going to refrigerate the leftovers, but ended up sharing it with about 5 truckers who were on the road. Every one of them told me how they had been divorced, or how they were separated. Their jobs had destroyed the families they were trying to support. We watched football and retired to our respective vehicles. A year later I met one of the guys again, I had thrown/torn my alternator belts and was down on the side of the road. He loaned me a spare belt and we made it to the truck stop up the road where I bought a belt for him and finished fixing my rig.

I also heard horror stories about the little RVs. The Ford and Chevrolet gassers that would get 4 or 6 or MAYBE 9mpg. They would be floored when they heard mine got 9.4mpg, being ~40 feet long and powered by a 500hp Cummins. How those gassers couldn't make it up I40 outside of Ashville (mountain climb), or that they were in that park because they couldn't afford to pay someone to replace the alternator. I rebuilt their alt for them for 18 bucks, they were too old to do the labor and a shop wanted 300 bucks+tow. I heard stories about people who lost their homes, and now were a 4 person family with a dog living in a 16 footer. it was an interesting, and enriching phase in my life.

If you get the chance some day, go on a big trip in an RV. Do it for 2 or 3 months. Even if you hitch up a teardrop, and go explore. (Don't ACTUALLY do a teardrop, trust me, you want a toilet and a shower, preferably with hot water.)

Photo Credit: FRr3d.org