The other day I was driving far more than my weekly there and back again trip to the store because I was chauffeuring my significant other to a scholarship banquet. On the way back, during this period of extended driving, I took a corner too sharply and wound up popping the curb pretty roughly, and subsequently returning to the street with similar violence. My initial response was not my typical expletive outburst over my own poor driving skill, but rather feelings of fear and concern for my car’s physical well being. These almost paternal concerns actually drove me to check to chassis, panels, and undercarriage as best I could with my limited knowledge of motor vehicles once I had reached my destination.
This self administered check-up for the car reminded me of the quick pat down and evaluation a parent would give a child to check for scrapes and bruises after the child fell down. This thought then made me begin thinking about the language used by car owners when referring to their vehicles and the practices related to them. From the ritual of naming the car, to the yearly trips to the mechanic’s office for a check-up, and having to personally feed and bathe them, even going so far as to refer to them as a baby. It is astonishing how much car owners and companies related to the automotive industry give cars this human-like status, elevating them from being beasts of metal and combustion to beings of spirit and character.
I feel that this relation is a clear example of the thing power that motor vehicles posses and can exert on those who regularly interact with them. And this power seems to manifest differently between each pair of vehicle and human. With some essentially treating the car as a second home, and others almost not daring to drive it for fear of marring it in some fashion. It could be seen as a parallel between the hoarder and the minimalist, both individuals highly attuned to the power of things, but one rejects them in fear of being overwhelmed while the other accepts all. I feel this line of thinking is an easily accessible stepping stone for individuals to be introduced into the idea of vibrant matter and from there begin seeing things a bit, weirder.