I was in Austin today, and as I made my way around the city, it became apparent that the cars whipping in and out of traffic, and hurrying along were of the Lexus ilk. Ford drivers were pretty much cruising along like me. As I made a left turn off of Barton Springs Road and then a quick entrance into Flipnotics Coffee Space, the Lexus behind me gave an irritated blast. Big question: Why?
Are the upwardly mobile who have taken over the city of Austin so stressed out and uptight that they just keep a passive aggressive hand on the horn of their luxury vehicle? Lexus commercials always give the impression that it’s the kind of driving experience that is second only to spa day. They need to change that message because it isn’t working. On the other hand, Ford commercials show pick-ups racing through the mud with happy drivers reveling in the thrill. Is this backwards or is there some kind of repressed psychology happening behind the wheel of the Lexus?
It’s funny that people rushed to Austin for its laid back lifestyle, but somehow failed to leave their own uptight ways behind. Even the face of the city has taken on a slick, affluent vibe. You just don’t see as many hippies and earth mamas cruising down South First. In fact, South Austin has gone totally gentrified. What used to be the haunt of hookers and drug dealers is now the scene for the marginally famous and those who want to know them. Some of the best dives in the city have been demolished to make room for high rise condominiums with private parking garages for all of those Lexus SUVs and convertibles racing around town. The Fords are still parked on the side streets. In fact, those utilitarian vehicles don’t move as much as the upscale wheels. Their owners use two wheels and some leg crank power to avoid losing a decent and free parking space.
The problem with two wheeled transportation is still the Lexus. If it’s whipping in and out in a crazed attempt to get to Guero’s a few seconds faster than just taking it easy, then a bicycle is an invisible obstacle. In fact, the cyclist can expect to hear the same rude horn I heard turning into Flipnotics. It’s probably a good idea to yield to the hypertensive driver of that big luxury ride. It won’t slow down the bike, and it will probably save a rider’s life. Since that honk will be one of many blasted off in a day, the Lexus driver won’t even remember doing it.
That’s not to say Ford drivers can’t be uptight jerks, but Ford is usually a sign of common sense. Folks who drive them are more likely to be living within their means, so the stress of keeping up with the movers and shakers is pretty non-existent. It’s stressful trying to be popular with the power players! I just wonder if honkers are lonely when they get in bed at night. Do they feel isolated from real human connection? Is that what the mud dogging Ford commercial is trying to convey? Is it the freedom of just having a great time with people you love because you’re not up to your eyeballs in debt?
I don’t know. Maybe I’m wrong on all counts, but until I see less stressed out Lexus drivers, I’m going to hang onto my theory and continue to be the best defensive driver I can be.