Well, we’re three cities into our part of the biennial Mini Takes The States cross-country rally.
We’ve been through Sturgis, South Dakota, Cheyenne, Wyoming, Park City, Utah, and are now resting quasi-comfortably in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the morning, we will depart for the final stop on this two-week odyssey: Palm Springs, California, at the BMW test track.
This has been a remarkable trip. Although simply getting in your car and driving anywhere from 6-8 hours a day might not sound life-changing or anything, but it’s not just about driving from place to place; it’s about not being worried about where you’re going, but about taking the time to experience the trip.
Remember when people used to say that Americans had love affairs with their cars? Cars made Americans free, giving them the ability to move beyond their day-to-day lives, and opening up a world of experience they had never had before.
People still say we have love affairs with our cars, but they don’t mean it in the same way they used to. They say it critically, implying that we prize our cars as status symbols, as mere objects.
And maybe they’re right. But they shouldn’t be.
And that’s what Mini owners know; they know that the car is not the end, but the means: the means to experiencing what our parents and grand-parents experienced when they got the opportunity so many years ago. Do mini owners love their cars? Absolutely. They dote on them, they wash and wax them in the driveway, they customize them both mechanically and cosmetically, and they bind themselves together in groups to just go out and drive together, to go places and see things they otherwise have no cause to alone.
And there is a huge variety of Mini owners: young, old, black, white, Asian, Latino, men, women, gay, straight: every demographic is represented in Mini ownership, but the cars and the experience bridges all gaps and brings them together, not as any particular thing, except as Mini owners.
That is one of Mini’s slogans, of course: #defylabels, and their owners do that in every way, shape, and fashion.
There are other groups of car owners that approach individual aspects of these behaviors, of course, but none who do so in so many aspects all at once.
I guess what I really want to say about this topic is just to remind you all to go out and just drive. Look around at where you are instead of where you are going.
Despite what you might see on the news everyday, we still live in a beautiful country. Let’s not forget to appreciate that.