Edited to add: This post has since been syndicated by my friends at Jalopnik. You can read it over there and see the lovely responses from race fans. The title they used is not mine; I do not "let" my husband do things or deny permission to do so as I am not his mommy and he is not five years old. Regardless, as always I am extremely grateful to Ray Wert for promoting my work.
This isn't a funny blog post, or a snarky one, or one about auto shows at all. This is a blog post I composed in my head Sunday night, clinging to my husband, grateful he was there with me. Alive.
That's right, husband. There may be some more somewhat identifying information in this post, too, but today I don't care, and anyway, we're close enough that I trust we can keep this between us, right?
I grew up with a father who had a pretty dangerous job. This is the kind of job where you know that something bad could happen, but you just sort of choose to put that nasty little fact out of your head so you can actually function every day. You know, sort of like being a race car driver.
When he was doing this job there was no YouTube. The media didn't play video of action movie-esque deaths over and over and over again. It was pre-9/11 and disaster porn was at a much more tolerable level, if there's any such thing as a tolerable level of disaster porn.
Without having this stuff in our face all the time, it was a lot easier to ignore the fact that every time my dad went to work he might never come home again. I didn't think this affected me too much until I looked back and realized that I never dated a cop, a firefighter or any active member of the Armed Forces in all my years of dating, and everyone knows the young ones tend to be super hot with bangin' bods, so that's particularly shocking, all things considered.
And then one night this race car driver walked into a bar and it was all over. Bam. If there's such thing as love at first sight there it was. We went on our first date the next day and he was it for me from there on out. Seven years later, three married, my heart is completely entwined with his. I don't know where my heart stops and his begins, but I do know that if his heart stops mine will too.
So here I am, living that life again where you do your best to ignore the very real danger the man who's your everything chooses to face to pay the mortgage. But now it's a little different, because horrifying deaths play out on live TV and get replayed over and over and over and analyzed ad nauseum, and when you see it over and over it gets a lot harder to pretend it won't happen to you.
He and I watched the horrific crash that killed Dan Wheldon as it happened. He knew immediately that someone had to be gone even before the dust had settled. When he saw that helicopter running but no one loaded in for another half hour, that confirmed it for him. He didn't need to wait for the announcement to know. I was the one holding out hope. Maybe this means this, maybe, maybe, maybe. We had friends at the track giving us updates, but they didn't know any more than what the media was releasing.
When I saw Danica crying after talking to her husband the doctor, I finally knew. And I curled up around my own husband and cried.
Last night I lay in bed wrapped around him, feeling his breath on my face, memorizing the feel and slope of his shoulders, my heart breaking that Susie Wheldon will never again experience those things with her husband. I waited until I could tell by his breathing pattern that he was asleep before I let the tears come, thinking of how many long nights stretch ahead for Susie when she will desperately try to remember what it felt like to have Dan's arms around her.
And then I woke up this morning and went with him to pick up his new race suit, and pushed that fear down again so this pro driver of mine can live his dream and be happy. Because that's what we do. Because if he wasn't happy, I wouldn't be, either.
I have had it with these motherf-ing snakes on my motherf-ing car!
OMG I can't even watch this video without squealing in horror. Jesus. I would do the exact same thing and not pull over. What, were they supposed to give that snake the chance to climb in the car and eat their babies? It must have been in the engine block before they took off. OMG I am freaking out over this.
True story: One day my cousin was driving down the highway when a motherf-ing snake dropped into his lap. It was just a garter snake but Christ that would have been my death right there. I usually excel at accident avoidance but at that moment I would have been freaking out so hard I'd drive into a tree or off a cliff and the snake would slither away and no one would ever know what caused such a horrible accident. "There aren't even any skidmarks," the perplexed police would say.
Did I mention that the snake in this video is a water moccasin? The deadliest snake in North America??? No?
I am a huge animal lover but don't feel the least bit badly that they let the snake fall off the car into oncoming traffic. While I appreciate the fact that we all have a part in the great circle of life and the food chain, they can be part of the food chain in some God forsaken swamp where I will never go. Snakes don't have souls. I decided.
I'm so naive. Perhaps it's because I'm white and grew up middle class, but I truly had no idea how much prejudice and hate existed in this world until I started doing auto show. I mean, I knew it was out there - everyone hears people they know say ugly things once in a while (and hopefully crosses those people off their list of friends) but I had no idea it was still on such a grand scale.
Thanks for another sucktastic life lesson, auto show.
So over the past x many years I've been doing this I have seen countless examples of racism at work, but here are some that other product specialists have shared with me.
Booth bro is standing in front of pretty hot, brightly colored low rider one-off project car. Hillbilly approaches. "Is this car for the Mexicans?" he asks.
"Pardon me?" replies the astounded booth bro.
"Only a Mexican would drive a Jap car like this," three-toothed hillbilly replies. He laughs and looks up at the booth bro, expecting him to laugh, too. He doesn't.
Verbatim from an email sent by another booth bro…
"Scenario is one of my black teammates is taking a sales lead for our lead gen program from one of the shop techs from the local dealer. Him and several other guys are at the show 'helping' with customers. He is white. Below find the dialogue string between him and I keeping in mind that the black product specialist that just signed him up and is still standing there.
Him: 'So that’s it? I just go take a test drive and get $50'
Me: 'Yeah man that’s it.'
Him: 'There’s a bunch of other guys from the shop here with me can they all sign up too.'
Me: 'Yeah no problem man. Bring the whole crew over and we’ll sign them up.'
Him (taking a step backward and with a look of disgust) 'Crew? Do I look black to you?' then he walks away and does not come back."
Another story shared via email…
Customer approaches product specialist on floor.
Him: 'I heard you can't get the Tuxedo Black right now because the pigment comes from Japan.'
Me: "Yes it is in very short supply until we can get a supplier here to make that pigment for us."
Him: "Why don't you just go down to the White House and get some? They got more black than we need down there."
Booth bro is confused because what he thought was going to be a political bailout joke just went racist in one second. The guest then pulls out his cell phone and flashes a picture of a Downs syndrome child wearing a shirt that reads 'At least I’m not a n!gger.' He laughs and walks away.
Exhibit D (by far the most confusing because of who it involves):
Black product specialist very nicely asks two black children who have been playing in a car for over half an hour to find their dad, because a couple who are serious buyers want to check it out. Black father proceeds to scream at black product specialist saying she only kicked his kids out because they are black and the couple is white. Security was called.
Look guys, if you're a disgusting, miserable excuse for a human being there's little I can do about it, but the least you can do for society is to keep it to yourself. I don't want to hear this sh!t and neither does anyone else. Also, I have news for you: Whites are now the minority among new births in the US, so you'd better get used to being surrounded by the Rainbow Coalition. If you can't deal with that, guess you'd better hole yourself up in your survivalist shelter with your Confederate flag and your burning cross and your white sheets and STFU.
In case you've been living under a rock for the last two years, everything wrong with the world is President Obama's fault. Budget crisis? Obama. Teen pregnancies? Obama. All My Children being canceled? Obama. That hangnail you've had for the last week and a half. Totally Obama.
I don't know why people come to the auto show expecting to talk politics with me. First of all, most of these people who want to have these conversations are hillbillies and I can guarantee that discussing our wildly opposing ideologies would only end badly. Possibly with bloodshed. Second of all, I am here to help market a product to you, and taking the risk of complete and utter alienation due to opposing political views is not exactly conducive to that process.
Here is one of my favorite political statements of this auto show season, as spoken by a member of our Greatest Generation:
"I don't believe in all this hybrid mumbo-jumbo. Oil is perfectly fine. This is all just a conspiracy by Obama."
Some days, when I get back to my hotel room, my tongue is literally swollen from having to bite it so hard all day long. Some days I am able to slip in a dig or two before they realize what's happening, then quickly move them along to SUPER HAPPY FUN TIME CAR INFORMATION JOY JOY JOY!
"Well sir, there are hundreds of dead baby dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico who would probably beg to disagree with you on that," I replied.
"…But luckily we have lots of other vehicles that only have good old fashioned gas combustible engines so you can use all the oil your sweet little heart desires!" *Flash megawatt smile, cock head towards gas guzzling monster, sashay him over with an extra skip to my step*
One day when I bite totally through my tongue and can't work and can't pay my bills because I don't have short term disability insurance, it will be Obama's fault.
"So, do you girls like jokes?" asked that day's grandpa du jour, wobbling ever-so-slightly from the heady mixture of his Coumadin and Bud Light.
I eyed him warily. In such situations I can't exactly brusquely say no and walk away, so with a heavy inward sigh and a forced smile I chipperly replied, "Sure!"
That was my biggest mistake of the day.
Now gentlemen (and I use that term loosely), you and I both know that opening with a joke is always a risky proposition, no matter what your outdated Toastmasters handbooks might say. Comedy is a tricky business, and canned jokes even more so - they usually aren't funny, and the ones that are most likely to be funny walk a very fine line of being radically offensive, especially if you don't know your audience.
"President Clinton looks up from his desk in the Oval Office to see one of his aides nervously approach him. 'What is it?' exclaims the President.
'It's the Abortion Bill, Mr. President - what do you want to do about it?'
'Just go ahead and pay it.'"
JESUS CHRIST GRANDPA.
Despite how it might appear here, 99.999% of the time I am overly, immensely nice to a$$holes while I'm at work. Kill 'em with kindness, as they say. But come on now.
My chipper smile immediately disappeared and was replaced with my bitchface. "Really? You're opening with an abortion joke? You think that's an appropriate thing to say to a woman you don't even know?"
I spun on my heel and stalked away.
It's a risky proposition to tell political jokes to people you don't know - and this yahoo is upping the ante by tossing around abortion jokes? To someone who could have been his granddaughter? I should have suggested we call his granddaughter so he could tell it to her.
New rule: No jokes from grandpas will be accepted. The next time you ask me if I like jokes I'll just say no and start rattling off torque measurements of every car in the display.
The big auto story of last week was about how my nemesis Chrysler had a giant PR nightmare on their hands when an account executive from NMS mixed up his Twitter accounts and posted something (quite funny but corporately inappropriate) on the Chrysler feed that was clearly meant for his own.
In case you have a life and are not glued to the internet the Tweet was:
"I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f*cking drive."
There's a point to be made that nobody anywhere knows how to drive, but that apparently is neither here nor there. Chrysler lost their sh!t over this. NMS fired the offending Tweeter in a misguided and ultimately useless attempt to save the account - Chrysler dumped them anyway.
In defending their action, which effectively put probably about 40 people out of work, Chrysler said, "That commercial featuring the Chrysler 200, Eminem and the City of Detroit wasn't just an act of salesmanship. This company is committed to promoting Detroit and its hard-working people... we can’t afford to backslide now and jeopardize this progress."
Eminem, the main figure in this supposedly pro-Detroit ad campaign, is the same guy who made a career out of songs about slicing his wife's throat, stuffing her in the trunk of his car and dumping her body in a lake while their kid watches.
And it turns out he's not such a big fan of the Dirty D, either.
Here are Eminem's own words about the "beloved" city of Detroit:
"That's why the city is filled with a bunch of f*cking idiots still
That's why the first motherf*cker poppin some sh!t he gets killed
That's why we don't call it Detroit, we call it Amityville
You can get capped after just having a cavity filled
Ahahahaha, that's why we're crowned the murder capital still
This ain't Detroit, this is motherf*cking Hamburger Hill!
We don't do drivebys, we park in front of houses and shoot
and when the police come we f*cking shoot it out with them too!
That's the mentality here that's the reality here
Did I just hear somebody say they wanna challenge me here??
While I'm holding a pistol with this many calibres here??
Got some registration and just made this sh!t valid this year?
Cause once i snap i cant be held accountable for my actions
and that's when accidents happen,
when a thousand bullets come at your house
and collapse the foundation around and they found you
and your family in it"
But, ya know. That thing about the traffic. Way worse.
No really, why is your THREE YEAR OLD CHILD DRY HUMPING MY CAR????
Somehow the radio still worked. Before the show starts our techs go in and remove a bunch of fuses, some for safety and some for the annoyance factor. I really don't care to be repeatedly sprayed with wiper fluid, for example, so that's removed. Usually the stereo fuse is removed too, but sometimes for various reasons it isn't.
At this show, in this car, it wasn't. And when the stereo fuse is still in and active, the radio gets blared and it is never, ever music that you would want blared at a family event like an auto show. Usually the n-word is involved, or f-bombs, or graphic descriptions of things that would make Charlie Sheen blush and would make my boss go totally apoplectic, and rightly so.
So the parents climb into the car and the two kids and a couple of other adults they were with are hanging outside, and Daddy Dearest cranks up the stereo - I believe it was 50 Cent and Jeremih, Down On Me. All hell broke loose.
Shouts of joy erupt from the car. Highly energetic dancing begins. The children are not excluded from this. Usually I love watching little kids dance, because it's adorable and they're so happy doing it.
But this was just disturbing.
This baby, no more than three and possibly younger, threw her leg up on the bumper and started dry humping it, very slowly and deliberately. That was her dance move. And she was looking around as she was doing it to make sure Mommy and Daddy saw what a good dancer she was.
This was not a cute little "Oh look at baby shake her booty!" nor was it like those kids doing the Singles Ladies dance. This child was going to town on the car video vixen style, with a very deliberate grinding motion. (Great hips on that kid, by the way - they should get her into dance class.)
And instead of being embarrassed or stopping her and explaining how/why the behavior was inappropriate (and I don't care what you say, such obvious sexual acting out is inappropriate for a child that age, even if she doesn't know what she's doing) her parents cheered her on. And she kept humping the bumper.
Children don't just come up with this behavior off the tops of their heads, of course. She has seen Mommy do it, or she has seen it on TV and emulated it and got an encouraging response from her parents, like the one she got at the show, and kept doing it.
Chris Rock says the most important thing a man can do for his daughter is keep her off the pole. Judging from the way this poor child is already behaving, so highly sexually-charged, I think she may already have a pole installed in her nursery.
Are you an auto show model, HIN girl or product specialist?
Do you have an auto show story? Tell me about your funniest experience, the most touching, the biggest jerk or the worst pickup line you've had laid on you. Email me at DYCWTC@gmail.com and I'll share it with my readers, keeping you anonymous.