I followed a muscle car home from work tonight.
I call it a muscle car because I don’t know the make or model. It was one of those late sixties, early seventies cars jacked up higher in the back, with big wheels and shiny rims.
It’s the kind of car you expect to see a guy in a leather blazer and big mustache driving.
The car was extremely well cared for, not a scratch in sight and buffed until it gleamed.
As we drove along, a similar car approached from the other direction.
It was equally as jacked up and gleaming.
As the two muscle cars met, the one in front of me honked enthusiastically, while the other driver waved wildly out the window.
Even though they acted like they were each greeting a long-lost friend, I think they were just car buddies. Strangers who bond over the fact that they own the same make of car.
Because my first car was my grandparent’s old Subaru and my next was a Plymouth Duster, I was completely unfamiliar with the concept of car buddies until I bought a Toyota Tacoma.
From the moment I drove my new truck off the lot, I noticed people waving to me. Or giving me a nod as they rode past. And all the wavers and nodders were also driving Toyota pickup trucks.
It’s like I had suddenly been admitted into an exclusive club.
It wasn’t long before I was waving to my fellow truck drivers too.
Sometimes I even would open my mouth, a tribute to an old landlord who used to always open his mouth wide when he waved. I think he was probably saying “hi” but it looked more like there was some sort of string between his arm and jaw which caused his mouth to open when his arm was raised.
I’d even call out “Tacoma buddy!” although I knew they couldn’t hear me.
My car buddy experienced intensified when Toyota issued a recall on Tacomas and offered owners 150% of the Blue Book value because the frames were rusting through.
In addition to waving, Tacoma drivers were talking, asking each other if they had “passed the inspection” or not.
A year after the recall was issued my truck, then nine years old, failed the inspection. I was not allowed to drive it off the lot for safety reasons (even though I had driven it there with no problem) and I sudden mourned the loss of my truck a little. Not only because it was “my truck,” but because I would miss my Tacoma buddies. (I had already decided if it was recall, I would replace the Tacoma with a small, energy efficient car.)
I bought my new car, a Honda Fit, and although not every Fit owner waves at me, I still get a taste of being car buddies.
There is an acknowledgment when another Fit passes you on the interstate, or when two Fits are parked next to each other in a parking lot.
I sometimes even call out, “Fit buddy!”
Why do strangers assume they have something in common when they drive the same car? It’s it just a recognition of shared taste? Or do we think it’s something deeper?
Whatever the reason, it’s nice to make a connection like that once in a while. Even if it is simply over a common vehicle.