Lowriders & Business Suits
I spent much of this morning browsing The Jalopy Journal archives looking for an old article a buddy of mine mentioned and couldn’t find. While doing so, I stumbled upon something I wrote in August of 2006. At the time, I was struggling between my day job as a start-up exec of sorts and my night job as a writer. For one reason or another, I decided that August that I was done wearing suits, working 70 hours a week on something I couldn’t touch, and being a conventional man in this weird world of ours.
Ironically, it was all fueled by a ’63 Impala and a Mexican dude with proper style and attitude. Here’s what I wrote:
A few months ago I was in L.A. with a couple of my colleagues for work. We had a meeting in the Huntington Beach area and after spending a couple of hours fighting traffic, we finally got into the city proper. It was during the ten or fifteen minutes of navigating this small beach town that I realized my destiny.
The night before I had rented a Chevrolet HHR. Sure I could have gotten a Park Avenue or some other conservative 4-door, but I figured I might as well get something with a little personality – even if it was an annoying one. I bring this little detail up only to show a mind set I guess. Car guys are car guys… There are no breaks or time off.
So it was around 8 am and we were stopped at an amazingly empty intersection in the middle of Huntington Beach. We were a band of three wearing business suits as uniforms and carrying laptop bags as accessories. The radio was turned to NPR, but was only barely audible over the discussions pertaining to the upcoming meeting.
The sound of business was then interrupted (to my ears anyway) by the lump of a pretty mild cam and the lack of mufflers of any kind. I looked to my left to see an early 60’s Impala pull into the turning lane beside me. Being a car guy, I immediately went into “scan mode” and deciphered what I was looking at – a bagged, fog painted, and tasteful early style lowrider.
As the sounds of business talk continued in the background, I got lost in the scene. The driver was a mid aged Mexican man wearing a wife beater over latin style tattoos. A fedora and what looked like Dickies work pants finished out his uniform. He sat low in his seat and puffed on a cigar as he waiting for the green arrow.
I’ve been in this guy’s position before. He had me nailed in his peripheral, but fought the urge to look so as to avoid another thumbs up to acknowledge. It was almost as if looking in my direction was a form of admitting that he knew his car was cool. And that admittance just isn’t cool too many times in row. I got that.
Eventually, the guy’s curiosity got the best of him and he looked over at the stupid little HHR I was piloting. In one motion, he gave me a quick nod and hit the gas as the light went green. He was gone to do whatever it is folks do in early style lowriders at 8 in the morning while I was left back in reality. The volume of the business talk surrounding me seemed to go up a notch and I cleared my head and got back to work.
It’s been a few months now and I’ve been thinking about the guy in that Impala quite a bit. Our uniforms shouldn’t be as different as they were… And I should have been at that intersection under a different premise…
I’m not sure if I ever published this and didn’t look to see before going live with it this morning, but felt compelled to give the piece a little light regardless. Sometimes, I feel like I am getting a little too comfortable. I hate being comfortable. I hate being stale. My favorite aspect of hot rodding has always been the “punk rock” side of things. Fuck acceptance. Screw social norms. Let’s go fast. Let’s go loud. Let’s hot rod the world.
Motivation for me on a Monday morning.