Racing Back Home
When I was a little kid in the 3rd grade, back in the 1800's, the teacher gave us an assignment. What do you want to do when you grow up?
First of all, I didn't realize way back then that I never wanted to grow up....but my dream then was to be a race car driver. I thought it was a career choice. I thought it was like being a banker or a lawyer or a fireman, a career choice.
But as I came of age I realized "race car driver" was more or less a gift of chance. Your daddy had to be a car mechanic or somehow affiliated with the sport already, or you're not in. You can watch, but you can't play.
Don't get me started about Jeff Gordon, a rich kid from a rich family. His dad moved the whole family so Jeff could race. How real is that? Decidedly not blue collar. Yes, Jeff can sure drive a car, but I can, too. I just haven't had the chance.
But for the rest of us, there's the computer or the video game. We can race, without the cost and the pressure of big business.
I was racing again tonight (X Box) and I realized....hey, this is special. Stay with me, here...
IF this virtual racecar on the TV screen was real....
Somebody had to spend days welding the tubes together that made the frame. Somebody had to fabricate and bend and shape the sheet metal that makes the thing look like a production car (but it's not). Somebody had to micro-spec all the parts of the engine, the pistons and rods and journals and valve springs. Somebody had to build the carburetor to strict NASCAR specs. Somebody had to run the wires to all of the gauges on the dashboard. Somebody had to paint the thing and put all the decals on, and wipe the windshield clean on race day. Somebody had to make sure it had gas in it and the brake pads were okay.
Somebody had to load the thing onto a truck and drive however long to get it to the track, so I could be so fortunate as to race it as I see fit on race day. After all the work on the car, it all comes down to the driver.
And playing the video game on the TV, I wrecked that car, and in the process I took out dozens of other cars just like the one I was driving. I didn't do it just once. Trying to master the Watkins Glen road course, playing the video game, I have so far wrecked maybe 300 times. I have destroyed more hardware and money than George Bush ever did.
So, maybe my career choice-of-choice was not such a good route after all, in retrospect. But at least I can still pretend. Without the worry.