I brought my car in for an oil change this morning and, after blocking the usual upsell attempts (No, I’m not interested in adding $300 in unnecessary services, even if they’re ‘highly recommended’), I was thinking a bit about cars and car culture during my drive down to the office.

Now, I’ve never been much of a car guy — twin cam, dual overhead, shift on the fly combustible edison, vin diesel car-speak has never really spoken to me.  However, being a Southern Californian for going on five years now, it’s virtually impossible to ignore the car culture here.  Maybe it’s because we spend so much time in our cars, or perhaps it’s their unnaturally long car-lives (for real, on the East Coast, cars don’t live forever the way they do out here), but folks out here have a strong attachment to their automobiles.

This affinity goes beyond maintaining their car’s appearance or mechanical upkeep . In some ways, people’s cars are an extension of themselves.  I was joking with a friend from Jersey about how hostile East Coast drivers are; but it’s not really all that different here.  People still take traffic incidents very personally, drive aggressively, and gesticulate wildly when they perceive they’ve been wronged.

Today, I am grateful for my trusty Camry. I admit I don’t take very good care of it, but we’re coming up on 100,000 miles and it’s still going strong (knock on wood!).  While I do glance longingly at a Prius every once in a while, I know that I am extremely blessed to have a car at all. See the Nooma clip below:

If you’re in the Washington DC area this weekend, I encourage you to participate in The Idea Camp this Friday and Saturday (social media guru @djchuang has posted some great iPhone apps for visitors to DC over here). In a culture that pushes us towards Newer! Bigger! Faster!, often at the expense of the least among us, we need this weekend’s message of compassion and justice more than ever.