Five years of driving in the fine streets of Mexico City taught me what to expect from other drivers: aggressive maneuvers, inexperienced drivers, and reversing in the highway. It’s a tough world out there! When discussing this with my friends all of them agreed on something.
I was absolutely full of shit.
Because I drove a Jeep Grand Cherokee from 2011 with a Hemi. My experience on the roads is quite different to those of my friends, what with their comparably low slung VW and volvos, their punny turbochargers and impractical manual gearboxes. I was full of shit because if by magic my car turned into a human it would retain its exterior colour and be called Joe the Plumber.
Yes, oh yes. We’re talking about white privilege.
Because, Joe the Plumber was a fucking liar. He was blissfully ignorant of everyone else’s experience. Heavy traffic? I’m automatic. Highway driving? I have a 5.7 liter V8 that easily pulls my car up to and above 120 km/h. Annoying as fucking fucks taxi driver? Eh, who cares, they can’t even look at you at eye level because you’re so high up. Flooded streets? Who gives a shit just drive through it. No hydrolocking here, not when your breather vent is as high up as a five year old’s nose, and they don’t drown in the kiddy pool, do they?
I was so submerged in this experience that I was convinced my friends had it just as bad as me and any complaint beyond what I complaint about was exaggerated or an excuse for being lazy, or stupid drivers.
Boy was I surprised when I drove the Kia around for a while, suddenly noticing that the people around me didn’t really like me: they tailgated me, pushed me to the side, and abused of my behaviour. Cops no longer gave me the right of way and instead distrusted me, and cyclists dared brush their hipster backpacks against my mirrors and did not give me enough space to move about.
Most caucasian individuals have a moment in their life when they finally realize what white privilege is, for some it might be 5 years of age or 50 years of age. You feel your stomach empty when you realize how unfair and stupid the world is, and you feel like an absolute idiot for assuming other’s experience and wilfully assuming that it must be identical to yours. Because one assumes that equality is absolute and complaining is hypocritical until we read the fine print.
For me it was 14 years of age during a class debate about affirmative action. Boy oh boy was the class divided. Because every single white student in the room raised their hands when the teacher asked if they disagreed with the practice. All of our answers included “Me” and “Them” so you can see how the room was tense. It took us all of a month to finally settle the debate, and while I started against it, I began realizing why I was being a huge dick.
And my chariot of gold throughout that process was a jeep that was given to me on the weekends. A two year old Jeep,that just two years later would be my daily driver. It transported me in comfort and in absolute ignorance of the perils and suffering of the civilians around me, it made learning how to handle the city supposedly easy.
Because that’s what this jeep does, it makes everything easier yet leaves you wanting to complain about everything exterior to it. Because there’s no compromise, there isn’t a single thing it can’t do right. It can do everything about okay, yet it isn’t it’s merit, but what society expects from a Grand Cherokee that gives it its privileged position. Since its so huge and obtrusive, driving a smaller car you’d rather give it space and let it live in its own universe where turn signals are used and brake checking is relegated to the most tasteless, but letting this happen too much eventually makes us believe on an entire universe that doesn’t exist.
It is, at its heart, Joe the plumber. Willfully ignorant, boastful of capabilities it doesn’t posses, loud, and a bit on the chubby side.
Its less economical than Fer’s Jetta and slower than Alonso’s C30. It’s much worse for the environment than Frida’s Prius and way bigger than Daniel’s Fox. But something was clear, they loved driving my car, they loved feeling this respect that I had assumed came without saying. I can’t blame them really, I wished everyone was treated as respectfully as I was in that suit of armour. I certainly now try to help out fellow motorists, in perhaps smaller vehicles. But it doesn’t mean I wasn’t a hypocrite for a long time.
In the end the only idiot that agreed with me about driving antics here drove a Range Rover. But white privilege in England is another story entirely.