AUGUST 21, 2012: HOW TO FIND A SMALL TOWN COMMUNITY IN A BIG CITY: GO TO A CAR SHOW

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We have written a few columns recently about this summer’s car shows and how much we have enjoyed the small town car shows because of the small town friendliness.

 

The main reason is everybody knows everybody in a small town and they let their guard down a little more in small towns where the chances of being mugged are somewhat remote.

 

The same rules of social engagement do not typically apply to large urban regions where not exactly everybody knows your name.

 

A million people represents a lot of names to remember, let alone invite over for dinner.

 

So big city folks simply go about their business and rub elbows with strangers for a fleeting moment and then forget about the nameless and forgettable masses of humanity for the rest of their lives. The system works well and nobody has a real solid reason to change the rules of engagement in the big cities.

 

The exception to the big city social interaction rule is people who belong to groups with a common mutual interest like car guys. We were at a car show in Calgary Alberta, a city of well over a million people, very recently and we found that small town sense of community at the big city show.

 

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The event was hosted by a car club with a rather large membership of like-minded car guys who brought their cars to the show and were happy to share their prized possessions with the general public.

 

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There are always a few vehicles that grab our attention the minute we see them at a show. We want to meet the owners and we want to hear their stories about their vehicles so that we can share the news with our MSCC readers.

 

It is a pretty simple formula that has only one serious complication: we need to find the owners. We would insist that owners be shackled to their beloved cars until we interview them if it was within our power to arrange that scenario at car shows.

 

Most owners are curious creatures and want to see other cars. They know the story behind their own vehicles and they want to hear somebody else’s story. They disappear from their cars faster than Adam Sandler movies disappear from theaters and that is pretty fast if you have been forced to sit through one of his performances.

 

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So we engage in a game of cat and mouse with the owners at car shows. The highly ineffective route is to circle around back to the car until we win the random luck lottery and connect with the owners, preferably before they are in a hurry to leave at the end of the show.

 

Plan B is to consult with the organizers and find out more about the owners like their identity and location. This is the point where we find that small town vibe in a big city because everybody knows everybody at a club show and they will connect us with the owner very quickly.

 

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The inevitable result is one of those “Oh that’s Dave and he’s that guy standing over there in the red shirt next to Bob in the blue shirt.”

 

It really is just that simple when you visit a small community of car guys in a big city.

 

Jim Sutherland

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