December 12, 2009

Do You Ever Wonder What We Think?

Let's say you write a column, or two, for a newspaper. Let's say that paper is fairly widely read. Let's say that newspaper runs letters to the editor - once in a while - about a column you have written.

Do you ever wonder what the columnist thinks?

First, I'll tell you that we read them. Oh, yes, we read them. Unless you're Rosie DiManno, who doesn't give a rat's ass about where her stuff lands (god, I love Rosie DiManno), you care. The problem is, they're only going to run a letter that applauds you, or vehemently disagrees with you. And guess which kind are more fun?

Today I took a tiny drubbing in the Wheels section over a column I wrote three weeks back. Just when you think you're out....Anyway. I was discussing the top ten list of what used car buyers want in a car. And how that means when you buy a new car, you're really buying it for the next person, if you want to get the highest resale value. And how I hate that, because most of the stuff on the list is stuff I hate. Can I stuff the word 'stuff' in a sentence one more time?

The letter today calls auto writers 'snots'. Well, he doesn't use that term, but read it and tell me if it's not all full of 'snot'.

Lorraine Sommerfeld, Nov. 21

"There seems to be only one thing all motoring columnists seem to agree on. That is, automatic transmissions are evil.

It doesn't matter that automatics have been the more efficient of the two varieties since the late '90s. To become a writer for any self-respecting car mag, one must quote the mantra: manual good, auto bad.

The latest is Lorraine Sommerfeld, who sounds like my Grade 8 typing teacher who insisted we use manual machines, as it was good for the soul, even though no decent office had had a Remington for 10 years.

Please find some writers who are living in the real world and 21st century and not some Calvinist paradise.

Adam Wetstein, North York"

Aw, Adam? We really don't have secret meetings where we all decide what we're going to write, and what we're going to complain about. Really. The most common thing that comes out of a bunch of auto writers in a room together is a lot of arguing and a lot of hangovers. We bitch about everything, and disagree on most things.

As for automatic/standard? Ever driven a car in anything but perfect conditions, Adam? Go drive in crazy snow, ice, at very low speeds, at very high speeds or get stuck in a snowbank. Go do any of those things and tell me with a straight face that a standard transmission doesn't become your new best friend.

If you're stuck on the QEW in a hour long commute every day in stop and go traffic, yeah, a standard is gonna pop your knee. I get it. But I always (and long before I started writing about it) liked the idea of a standard. Control. Actually driving. Point-and-shoot automatics are easy; hell, as evidenced, anyone can drive one. Every time I read about some 6 year old who's driven his Dad's car for 20 miles before they stop him, you think that kid is in a standard? Nah.

Why do you keep hearing from people who drive cars for a living that they prefer standards? Because they drive cars for a living. In dozens of different circumstances. Which means they've actually tested cars against things other than a trip to the mall. We've been thrown into crazy weather, extreme speeds, incredible conditions and lots of instruction courses. If we all keep coming out saying we prefer standards, maybe it's because a standard was a better choice.

As for your grade 8 typing teacher? (And, you got typing in grade 8? We had to wait until high school). Anyway. If she's telling you to plog away on your manual, even though electrics were the newest thing, go tell a school board, even way back then, to equip every classroom with the newest thing. Teachers teach with the tools they have; but I'm sure you vote every election for the candidate that promises every school will be equipped with new computers - so the kids can stay relevant and current, right?

Anyway. I have a meeting. A bunch of us auto writer types are holding a secret convention to declare the only good colour for cars shall now be lemon yellow. Just so you know.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dang, I'm gonna have to paint my car again.

Or will Tremclad Green be next years colour? If that is the case, I'm ahead of the curve! :)

December 12, 2009 12:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope Adam Wetpants from North York reads your blog.

December 12, 2009 1:36 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

I can almost guarantee Adam (heh) doesn't read my blog.

If he did, he'd realize I'm a columnist. You know, those people who write their opinions about subjects. What they think, how they feel, and what they care about.

Which is why I'm supposed to tell you I prefer standards. Even though it reveals my apparent Calvinist leanings.

December 12, 2009 2:17 PM  
Anonymous buzzwhack said...

I have a love/hate relationship with manual trannies. On the open road, fantastic control of car. City traffic, steep hills, which we have plenty of in Halton, can be a PIA. In San Francisco, you can kill a clutch red hot smoking dead. If I want to be consistent and fast I'll use a tuned car with shift kit automatic. If its auto cross or a real rally situation, you pretty much need a manual. The reader missed the point of it being it is Lorraine's opinion. It's a free country she has every right to be "wrong!" joke.

December 12, 2009 6:51 PM  
Blogger OmemeeOzzie said...

My now 78-year old Mum a few cars back did the unthinkable; |she bought a Honda Accord Wagon. Don't get all hot and bothered; she bought the car because she liked the look of it and its colour.

After less than two months, she sold the vehicle. As much as she liked the looks of it, she did not feel as if she were driving the vehicle. It had an automatic transmission.

So, she sold the car at a loss and bought a Subaru Forrester. It had everything she wanted in a car, including a standard trannie.

She is now on her third Forrester. The last one, a year or so ago, she bought over the phone -- without setting foot in her dealer. She got the car she liked, in a colour she liked. And it has a stick shift.

December 13, 2009 6:56 PM  
Anonymous buzzwhack said...

I like the Accord alot. I drive a 2005 sedan now. It sips gasoline if you baby it. Honda has decent gearboxes, so it's a shame not to get one that way. Subarus are very good for our climate. That four wheel drive set up is honed to a fine degree of control. If you get one with a good engine, you're set. Their boxer engine can be a bit bad for oil consumption if you a sloppy one, otherwise they're good. I just wish they hadn't changed the grille!

December 13, 2009 7:09 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

I dunno what anyone of you are all talkin' about.

Just ask Adam Wetpants.

(That cracked me up, whoever left that one...)

December 13, 2009 7:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love standard. My Dad taught me and made me take my drivers' test on it because that would be the car I was going to drive (a Pinto at that!)
After that car it was a Mustang for 13 years and the only reason I had to give it up was the third baby wouldn't fit in the back seat.
I've been driving an automatic minivan for almost ten years now and can't wait until the day I can go back to my stick shift and that feeling of control again. If Windstars came with a stick I would have bought it that way.
I bet Adam stupidpants doesn't know how to work a stick or he would be spouting so much drivel.
Keep up the great work Lorraine!

December 14, 2009 8:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Omeemeeetc. Your mom sounds like a gas.

Adam Wetpants was moi.

disowned sister, back up and running and, I might add, defending my seestor against bullies from North York. (I agree,turd can't drive a stick - loser)

December 15, 2009 8:33 AM  
Blogger OmemeeOzzie said...

She's baaaaaaack!

I'm trying to visualize a turd driving a stick...

December 15, 2009 8:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

allow me to google image that for you...


December 15, 2009 10:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

check this.

December 15, 2009 10:03 AM  
Blogger OmemeeOzzie said...

And of course, I had to look. Your reputation as a Twisted Sister remains intact!

December 15, 2009 10:29 AM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

I don't know her.

(shakes head, leaves room, slams door.)

December 15, 2009 10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gooder huh!

I'll be there for Christmas!


December 15, 2009 10:33 AM  
Blogger OmemeeOzzie said...

Lorraine: every family has one. I believe that I would probably be that person in my family -- at least as far as the 'Hood is concerned. However, unlike Roz, I have (finally) learned not to say or write almost every thought that may pop into my raisin brain...

December 15, 2009 12:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know what the scary thing is?

I am holding back.


December 15, 2009 12:26 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

For the love of everything you hold dear, do not ask her to explain that.

December 15, 2009 12:27 PM  
Blogger OmemeeOzzie said...

Is Roz invited to the Christmas party?

December 15, 2009 12:51 PM  
Blogger DJW said...

There's a party?

How can you have a Christmas party without the bearded one? (moi)


December 15, 2009 2:50 PM  
Blogger Deven said...

Added benefit of me driving a standard: If I get lost, you can find me by sniffing the air.

::grind grind grind:: IT'S IN HERE SOMEWHERE!

December 18, 2009 3:57 PM  
Anonymous KenM said...

Here's another reason to choose a
manual transmission:


December 20, 2009 2:57 PM  

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