Caring about Cars vs Caring about Ourselves

I know very little about cars. The topic bores me to tears, honestly. It holds absolutely no appeal for me. During conversations, if friends start talking about cars or vehicles or maintenance, my eyes start to glaze over. It’s funny, because I like understanding how things work, and automobiles are very interesting, complex systems. For some reason, it just doesn’t work for me.

No, please, tell me more about your carburetor problems. It’s so fascinating.

My dojo is located between three different automobile locations. One is a Meineke, a place that specializes in repairs. The second is a privately owned windows and glass-care small business, specializing in windshields and repairs of that nature. The final business is a car cleaner and fine detailing place. Actually, now that I think about it, the last business specializes in audio equipment, and their main niche is outfitting cars. Wow. It’s like this entire small block is dedicated to something I actually don’t care about.

I say hi to all the employees, as we see each other a lot. I sometimes hear stories or anecdotes, and though I don’t really care about the subject I listen politely. Over the years, through hearing so many different stories, I’ve come to a certain conclusion: people take better care of their cars than they do of themselves.

I work in the fitness industry, so I think I can say this with relative certainty. A solid majority of people are out of shape. They come to me to try to change this. I do what I can, and most people really enjoy the 45 minute classes. The problem is, it’s only twice a week on average. That’s 90 minutes total. When you look at what happens during the rest of the week, it’s barely a drop in the bucket.

This is obvious when we look at diet. People eat like crap. I think we all do this. I’m certainly no exception. It’s late at night, we get hungry, so we naturally reach for a bag of potato chips. We know full damn right that we are essentially eating poison. Chips have no redeeming factors. Most of the snacks and junk food we eat offer negative nutritional value. We know this. Doesn’t stop us from eating it. Afterwards, when we are bloated or experience a sugar crash, we realize we made a mistake. Yet, we repeat the same mistakes week after week. It’s odd.

Compare this with our cars. If you used a cheap brand of motor oil and it caused performance issues, or heaven forbid an actual breakdown, you’d never use it again. You wouldn’t even consider it. A majority of people buy the premium motor oil. Why? Because they don’t want to pay for their car breaking down. That gets expensive. We don’t want that. It would be really hard to go where you need to go, and it’s a massive inconvenience. Nobody wants his or her car to break down.

This is literally the worst thing in the world. Also, I noticed while image searching, a disproportionate amount of images feature women. Why is that? Isn’t that a stereotype, that women are bad drivers? So bad it leads to mechanical failure?

You know what else is a massive inconvenience? Having your body break down. For some reason, we don’t think about it very much.

Seriously, eating garbage food is the exact equivalent of using cheap car fuel or parts. Nobody would go to the dollar store to get nuts and bolts, yet we often go to get snacks like bits and bytes. We’d never purposely injure our car, but we have no problem doing it to ourselves.

It doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t think it makes sense to anyone. Our bodies are clearly more valuable than our automobiles, but we don’t treat them that way. I’m trying to think about the worse things people do to their cars. They are often a mess. People spill things both inside and outside. People often speed or take corners recklessly. Many people delay or miss scheduled checkups. Minor problems are often ignored until they become major. That’s all I can think of.

Compare this to the abuses people do to their bodies. Some of these have parallels with the list I made above. Some people lack basic cleanliness or are always a mess. Athletes often take a beating playing their particular sports. Many people delay or completely miss scheduled doctor or dentist checkups. Minor health problems are often ignored until he got major. All these things line up, but unfortunately, there’s even more.

We’ve already established that people willingly eat very poor food. Most people don’t get enough exercise. Heck, some people don’t get any exercise beyond walking, and they keep that to a bare minimum. I had an acquaintance who owned several cars. He retired early and was quite wealthy. He doesn’t drive very much, because he has no need to, but he made sure to drive each car every so often. He knew that if he didn’t, the lack of use would start negatively affecting the car’s performance. The man did absolutely no exercise for himself, but he made sure to exercise his cars. It boggles my mind to think about it.

Why is this? I think the main reason is that our bodies are too awesome. Think about it. Our bodies can regenerate. If you get a cut, it will heal. If you break a bone, it will mend. If you get sick, you will get better. It takes some time, but your body generally brings you back to health, or at least normalcy. Our cars do not do this, or at least not currently. May well be the next great invention, cars that automatically fight rust and repair dents.

If Wolverine were a car, or even better, a transformer, automobiles would have reached perfection.

What this does, I believe, is skew our perceptions. If we eat bad food will feel bad, but we’ll get better. It cost no time or money, except for the time we feel like crap. If we put bad things in our car, so the wrong grade of fuel or whatnot, the car fails spectacularly, and we need to spend time and money to get someone to repair it. This is a major headache, while our health concerns are relatively minor. If we ignore our car, it will never get better, while our body will always at least try to improve itself.

Basically, every time we do something bad to our car, we see the effects immediately. You learn not to do that. With our bodies, we can often ignore or push back these effects. We don’t see the consequences of a poor diet, say, after one meal. The real damage occurs over many weeks and months and even years. Because the cause and effects is so far apart, we don’t respond as immediately as we do with our cars.

Ironically, if our bodies were less amazing, we would likely take better care of ourselves.


I want to say this amuses me, as I’ve spent many happy minutes pondering the absurdity of it all, but I really shouldn’t. I want to say it disgusts me, but doesn’t. Part of the problem, I think, is that I do this, too. I don’t own a car, but I treat my computer a lot better than I treat myself. I’ve never intentionally downloaded a virus, though I have willingly eaten a Dairy Queen blizzard.

I’m hoping that if I point this out enough, if I observe it it will change me. Until then, I’ll keep looking at out of shape people and ones with poor diets taking immaculate care of the cars and not themselves.

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