Itís a Jeep Thing!
I was never interested in joining a fraternity during my days at Pitt. Greek Life wasn’t big at Pitt and we had Dan Marino quarterbacking one of the best football teams in NCAA history. The fraternities and sororities were certainly downplayed and didn’t really fit the mold of the city. Pittsburghers are craftsmen, doers, ordinary, and down to earth.
In a city where football and hockey are king, there really is no place for being accepted because of who you know, how you look, how much money you have, or because of legacy connections. We are more like our Missouri friends…. Show Me! In the world where I live and play, it’s how hard you work and how you treat others that establishes your true worth.
My second child, Caroline is a lot like me: she is a hands-on person, simple, and crafty. We like to do projects together. When the electric window on Oma’s old car failed to work, I came home from the office to find the door panel off the car and Caroline trying to figure out what was wrong with it.
We recently purchased a new Weber grill to give as a gift to my son Christopher and his wife for their new home. Home Depot said that they would assemble it for free. No need. Caroline and I did it in less than one hour. We don’t have people do things for us that we can do for ourselves.
In our divided world today, people really want to be accepted and feel a part of something. Like Caroline’s and my connection on doing projects together, we are not made to be alone, but live and thrive in community.
Years ago, our family purchased a 1999 Jeep Wrangler from a family friend. When you own a Jeep Wrangler (not a Jeep SUV, but the Wrangler style), you become part of a unique community. I didn’t know this before I bought it. It wasn’t mentioned in the owners-manual, and the information also wasn’t transferred to me from the previous owner.
It’s something you either have been alerted to, or you find out about it when you get behind the wheel.
At first, you begin to think that people are recognizing you more than ever before. You get people gesturing to you over and over as you drive in your Jeep. Then you start to see a pattern. They are gesturing kind of a modified peace sign (the same two fingers without separation) as you pass them. It’s quite unusual because, it only happens when you are in the Jeep. Then you connect the dots. The only people that flash you the two-finger sign are those also riding in Jeeps, and it only happens when you are driving in your Jeep. Duh! It’s a Jeep thing! It’s not optional to drive a Jeep Wrangler and NOT flash the Jeep sign to all other Jeep Wrangler drivers. It would be disrespectful.
What is so cool about Jeep Nation is that it shows deference to the Jeep Community. The Jeep Community is where each person is of equal status and value, no matter race, creed, financial position, political position, etc.
My old beat up Wrangler worth about $5,000 is as much a part of the community as a brand-new Jeep Wrangler Truck worth more than 10 times the value of mine. In the Jeep community, we are all equal.
I hope you are hearing me correctly. I am NOT saying that I believe everyone should have equal paychecks, that everyone deserves the same house, that we should all look alike. No, I’m saying that because we have a common bond and identity in having and driving a Jeep Wrangler, regardless of the value of our vehicle, we are able to cross borders and bridge previously impassible chasms.
We are able to respect everyone by eliminating all of the things that normally divide us into cliques or groups. Jeep Nation pays no attention to worldly categories and divisions. Jeep Nation simply values people. Those that work hard, take risks, and figure out life should continue to enjoy more rewards.
In my 1999 Jeep Wrangler, the President of a Tech Company that does most of its business in the Silicon Valley, me, drives a beat up old green ragtop where my Plant Manager drives a brand new four door Jeep Truck with blue LED lighting and the works. We are Jeep Nation equal!
What is hilarious, is when I drive my GMC Acadia. I often flash the Jeep sign to a Wrangler as it passes by, forgetting that my Jeep community is only when I’m inside my Jeep Wrangler, not my Acadia. When I am not in my Wrangler, I am back into the regular world.
I pray that one day, our society will mimic the Jeep Wrangler community. I pray for a community of common ground and common purpose. I hope that one day, we will see each other as equal regardless of those same categories of race, creed, finances, and politics. BUT for now, I’ll enjoy my drives in the Jeep where the same CEO who ignores the receptionist on his way into the office will flash his two fingered gesture at a Pittsburgher he doesn’t even know. Or, where a janitor at a high school will flash the sign at a tenured professor at an Ivy League university.
I recently heard of a North Korean man who had defected to the United States. While living in the Hermit Kingdom, his was constantly programmed to believe that Americans were wicked and evil.
He was shocked by the reality of what America really is, a kind and welcoming nation. He specifically mentioned how complete strangers greet everyone with a “Hi”. Much in line with Jeep Nation. As a game, my kids and I, (mostly me actually) will randomly wave to strangers in other cars or on the street to see how many people will respond, and respond they do…along with a smile and wondering, do I know that guy?
People today are STARVING for connection, belonging, purpose and relationship. None of which money or power can buy! Jeep-On!