What I Should Have Said

 

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I wouldn’t say that the following is a rant so much as it is a vent, since “rant” implies an anger, which isn’t present about what had transpired. It’s more the kind of venting you want to do when you’ve just had a conversation and a scroll of better things to say than the stuff you actually said¬†scrolls rapidly like Matrix code through your brain. Recently, someone asked me if I was a “car expert.” First things first, understand that I am very bad at self promotion, but I was asked this for a possible work…thing, so I wanted to sound like I was right for it. Don’t get me wrong, I think I’m the right guy for the job, but that word “expert.” It threw me off. Suddenly I was nervous and talking too fast. I kept running out of breath because I didn’t stop to breathe. I felt like Morgan Freeman being asked if he was “rehabilitated” and saying everything they wanted to hear that would get him out of Shawshank.

“Expert.” Hmmm. As strange as it sounds, I’m the most hesitant to refer to myself as an expert of anything, including (if not especially) cars.

“hey, don’t you have a website about automotive culture and write reviews on cars?”

Yes, I do.

“So if you’re not an expert, why should anyone reading what you write give it any regard?”

I think that’s a fair point, and I don’t really have a counter argument. I think all I can say is what always runs through my head when the term “expert” is bandied around: I don’t know what the qualifications are. It’s so dangerously nebulous because if I claim to be an expert at something, when I inevitably don’t have the answer, that just opens me up to derision.

What I’m worried about is that I think car experts are supposed to be vast repositories of facts; the kind of guy you’d want on a pub quiz team, and I can’t justify referring myself as an expert if I don’t have¬†engine specs, curb weights and Kelly Blue Book values of cars on the tip of my tongue. I’m really bad at retaining this knowledge, even if I’ve driven the car and there’s vehicles I’m just plain not up on due to circumstance. I don’t, for example, know a whole lot about Subarus because I haven’t worked with them a whole lot. I have a general opinion about them, but it’s based on observation and very little hands on time. I certainly want to drive them more, but the opportunities haven’t really manifested themselves. So there, how could I be an expert on cars when I know almost squat about an entire brand? Doesn’t that rule me out? (to those nodding in agreement, just hold it, I’m not done).

The people who I think are the true experts, when it comes to cars, are the fans. There are Subaru diehards that could shame me with how much they know about them, new and old. Even when it comes to cars I love, the fans would out-expert me. I love the Ford Mustang. I have a Mustang. I’ve driven a lot of Mustangs. I don’t know everything about Mustangs.

The Socrates quote “I know that I know nothing” is purposefully the first thing you’ll read in our About page. I’m not the expert. You guys are the experts.

I think I’m more of a resource. I know things, I have the great fortune of driving lots of different cars in many different scenarios, and have my opinions based on them. I can give advice and, if I don’t have the info you need, I know the best ways to get it.

I hope I get this gig I interviewed for. I think it went well, but if I don’t land it, it’s okay. I just wish when they asked “are you a car expert?” I responded Shawshank style: “that’s just a made-up word.”

Words By – Alex Kalogiannis

 

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