Earlier this week, someone in the car behind me was eating some chicken wings. And I don’t mean nibbling a chicken nugget. I mean they were throwing down on some fully sauced hot wings. They had one hand full of napkins and one hand gripping the wing. They DID seem to be thoroughly enjoying them.
And they were also driving on a very busy road in the middle of the afternoon rush hour.
It was all very surreal.
It got me thinking. Cars are a weird space. On the one hand, it is hard to imagine a more personal space. As Americans, we spent a lot of time in our cars. In fact, most of us spend more time in them than we do in some of the rooms in our house. We pick out our cars, we decorate their interior. We hang stuff from the mirror and store stuff in the glovebox - usually everything but gloves. Our cars have food and trash and trash from food. There are clothes and phone chargers, packs of gum and sunglasses. If you have small kids, you probably have enough cheerios and goldfish in the seats to feed a family for a week.
All of this means that our cars are very much OUR space. And they feel like a private space. We sit in a seat adjusted to our liking and listen to the music that we choose and head to where we choose to go.
And yet… our cars are not a private space. Not completely. They are open to the whole world. Anyone nearby can just peer into our private space and see what we are up to. Have you ever been completely into whatever song is playing in your car, singing and seat dancing like nobody's watching only to look around and realize that every eye in the car next to you is looking at you? The car feels private but isn’t. It is public, and yet we forget that as soon as we sit down.