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Cruising Down the Boulevard--on eBay
The Power of Speed and the Dynamics of Nostalgia
From the moment he first stumbled upon the potential power of a boulder rolling down a hill, man has zealously engaged in the creative pursuit of developing rapid acceleration devices. The invention of the wheel, then, was no minor quantum leap towards man's obsession with speed.
Perhaps equal to man's passionate quest for ever-increasing acceleration was his compulsion for recording lifetime achievements. The walls of ancient caves and the markings on petrified organic materials are certainly a testament to this.
The stark reality that everything and everyone eventually passes on to an unexplored frontier may very well have moved man to take a more serious look at the passage of time. As he learned how to keep and maintain a calendar, time took on an even more significant role in his life. As the concept of time came to have more meaning and relevance in man's life, it's not difficult to imagine, then, how time's cerebral first cousin--memory --fueled man's cultural story-telling at the local campfires.
These ancient storytellers--these pioneer Hubbers, as it were--grunted, whooped, moaned, sang, and danced their tales to the delight of young and old alike. Alternatively, the shyer lone wolves in the homo sapiens pack would scratch their markings and drawings onto stone walls, the barks of trees, or the hardened clay of dried-up river beds. If for no other reason than to establish that they had existed, that they had experienced incredible challenges, and that they wanted to somehow memorialize their very being , they enthusiastically shared their stories with successive generations. In so doing, they simultaneously reveled in and sadly reflected upon the grief and loss of their very, very short season on earth.
Of such beginnings, perhaps, were nurtured the early stirrings and generation-transcending heartstrings of nostalgic recall.
Adolescent Rite of Passage
It can happen in one of several ways.
Parents present their adolescent child with the gift of a car. A family may have the financial means to give their child a car, no strings attached. While immediate gratification instantly upgrades the youth to a higher status with his or her peers, the potential long term downside is that this action may contribute to a mentality of taking things for granted or a sense of entitlement. Psychologically, most people tend to take better care of things they've worked hard to obtain or achieve.
The teenager is handed a set of keys to the family car . Parents present their joyful child with a set of keys. However, there are strings attached. The youth is encouraged to be employed during the summer months and/or after school, if possible, and is required to contribute X amount of dollars each month towards any remaining monthly payments on the car. If the car is paid for, then the child is to contribute so much for insurance. He or she must maintain their grades. The child can only use the car on certain days of the week and only at certain times. While the down side of this arrangement for the youth may involve limited use of the car, the benefits are that he or she can potentially gain negotiation and contractual skills as well as a healthy sense of responsibility and accountability.
A younger child inherits the family junker from an older sibling. True, there is a family dynamic known as living in the shadow of an older sibling , but in this case, there may be a win-win dynamic in accepting another form of hand me down . The younger child may very well benefit from receiving a free car. He or she can use his or her allowance or earnings from a part-time job for gas money. He or she may have had the opportunity to practice driving in this particular vehicle for some time. Big brother or sister will presumably have inherited or purchased a newer vehicle that may be the potential next car owned and operated by the younger sibling. Keeping it in the family--it's all good!
The teenager shares the family car with his parents and/or siblings. In both my family of origin as well as my nuclear family, this arrangement--while not the best case scenario--worked well with our respective family dynamics. While this requires patience and a certain amount of vehicle jockeying, the plus side was that it enabled us to pay for and thus own outright our vehicles in a shorter amount of time. This would not be the ideal situation for a larger family, but even in my family of origin where a single mom raised six kids all by herself and owned only one car, we all pitched in and found a way to make it work.
With hard-earned savings from summer jobs and after-school employment, the adolescent is able to either purchase outright a second-hand car or co-sign a loan with his parents to purchase either a new or used car. One of the best gifts parents can give their children doesn't involve giving them anything for free. Rather, it is the gift of teaching them to work hard for the things they want in life. In the long run, they will consider things they diligently strived for to be of greater value and thus worthy of treating with TLC. A closely related phenomenon as well as side benefit is that this mentality carries over into the way they treat other people, especially significant others.
Creative combinations of the above scenarios. The modern family, especially in light of today's topsy turvy economy, is to be commended for its creativity in finding workable solutions for the common challenge of how best to work out vehicular mobility in a society where inflation rules the sticker price for both automobiles and fuel.
Or...none of the above. There are still options available for the vehicle-aspiring and transportation-challenged adolescent. Hitchhiking should be avoided at all times, but you can catch rides with responsible peers and respectable elders. In either case, teenagers need to make their parent(s) aware and secure permission first before catching rides with others.
America's small towns and cities alike are blessed with great transportation services that include buses, taxis, shuttle rides, light rails, cable cars, subways, and trains.
Bringing It All Together--My eBay Car Lot
Okay, so we've taken a hypothetical look at how man's love for speed may have found a way to become fused with the pull of nostalgia.
And then we slowed things down a bit as we traveled through a school zone and pondered how young people might acquire that ever important first vehicle.
Unless you just had cataract surgery, you may have noticed the vintage print ads gracing the top and the right margin of this article. These are samples of the dozens of original automobile advertisements that are either currently listed or have sold in my eBay store, Lords of the Fly.
Not surprisingly, ephemera-- paper items such as vintage print ads--featuring cars is a very popular niche on eBay. For one thing, there's this cross-gender, multi-dimensional, poly-generational ambience of automotive power wedded to nostalgic pull. In addition, the art or photographic prints that grace and complement the advertising text often border on the magnificent. One must remember that vintage ads were, for the most part, created long before the Internet and computer technology existed. Vintage print ads, especially those in highly specialized and competitive categories such as automobile ads, were created by very talented agencies whose primary function was to instantly capture the fleeting attention of the general public. If the ad agencies could hold your attention, chances were good that the car companies would soon be holding your money.
For two-thirds of a year now, I've been selling vintage print ads on eBay. Objectively, I've made my share of mistakes. That said, however, I can honestly say those mistakes have been profitable lessons for me. As I continue to improve in my marketing techniques, one thing holds true: I never have to work too hard at selling the automobile ads.
The reason is simple.
Man's universal love for the adrenaline rush of power and speed, coupled with the mighty undertow of the heart known as nostalgia, simply create a magnificent and irresistible obsession.
See you on the boulevard!
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