// never judge a book by its cover

I want to touch on something tonight that’s been on my mind and my heart for a while in a community that’s brought a lot of joy into my life, but recently has seemed SO toxic and cancerous that it makes me just want to step back and be done with it for good. Most of you reading this post will be reading it with the subject of cars in mind, so by this point, you’ve figured out that the communities that I’m talking about are the car communities… the car enthusiasts of today’s day and age. The car enthusiasts that grew up getting hyped about cars in the Fast and Furious movies. The car enthusiasts that were immersed in the golden era of some of the best advances in automotive engineering we’ve seen. But that seems to be about the only thing that’s moving forward and improving – the cars. Everything else… the shit talking, the hate, the bashing left and right… it gets worse and worse every day. You know… I’m sitting here at my computer, both my dogs laying at my feet, mindlessly watching How I Met Your Mother re-runs on the tv for background noise, and I really am confused and baffled by the ridiculous opinions and hate formed in these “enthusiast” based communities. All I see is people making digs at each other left and right just for a cheap thrill. But for what? Does it serve a purpose?

For those of you reading this that fit the bill, for those of you who wear this shoe proudly, let me ask you something – what good are the things you’re saying and the way you’re talking about others doing anyone? Do you feel fulfilled as you spew this bullshit left and right about people you don’t know, or maybe haven’t given the chance to get to know? Now I ask you this not because I’m a saint in this area, because I sure as hell am not. There are people in this car community that I disliked and hated on for reasons that seem petty and childish now… I was that person. I was you. And then I gave people a chance. I met people that for so long had been nothing more than annoyances in my eyes, and in the last few years, while I’ll still joke around with friends, have realized that maybe… just maybe… giving people a chance before judging who they APPEAR to be, and in many cases who OTHERS make them out to be, is the right thing.

“I’ve tried to race him so many times but no dice.”

“He’s all show, no go.”

“Pussy. Won’t race.”

Just a few of the choice words I’ve seen from the car “community” here in Indianapolis when people talk about seeing Shawn and his beautiful Evo out and about in Indy. How did we get to this point? How did we come to be a community that hates and looks down on people that don’t put themselves and their cars in danger just for a cheap thrill?

I get it… street racing in fun. It’s in our DNA as car enthusiasts for God’s sake. It’s an adrenaline rush to hear the rush of blood in your ears as you’re shoved backwards into your seat as the accelerator slams to the floor after that third honk… but do we so easily forget the family that lost their lives not long ago due to the carelessness and recklessness of “one of our own” who, in the grand scheme of things, got off with nothing more than a slap on the wrist? Do we continue craving more and more adrenaline that we get to the point where we’re bashing people for NOT joining in on that adrenaline high? At the end of the day, it’s a drug for some people, but if it’s your drug don’t get mad at others when they choose not to partake.

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Shawn for a short while, and it comes without saying that he epitomizes the true car enthusiasts. The enthusiast working tirelessly on his car AND his friends cars to see dreams come true. He works incredibly hard at a hospital changing peoples’ lives with a many times thankless job. He keeps his head down, works hard, stays humble, and above all else, he’s respectful and kind to people.

You want to be a better person tomorrow than the person you’re looking in the mirror at right now? Take a page out of Shawn’s book and stop judging others by what you perceive as the cover.

© dustin kessler