Confessions of a 4WD Brand Slave
(The following article originally appeared on a web publication resource and its inclusion here is solely for light entertainment).
I had to check the urban dictionary to reassure myself I hadn’t become what I loathe most – a brand slave.
Attending a four wheel drive event in June I had cast an eye across a mud strewn hill and it occurred to me. We all look identical.
The dictionary confirmed what I suspected ‘Brand Slave… a person who will only purchase or consume a product based on its social standing and socially recognized status, regardless of taste, function or style…’
And then I realized that I could never be a brand slave because I simply make good buying decisions.
I looked down at the shirt I was wearing and sure enough, there in big white letters – RICHYEAR ROCKWRESTLER RUBBER. The badge, the token, the sign that I fitted in, that I was normal and that I silently understood that as long as I clung to the formula - that I too would be acknowledged as a competent four wheel driver.
As long as I keep buying the ‘right’ products then it really doesn’t matter what my offroad abilities and experiences are. My 4WD just looks right sitting in the driveway. There were only two vehicles I could own and be able to call myself a real bush warrior. I researched carefully, assessed the pros and cons of each vehicle, took note of what Bert over the road owned and then went out and bought the identical car.
But no dealer accessorizing for me, no sir. I invested in the base model; the ‘pauper pack’, a blank canvas as it were. This was my launch pad to to dirt nirvana - the start of the weekend scouring of 4WD accessory shops and the wholesale consumption of every offroad publication in existence.
And like everyone else I began with the rubber. New shiny aluminium wheels and fat lumpy ‘Rockwrestler’ tyres with the embossed white lettering on the sidewalls. The car seems to make more road noise now and the steering seems a bit heavier but they should be sensational if I ever get around to taking them on the beach.
Next came the obligatory bullbar mounted electric winch for extracting the unit from any particularly nasty carparks and an aluminium roofrack was added to carry a 20 litre jerry can of diesel up top. No one told me that the kids that live on the other side of town would siphon it and spill diesel down the paintwork so now I just drive around with it empty. The car holds 200 litres of fuel anyway and that’s plenty for getting around town.
Nick from Dirt Drivers Paradise in the shopping centre convinced me that I should carry a decent ‘Unichat’ UHF citizens band radio in case I got bogged or broke down. Another $500 but I can now talk to like minded 4WD type people while parked in my driveway and the spring mounted aerial looks great. The car doesn’t fit under the MacDonald’s drive-thru any more but hey; it’s a small price to pay. This 4WD fits in where it counts.
Doris was struggling a bit with the new heavy duty, double stitched, ‘Mud Pig’ canvas seat covers. She says the old velour ones were more comfortable but she came around when I pointed out that Larry from the 4WD Club had used them on a club run from Sydney to Melbourne last year and the seats never got any dirt on them at all.
If it wasn’t for the fact that we have three teenage kids I could afford a heap of additional accessories and add-ons and get the old girl really looking the part. But you know kids have got to wear a Billabong Sweater and Nike shoes. Always have to have the same expensive clothes that everyone else is wearing.
My old man always said he would never be someone else’s advertising billboard and if he was going to wear a name on his chest then they’d better be paying him for the privilege or at least giving him the product for free.
Not like kids today - slaves to the label I say. Slaves to the label.
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