Thursday, January 31, 2008

Face It!

Something awfully strange is happening. I am "meeting" people in town and in other towns through virtual reality. I now have "friends" in various cities, though some of them I've never met. I am making online friends with people I've been phoning and emailing for weeks, to no avail. People I would like to connect with for potential job opportunities who would and have otherwise completely blown me off, suddenly want to reveal very personal information to me. I have come face to face with the realization that Facebook is the great communicator of the day and I just don't get it.

Until now I have completed resisted the phenomena that is online networking for many reasons. First of all, it creeps me out to have to/want to share that much personal information with the world. Secondly, if I want to talk to my friends, I call them or send them a personal and confidential email. Thirdly, Facebook was introduced to me by a high school kid as "the coolest way to hook up", which somehow seems highly inappropriate for a mom. Lastly, does anyone really care "what are you doing right now?" if I'm doing the laundry or cutting my son's toenails? (last night's festivities) Must I share that with the world? Oh, did I mention it creeps me out?

Why did I join then? Apparently I was the very last of my seven siblings to sign on. My sisters' weekly invites, pokes (what exactly it is in Facebook world I'm not certain of) and messages to join were relentless. My brother John doesn't even bother to email anymore and insists people "catch him" on Facebook. Even my brother Steve, who can never remember my phone number and who forgets to buy groceries, is a regular. I caved.

I have friends who, in the real world, would barely pass as acquaintances, yet somehow want me to see their wedding photo albums. Colleagues who were satisfying as contacts, now want to know what I've had for breakfast. When will it ever end? I thought perhaps I might get a gig or two, share a laugh with a real friend (note to self - my best friend has not signed on) and keep up with my sister's never-ending camping photos. I still don't get it.

If you're on Facebook and you come across my name, don't poke me or wall me or send a smile or whatever. Call me at home this weekend and we'll chat.

Friday, January 4, 2008

"Tell me about your car!!!"

We all know this town is fairly flush and what better way to say "I'm successful!" than with a flashy, bling-worthy, name-dropping car? There are more Beemers, Jags, Benz and Ranges here than you can shake a stick at. I bet 28203 gives 90210 a run for its money when it comes to automobiles...

Unfortunately, I don't own one of these. My car is the much less desirable, poor-man's Volkswagen otherwise known as an Echo. (mind you, it's the sporty two-door kind) Back in the driveway-challenged metropolis of Toronto, Echos are a wise choice. They are economical, drive well in traffic (we're talking hours of idling here, not minutes) and can fit in the most minute parking spots. We didn't have a driveway or garage back home and welcomed a cheap and cheerful ride that could be left out on the street all night.

Many agree. Echos are really popular in Toronto. Two of my very best friends drive Echos, in fact. So does my step-daughter. I could go on, but won't.

Not surprising though, I haven't seen many Echos here in Charlotte. I think I've seen a total of four in the five months or so that we've been here. What did surprise me though was the reaction I got when I pulled into the driveway of a prospective interviewee in my sporty wannabee sports car.

No sooner had I stepped out of the car when this gentleman exclaimed (and I say this in the nicest way) "Wow! Tell me about your car!!". Now the Echo is rare in these parts but it's not exactly a George Jetson-mobile... I swear this man had never laid eyes on this particular Toyota brand. I didn't really know what to say. "Uh, it's a sporty Echo that gets great gas mileage and can park anywhere" is what I responded with a "everyone in Toronto drives one" for good measure.

As extreme as it sounds, picture this. We are driving down a main thorough fare in Charlotte in a prosperous section of town when we pull up next to a Beemer at a red light. Not only is it brand new, it's got "Sweet Sixteen" and "Happy Birthday" written all over it, like it just pulled off the lot of "Richie Rich's BMW of Lake Norman". What sixteen year old needs a 2007 BMW??? I didn't get my own car until I was 23 and working full-time. Even if my parents had the dough to buy one, I very much doubt they'd sign me up for a brand-spanking, accident magnet car.

My 2001 beater (fully paid off, I might add) with it's unidentifiable Canadian plates has become a sort of badge of honor. It puzzles people. Machines too. Once, a couple of months back as I pulled out of the parking garage at the airport, the parking attendee stopped to ask me which state it was from. I told her PEI. The computer didn't recognize it and settled on PA instead. Ha! It's not only sporty, but mysterious too.