Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Monday, April 13, 2009

Right tool, right job

The first thing to understand is that the Kenan-Flagler parking deck is full of cars of people who had good-but-not-great entry jobs, and who quit them last year.  So you tend to see 3-4 year old Hondas, Toyotas, etc.  You also see a few cars that obviously date to somebody's undergrad days - older SUVs, fraying Mazdas.  THere's also a solid 25 percent of Lexus, Infinitis, BMWs and the like, that remind you that many of the program's students came from high-end jobs or old money.

and then there are the two essentially identical Porsche Carrera Boxsters.  Both are gorgeous silver, surely 2006 or newer, with killer wheels over bright red brake shoes.

I only realized there were 2 a few months ago when I passed on on the way to my car, then as I drove out saw the second driving in.

I'm sure one is better than the other as Porsches go (turbo or something) but they're both equally slick to look at.

And yet, everytime I see one, I can't help but laigh a bit.  Just what in the hell are you doing with that car?  Campus speedlimit is, like 35 mph on the widest streats, and that's fiction because of traffic, endless speed bumps and kids running out across streets randomly at any time.  Its a campus made for 86 Civics, not 06 Boxsters.  Its a senseless luxury, which is fine, but isn't the killer porsche the senseless luxury you aspire to while you're at MBA school?  Shouldn't the path that takes you to your dream machine be longer than the bridge to the parking deck?

And, funnier still, if you brought your fancy car to campus hoping you'd be known as the Porsche Guy and somebody else showed up with the exact same car.. I mean, its one thing when somebody has the ame trapper keeper, but the same Porsche?

So today, as I've been doing this whole quarter, I wrote my bike in.  Leaving campus on a bike is a joy.  Kenan-Flagler sits above the Dean Dome, on one of the highest rises on UNC's campus.  From the parking lot, it's about a solid 1/2 mile of downhill to the main road, 15-501 (the infamous Tobacco Road that runs straight to Duke).  This 1/2 mile is broken up into 2 quarter-mile runs, one from KFBS, past the Dean Dome and parking lots. down to a stop sign at a central campus street.  The second half is that campus street, which is probably steeper, and is 4 lanes wide and a straight line directly down to 15-501.  The 15-501 intersection, predictably, is a traffic light, and the end of your downhill.  And you're probably braking at the bottom because you get a decent amount of green to get out onto 15-501, but if once its red, it takes FOREVER to turn.

So on my bike today, I cruised down the KFBS driveway.  I was vaguely aware that a car - a VW Passat-like thing, I think - followed me down the hill, but I blew through the stop sign next to the Dean Dome and didn't see it.  As I rolled down toward the main road, I again heard a car behind me, which I assumed was the VW catching up.  With no traffic, I coasted trhough that stop sign, too, onto the main campus raod and pointed straight down the big hill that runs down to 15-501. Its a steep drop, and fun to blast down on a bike.

As I straightened out my line, I glanced ahead and saw the light - a solid 1/4 mile away down the hill - was green.  This didn't matter to me since it would take me a solid minute to coast down there, and I would be content to wait once I got there for another green, so I laid off the pedals and just let the bike run.  This was mythought as I heard the VW gun around the corner behind me.

And keeps gunning.

From a buzz to a growl to a howl and closing fast and- WHAM- a silver Porsche Carrera blows by me at about, oh, 50, and rather than shift of just lift a bit, the engine keeps winding upward into a scream and as it jets away I realize that with 1/4 mile to go and the light already late in the green, he's not interested in waiting out the cycle.

And now it's yellow. And he's - maybe - 1/2 way down the hill.  no brake lights.  no shift, no lift, just a louder, higher engine scream coming back to me as the car sprints faster, farther down the hill.

brake light on.  red light signal.  brake light off.  the car jinx with one more little leap of throttle into the intersection, glides through a diving left turn across the empty intersection and he.  is.  Gone.

As I coasted down the hill, i threw my fist up in salute.

Really, there's never a good reason to own a Porsche.  Until there is.