Having spent many hours on the open road over the last week, I’ve realized what a great microcosm of humanity the highway can be. All the personalities we come across in everyday life are out there, entering and exiting the asphalt at all hours, channeling their temperaments into their automobiles as they drive. The point of driving, of course, is to get from point A to point B. The goal is to get where you’re going safely and in one piece, but that’s not necessarily the pure ambition of each motorist. It reminds me so much of my experience in the booze business dealing with consumers.
Much like driving, the point of drinking is very simple: alcohol creates an effect in our bodies that intoxicates our senses and makes us feel good. The goal is to enjoy yourself and have a good time while you imbibe, but that’s not necessarily the pure ambition of each drinker. If you think of the speed of a traveling car as equivalent to price of a bottle, some of the similarities are quite noteworthy.
For example, I’m at the age now where I know exactly what I like and what I want when it comes to alcohol. I know what I’m willing to pay, and what I’m not for that experience. The same goes for my driving. I’m neither a slow poke, nor a speed racer. I’m comfortable with a speed between 75 – 80 mph and if you want to go faster, I’ll happily get out of your way. However, I’m pretty sure that the guy going 65 who refuses to pull over is the same guy who’s used to paying $40 for Blanton’s Bourbon and isn’t going to pay a dollar more, no matter how rare it’s become. If someone else wants to pay $70, let them. He’s not going to budge. Meanwhile, the guy who’s racing down the freeway at 100 mph or more is the same guy who only wants to spend $100 or more on a bottle. He has something big to prove to the world.
I’m also quite certain that the guy darting in and out of every lane, doing whatever he can to get around each and every car, is the same guy who spends all his time running from store to store, brand to brand, trying to get every limited edition bottle he can get. Life is one big giant race for him. It’s not about consistency or enjoyment. It’s about competition. The guy who can’t make up his mind about how fast he wants to drive is the same guy who buys a bottle of whiskey, then returns it a week later after a friend tells him it’s mediocre. If everyone else is driving slowly, he’ll drive slowly. But the second a group of fast drivers comes along, he speeds up as well.
The guy going 60 in the right lane the entire way is the same guy who drinks moderately and only socially. The guy who thinks the left lane is for driving rather than passing is the same guy who thinks he should be able to buy rare bottles whenever he wants them, oblivious to the needs or desires of others. The guy who speeds up when you try to pass him is the same guy who’s afraid to look stupid for drinking the wrong thing. He doesn’t want to be embarrassed in front of others.
I could go on, but you get the point. As Tom Cochrane once sang: “Life is a highway.” Unlike Tom Cochrane, I do not want to ride it all night long. Sometimes five hours is more than enough humanity for me.