At your service…

We live in hierarchies and we all know where we stand, right? 
Tallest? Best looking? Wealthiest? Funniest? Most successful…
What we do for a living; from the vaunted professions down… we are all workers with our names either on our shirts, our desks, the office door or finally on the building itself.
The road is a good metaphor for hierarchy and specifically the motorway or the highway.
Because what car you drive is so much more than just a mode of movement and travelling. 
Your ride is a statement. 
A muscle car with excessive and overly aggressive exhaust. Anyone?
No, me neither. 
Or what about a vintage car as a marker down, with its trade-off between looking good but not starting.
Or the convertible car – for people who don’t like chatting but do like flies. 
The sports car of course. The gleaming Ferrari or the dark and menacing Porsche. Although here in the UK with speed cameras as prevalent as speed humps, I can only imagine the frustration at paying extra for speed that is impossible to use. 
And then the veritable daddy of them all; the Rolls Royce. The ultimate status symbol on the road.
Rich, important person coming through. Get the f*** out of my way. 
A house is a great indicator of status. And speaking of hierarchies, with our Prince Harry becoming plain old Harry Wales and moving to LA, the media have revelled in explaining the value of Tyler Perry’s house that was their stop gap before they found a cake of their own. 
But a house is static. It can’t be seen and shown off when we are out and about – unless we take a realtors brochure with us to show people. 
And so then, the car is a mobile demonstration of wealth and status. And as such the Rolls Royce Phantom ($400,000) is sort of like a mobile home? Albeit neither Mr Rolls nor Mr Royce would thank me for this association – but you know what I mean?
And a hierarchy on the road also…  
The fast lane for the fast people. The people who are frenetic and go-get. And presumably for those who are late also.
The middle lane for the plodders. The Steady Eddies who will arrive safely and in-time but so what – because they’re never gonna light up any room. 
And then the slow lane of course, for the elderly and the petrified. The drivers who are not restricted by any speed limits. 70 miles per hour is an option not a requirement.  
All of these things… what we drive and how we drive are signals of who we are – which is why I so enjoy the motorway service station so much – where suddenly we all the same. 
At the services, we are all just motorists who need a break. To stretch our legs. To possibly fill one tank and almost certainly to empty another. Men of a certain age might even take the opportunity to do the emptying twice. Before coffee and after.
And unlike airports, the motorway service station is hierarchy free. 
There is no first class lounge. 
In a service station, we all muck in together. A melting pot of humanity. Cheek by jowl (pre and post covid, obviously) the great unwashed next to the highly preened and sanitised. 
In the service station and on foot, the status imbued by our car is gone. 
Mr Rolls without his ride is now just an ordinary Joe like you and I, although he might still be identifiable. He might have nicer shoes. An expensive watch perhaps but he doesn’t get a special place to pee. He uses the exact same toilet facilities as the rest of us. No heated seat or attendant to shake anything here. And in my experience, it is best not stare too closely at someone in a public lavatory and especially not at a man’s wrist. 
There are other giveaways of Mr Rolls. He is less likely to join the snaking queue for KFC or McDonalds. 
In the UK, we have large warning signs aligning our roads – TIREDNESS KILLS. TAKE A BREAK.
But in the longer term, so can fast food laden with saturated fat but I keep this to myself as I pick up my sandwich and my cup of coffee. 
A coffee smug, perhaps? 
And this is why I enjoy the motorway service station. For its sense of representation and being such a leveller. Where we are all the same no matter who we are or what our means. 
And then back on the road again, in my sensible car and in the slow or middle lane, I know that the Ferrari I spotted parked up will soon come by flashing by me; a blur of throbbing red in the fast lane and screaming for everyone’s attention. And I too, duly pay homage.  Because for sure, this is a car of beauty and something to behold. And who can detract from the magnificent engineering and history of such a marque.
But ahead is a speed camera you Bell-End and I hope you get pinged.
And with this – Snap – we are back in the hierarchy again. 
And life goes on…


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9 thoughts on “At your service…

  1. Vanessa says:

    The blog as always very good, and the truth is that I am already tired of labels, prejudices and worrying if you are going to fit in or not, we have to change this.

    • Raquel Medina says:

      Excellent blog, I am a new reader and I loved his way of exaggerating with the texts, and he is so right with the hierarchy, it is sad to know that you are worth what you have in your pocket and not for what you keep in mind

  2. Sydnee Coleman says:

    I really do love your blogs, Mr. H, they make me laugh. I did a lot of traveling as a child, moving from state to state and well I’ve seen my fair share of gas stations(as we call them). And the lovely people you meet in there, I’ve also love the stories they tell, just like you. Everyone has a story to tell. Now with the speeding cameras and tickets, on a Rolls Royce, the world and karma come full circle.

  3. Óscar says:

    Hola Mr Dominic
    Como cada domingo me traes una historia, que no sólo llena de razón si no que además disfruto enormemente leyéndola, muchas gracias por ser así de constante con tus lectores.
    Un saludo desde España

  4. Regina says:

    As someone who as moved across country three times and travelled one half of the US extensively, this post connected at a special level. Rest stops, I think, provide the most honest view of humanity because there is no hierarchy and we are all so incredibly human at them. The mutual exhaustion, the fact that none of us belong there (they are almost like independent sovereignties) and finally our collective need to pee are great levelers of all those carefully constructed hierarchies.

  5. Beth says:

    I’m on my Learner’s Lisence and yesterday went for my first major drive (almost 6hrs), but 1 hour into the trip and the tank only had 50km left in her, so- like you said- you stop at the service station. We’d fuelled up and Dad was going to pay, and then this car that looked to be from the 50s or 60s revved up behind me. They were pretty intimidating, giving me the inclining they had (or better off wanted) to be somewhere in a hurry, so I was going to be nice and move the car forward so he could use the tank… but where were the keys and why was it taking 15mins for bloody paying? The man didn’t seem all too impressed. By the time Dad got back he saw the other driver wasn’t too happy so we moved forward ASAP… only for the driver to do a U-turn and leave of course. Great thought provoker, guess we take the servos for granted… or at least some do

  6. Rachel Conrad says:

    I felt personally attacked by your statement on middle lane Steady Eddies. 🙂
    I really really liked this blog, and I thought it had some very funny jokes.
    I really liked your analogy as well. It’s fun to feel like you’re just like everybody else every once in a while.
    Now, I feel like I need to grab a snack at QuikTrip (United States midwestern service station). Service station food is something else!
    Great blog!

  7. Nataly Cervantes says:

    I really liked this blog Mr. Dominic, it is very real, a reminder that in the end we are just people on wheels, people with dreams and goals, but in the end just one more than millions

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