Nostalgia alert: I grew up listening to Click and Clack on Car Talk.
Tom and Ray grew up poor but made it to MIT. Their show celebrated the diversity of America in a way that I fear is being lost. They took calls from every nook and cranny of America, from the obviously well-heeled to the "wackos" as they would affectionately call them.
Car Talk showed us how Americans lived: a college student who can't decide whether to upgrade his beater so he can visit his girlfriend across Ohio, or a doctor who is trying to keep his MG alive despite the protests of his practically-minded wife.
Many times the brothers would tangle themselves up in the minutiae of the car in question, fighting to figure out a way to help a single mom in Spokane with two kids from having to trade in for a payment she couldn't really afford.
In America, cars have been the common cultural touchstone. What does it mean to drive a convertible? Or a mini-van? How about an older sedan with fading paint but a great engine that still starts every morning in the Vermont winter? Is a pick-up truck ironic, or a show of masculinity? On Car Talk, all of the ways Americans relate to cars were on display.
Cars our often are means of making a living. We often look to our car to either change or reinforce our identity. They can express liberation and a fresh start, or be a heavy yoke when money is tight. In a country so in love with the autonomy of the open road, they are part of our American story.
Ray Magliozzi and his late brother Tom treated all with great respect and good-natured humor through not only giving practical advice, but also coaching listeners on how to think about problems as a world-class engineer would.
Though they were already in reruns, his voice will be missed. Rest In Peace, Click.
With a Perspective, I'm Elliott Adams
Elliott Adams teaches at Hult International Business School.