It doesn’t feel like baseball season. Sure, I see the game recaps on my phone, I could watch my team play on TV, and I’m hearing news about players’ antics. But I haven’t heard the crack of the bat on my car radio during a long commute home from work.
That’s what baseball season has always been to me – a long drive filled with announcers talking about obscure statistics, fans cheering in the background, and the occasional crack of a hard-hit ball.
The pandemic is changing a lot of people’s relationships with their cars. Those of us fortunate enough to have jobs that allow us to work remotely are spending less on gasoline, getting breaks from insurers, and going longer between oil changes. Yet our cars are more important than ever.
I love my wife and daughter, and getting to spend more time with them has been the best benefit of working remotely. And my connection to my beagle/basset hound mix (we call her a bagel) has gotten so deep that if I walk to the mailbox without her, she treats my return like being reunited with someone lost at sea for decades. However, I still need time outside of the house.
There’s a butcher shop nearly an hour away that sells beef back ribs like the ones I grew up with in Texas? Well, I guess it’s time to introduce my family to another form of barbecue. There’s a specialty shop two towns over that sells dried chilies and corn husks for making tamales? Well of course I need to go there.
The auto industry has always sold the promise of transportation, the ability to get you where you need to go. The pandemic-induced lockdowns are showing us that cars and trucks are also great for getting away from everything.
A former colleague of mine recently wrote an article about how the pandemic is changing how builders design houses and apartments. They’re leaving more space for home offices or nooks within larger public spaces that can offer temporary privacy. A similar rearrangement of vehicle interiors will likely happen.
Given how many people are seeking refuge by getting on the road, I’d imagine that sound performance will become more popular than cup holders. Pickups have long been marketed as mobile offices with file storage systems, Internet connectivity, and power plugs for printers or other devices. Those sorts of amenities may filter down to crossovers and sedans.
Some companies have already begun touting the effectiveness of their cabin air filtration systems to keep drivers safe from disease, and that will most certainly continue. Convertibles – those may get harder to sell. And, I’m sure there are many changes coming that I haven’t imagined.
As long as I can still hear that hard-hit fly ball to center that just may clear the fence from that future car’s speakers, it’ll feel like baseball season again.