Recently, I ran into a couple of situations that left me scratching my head. While standing around passing the time with some enthusiasts, we started talking about the qualities of a good vehicle. We all agreed that a person should have their four-wheel-drive vehicle in the best operating condition it can be in before it hits the trail. Not only is this a major safety concern, but it's also being considerate. Considerate in the respect that unless you and your buddies love wrenching on your vehicle under really crummy conditions and tying up the trail, it shouldn't be out there unless it is capable of moving itself on and off the trail. I know some guys live for this type of trail repair fun, but I bet the majority of enthusiasts just enjoy rolling down the trail.
Obviously, things break, but hitting the trail knowing your rig isn't up to snuff just isn't right. Think of the guys who are going to have to help you off the trail and the wheeling that they are going to miss all because basic maintenance was neglected. A little regular maintenance goes a long way. Like most people, I too am guilty of occasionally neglecting some vehicle maintenance tasks, and I've been called on it; luckily however, I haven't broken down out on the trail yet. Knock on wood.
What started out as a lighthearted conversation on vehicle maintenance and trail etiquette quickly turned into a bashing session of poorly designed rigs these guys had seen on the trail. Some of these clowns proudly confessed that they had openly made snide comments about the vehicles in front of their owners. What great stories - for them at least.
For a moment there, I thought I was participating in and witnessing firsthand some very real and childish web forum bashing.
I can clearly remember the day I brought home my very first car and my friends asked me, "What in the hell are you going to do with that? Your parents are going to get a ticket from the city."
To me it didn't matter what kind of condition it was in. It was mine, and it was the coolest thing I owned at the time. I couldn't help but feel a twinge of anger and disappointment at their comments about my new best friend. All along I knew someday that they would all stand around in amazement at my handiwork and say, "Dude, that's a bitchin car!"
In everyone's mind their first car may not have always been their best car or 4x4, but there is always some sort of sentimental attachment for most of us. Keeping this in mind, I chuckle to myself when I see a young kid at the local auto parts store ogling the new part he's obviously purchasing for his first vehicle. I am tempted to offer advice, but I figure the best way to learn about a vehicle is to break it then fix it. I really want to step in when some smartass parts counter person feels it's necessary to exert his vastly superior automotive knowledge over this young enthusiast.
What I am getting at is that no matter how difficult it may be to overcome taking a guy down a notch or two because their rig may not be the best-engineered vehicle, put yourself in his position and think back to your first car or 4x4. We all know there is a sentimental attachment between man and steel, so give the guy a break, take a pill, and let him enjoy his rig. We all started somewhere.
I mention all this because I've heard some real horror stories about people verbally assaulting others on the trail, even physically assaulting them to the point of throwing rocks and bottles. I have to think these incidents are extremely few and far between, but I've spoken with people who have witnessed them.So keep it cool and leave your issues at home or on the chat boards, because we are all in this together and it's supposed to be fun.