I had a meeting at the Beverly Hills Four Seasons hotel recently which is not my normal hangout. As I pulled into the valet parking in my 2006 Dodge Magnum station wagon, I almost broke my neck as I twisted and turned to get a good look at the line up of absolutely BEAUTIFUL cars parked in a neat row along the front driveway. A fully restored Barrett-Jackson worthy Classic Car Cadillac dazzled in the sunlight, a Ferrari Testarossa and a Bentley. I was a hopelessly smitten car girl, eyes drinking in the unexpected mini luxury car show.
I hurriedly grab my favorite black shiny Harvey's Mercedes Seatbelt Bag off the passenger seat; take the parking ticket from the valet driver as he asks, "Are you checking in?” I say, "No, I have a meeting here." He looks at me one eyebrow up with a question mark clearly on his face as I grabbed my parking ticket and dashed inside to powder my nose quickly so I could get right back outside to get a photo of that incredible Vintage Cadillac. I just miss the object of my car girl affection and only catch a glimpse as the tail lights disappear around the corner.
Disappointed, I walked back to the very posh ladies room to finish adjusting my hair and make-up before my meeting. It was very hot in Beverly Hills that day so I came dressed very summer business casual, perhaps a bit too casual and underdressed but comfort vs style on hot days for 50+ menopausal me, made the final decision on what to wear. Sweat is rolling down my back, so I grab one of the white Turkish luxury weave hand towels to pat myself dry, 10 points for the Four Seasons for providing this female -friendly nicety. A well dressed refined looking women comes in while I'm drying off, stops and looks straight at me for several seconds, I smile at her , she does not say a word or smile back then abruptly turns and goes into a stall, (strange I think to myself what her problem?). I finish primping and saunter out and into the cocktail lounge to wait for my business associate to arrive.
As I make my way through the crowded lounge, wearing my new J.Jill perfectly coordinated powder blue and black summer outfit including the matching black Nine West sandal flats with freshly manicured soft pink toe nails, I look around for a place to sit. Much to my chagrin, literally every women looks up, purposely eyes me up and down and head to toe and has this weird facial expression like; “Hey YOU! This is Beverly Hills and it is perfectly fine for me to be obvious about checking you out and giving you a rating". A bit undone, uncomfortable and unaccustomed to being aware I was being rated so blatantly by this crowd of pointy toe shoe'd women dressed in St Johns summer knits sipping Martini's at 12 o’clock on a work day, I decide to walk back out to the lobby to make some phone calls and get out of the line of sight. At least I wanted to look like I was making calls. I found a nice sheltered view of the front door and waited.
Standing in the lobby of the Beverly Hills Four Seasons Hotel, Treo in hand, the vignette continues to unfold. Each and every person that enters the lobby walks by turns and looks me over head to toe and seems to be making some mental judgment on what I am struggling to understand about what???? Are they thinking, "What is SHE doing here? My anxiety level starts rising so I tell myself I am being ridiculous and shove down the rising uncomfortable feelings to keep my composure in tact for my meeting. I travel often and much of the time in pretty high level social circles with ease, I tell myself that the heavy traffic and rush to be on time is causing stress and to take a deep breath and try to relax and enjoy this lovely location. Actually those who know me know that I am not THAT self conscious about my appearance, honest!
My TREO beeps and I answer only to hear my appointment canceled at the last minute! Irritated, I go back outside to collect my Dodge Magnum station wagon from the valet.
Stepping out to the valet desk with my ticket he tells me it will be $12.00 and asks, "What kind of car", I say, "Red Dodge Magnum station wagon". The woman standing right behind me giggles. He asks me again, looking confused. “What kind of car is that again?"? I say louder, thinking he did not hear me, "A RED DODGE MAGNUM STATION WAGON". Two people behind me laugh out loud! I flush with embarrassment, now I get it; my Dodge Magnum station wagon is not the typical car using the valet parking at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills.
Breaking into a menopausal hot flash from the momentary embarrassment my bright red Dodge Magnum station wagon is promptly pulled up front by the valet. Steadying myself, I walk stiffly towards my car, feeling all eyes burning holes into my back. Nervously, I fumble around in my bag for a tip. Geez, is $2.00 enough here I wonder? Flustered and struggling to not completely lose my composure, I shove the $2.00 tip into his hand, force a smile, say thank you and get in.
Car girl has epiphany:
The car you drive plays a very visible part in your unique personal branding image, like it or not.
From the inexpensive Chevrolet Aveo 5 Sedan with a MSRP of $10, 560.00 to the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren priced at a whopping $452,000.00, what we drive just like where you live, job title, educational degree, university attended, role in the family, who we date, house and neighborhood we live in and the label on our clothes is creating the brand - YOU.
I drive a Dodge Magnum station wagon for very practical and good reasons, I often transport my disabled son to doctors appointments and need a vehicle that will accommodate his wheelchair, entry and exit needs and often cart around my three dogs and one or more of my five grand children! My bright red Dodge Magnum station wagon has dark tinted windows and lots of chrome and is in my opinion is one of the hippest, most fuel efficient vehicles one can own that suited my lifestyle needs perfectly. I love the reaction when I park in the disabled parking with my son's disabled parking placard prominently hanging on the rear view mirror. I don't think people expect disabled persons to pop out of vehicles that are practical, hip and so totally cool looking!
Image Credit: AskPatty