July 7, 2020

The Power of Positive Comments

Illustration by George Danby

Illustration by George Danby

• By John F. Chisholm •

I’m positive that the Daimler is a thing of beauty, something that people enjoy seeing, a mechanical marvel that provides in-depth education to those who seek it.

How can I be so sure?

An old man showed me.

The vast majority of the comments I hear are questions.

One of the more common is, “Do you show it?”

I do.  The opening paragraph tells why.  But in addition the car is registered as an antique.  That means I can only drive it to, from and during shows and organized club tours.  Sure, I stretch that a bit.  Anyone would.  I have to drive it to tune it as well as back and forth from maintenance appointments ― those that I don’t complete myself ― and so on.

People also ask me if I enjoy the shows.  That answer is more reserved.

“Most of them.”

That’s because reactions to the Daimler run up and down an entire spectrum.  The vast majority of the commentary is entertaining but at times it’s sad hearing what people say.

At the top are the ‘Oh my God’ reactions.  These are people genuinely delighted to see the car and hear all about it.

It’s fun talking with them.  They want to learn.  I’m happy answering.  I’ve met some great people with fascinating perspectives.

Next are those who deliberately tone down their responses because drool is so-o-o-o uncool.  Their questions are invariably brief.  “What year?”  “Where’d you get it?”  “What is it?”

These people may be gruff but at least they’re polite
I’m polite in return.  I tend toward the flip replying to that, ‘What is it?’ question.  I get it a lot so I’m apt to mention, “It’s a car.  Surely you’ve seen one before?  I mean, even way up here in Maine, most people have seen a car by this time.”

That usually elicits laughter and conversation can proceed more naturally and relaxed from there.

Unfortunately, I get negative responses, too.  They’re usually monetary.  “What’d that run ya?”  “Must be nice!”  “Wish I had money to burn.”  “What did ya?  Rob a bank?”   I ignore these comments.  They’re not really questions but veiled accusations.  Never mind.  My attitude is simple.  If you can’t enjoy fabulous machinery without putting a price tag on it, there isn’t much anyone can say.  I try very hard not to let these comments ruin the day.

Unfortunately, I hear the flat-out derisive, too.  Oddly, these usually are statements:  “Bet ya stole that.”  “It’s been re-motored, ya know.”  (It hasn’t.  Except for an after-market camshaft ― which came in the car when I got it ―  the engine in my Daimler is completely original.)

I can only lament.  These people appear afflicted; ‘If I can’t have it, nobody else is gonna enjoy it either.’  What an attitude.

It leaves me baffled.  Thinking about it, I believe that’s their purpose.  Because training yourself to ignore negativity is difficult.  But I have enough experience with these comments now to hope.  Looking back, I’m certain that their effect is temporary.  It fades.

That’s my point.  That’s why I writing this.  I want everyone to know.

Whatever it is that you’re showing, remember that negativity is short-lived and, at the last, ineffective.  You won’t recall the people who use it, their faces or discontent a month from now.

I’m proud to report that it’s the positive that’s remembered, that endures.  The smiles, friendly banter and compliments are what stay with you.

At last year’s Owl’s Head Transportation Museum’s British Car Show I watched an old man in a wheelchair illuminate at seeing my car.  His daughter pushed him closer.  His joy emanated to all around him.  “Why that’s a Daimler,” he quavered, pointing a gnarled finger.  “I haven’t seen one of those in years.”  He looked at me.  “You own this?”

I nodded.

“These are fabulous cars.  I remember when they were introduced.”  He pursed his lips, inclining his head.  “I’ve always wanted one.  I thought the last must have disappeared years ago.  It’s great knowing that they’re still around.”

“It’s great knowing that you are,” I responded.  Hearing from someone who remembers when the SP-250s came out is always a treat.

Looking back, his answering smile still lights that day.

I smile remembering.  That’s how I know it’s joy that’s remembered.  He was the old man who showed me.

In fact, he’s why I’m positive.