Have you ever needed to get away from your job in the middle of the day? Perhaps you’ve hit a roadblock, perhaps that roadblock is a coworker (every job has at least one), or perhaps you just need a change of scenery. If you answered “no,” I’m happy for you. For the other 99% of us, I have a solution: lunch-break shenanigans of the automotive variety!
What started as a quick lap walking around the office building—or my house, on those work-from-home days—in order to clear my head has evolved. Since I typically eat lunch at my desk, I thought Why not use the 30 to 60 minutes to take a break, change gears, and do something I love? A drive, a small automotive project, a photo shoot—my happy places. It’s a nice way to recharge and break up a typical day of software development during the work week.
However, if I’m going out for a drive, I much prefer to have a purpose or a goal, as opposed to a destinationless loop. And to quote a friend, it’s important to “take the fun car.” On that topic, I belong to the “Spotted in the DMV” Facebook group with nearly 12,000 other enthusiasts in the DC-Maryland-Virginia area. Just as the group name suggests, members spot rare and interesting vehicles, take a photo, and post it to the Internet. I learned of the group when I was tagged in a post while driving my ‘91 318iS.
The point of this tangent is that group members will frequently spot a vehicle parked at a hardware store and comment, “Why would someone take a [insert your favorite car here] to Home Depot!?” Because they took the fun car, that’s why! They wanted an excuse to get out and drive, so buying some hardware for a fire-extinguisher mount was a good excuse to take the long way to the store—and a different long way back home.
A fire-extinguisher mount? Yes, that was another lunch-break adventure. Shortly after I purchased my E30 seven years ago, the car sprang an engine-bay fuel leak—which thankfully didn’t cause a fire, but easily could have. Since then I’ve kept fire extinguishers in my vehicles. (And I have replaced the entire fuel system in that E30, but I still keep a fire extinguisher mounted within reach of the driver’s seat for peace of mind.) Keeping with that self-enforced rule, after a few months of E36 M3 ownership, I finally decided to properly mount the fire extinguisher that was loosely tied down in the trunk.
My friend Mike D’Abreu had generously given me an E36 fire-extinguisher mounting bracket, and with the hardware I had acquired on a previous lunch-break excursion, it was time to get down to business. After some bracket trimming and spacer swapping, the fire extinguisher was mounted: mission accomplished and satisfaction achieved.
If I don’t have any errands to run and I want to justify going out for a drive, I play the Photo Shoot card. While I enjoy practicing photography on my own vehicles, in an effort to diversify my automotive subjects, I’ve started to ask friends and fellow BMW CCA members if they can get away (with their cars) for a short time in the middle of the day. You’d be surprised how many decent photo locations are within a couple of minutes from your home or work—a parking lot with a wooded backdrop, a dead-end street, the top floor of a garage, street parking in the city, a tennis bubble, or a field will all do in a pinch.
Last Friday, I had the pleasure of participating in one of the ultimate lunch break activities: BMW’s Ultimate Driving Experience. The coast-to-coast traveling event came to Washington, D.C. and taking a half day off from work just seemed like the right thing to do.
What’s on my schedule for this coming week? A quick oil change, a car wash, and maybe a brake-pad swap. If your schedule will allow it, get out and drive. Row some gears. Carve some corners. Cruise with the windows down. Absorb some vitamin D.
Take the fun car.
If you’re looking for some company, reach out to a fellow BMW CCA member. I’m sure they’d love to join you.—Mike Bevels