The moment I sat behind the steering wheel of my mother’s car – I knew that a never ending love affair had begun. There was something almost surreal about turning the key, hearing the engine come to life and maneuvering this amazing machine with only a push of the pedal and guiding of the wheel.
Driving gave me a sense of freedom and adventure. It didn’t really matter the age or make of the model – I just wanted to get out and drive. Being out on the open road, turning the curves of country roads or making my way through interstate and bypass traffic seemed to compliment any mood I’m in. If I’m down, then taking a drive lifts my spirits. When I’m happy, cruising down the road and singing to my favorite songs helps carry that throughout my day. Stress seems to also take a backseat to the enjoyment of driving. When the kids were younger – taking a drive seemed to calm them down.
All those years ago, when I first began to drive, I was told that it would eventually become old. Yet, to me, it is still amazing. I have even had the privilege of attending special test driving events. My favorite event was a trip to California a couple of years ago where I was able to test drive the then soon to be released 2011 Honda Odyssey. I was treated to an afternoon of driving the vehicle throughout the city as well as on a test course. There I had the opportunity to push this vehicle to its limits with the help of professional drivers. That was an amazing day!
I recently had another amazing day. I was given the opportunity to go behind the scenes and see Honda vehicles being manufactured locally! I loved seeing the process of every detail coming together to create a vehicle. Seeing dashboards receive all of their elements, seeing the body of vehicles being painted and seeing the windows being installed was simply amazing! (How many times can I say ‘amazing’ in this post?)
Getting to tour the facility and having such a love for vehicles – I was probably much like a kid would be in a kitchen where delicious candies are being made. I spent a Summer in college working in a plant where we made small parts for vehicles - there I spent a lot of time imagining how these tiny parts were then assembled into the final product.
While on the tour, I had a chance to take a few minutes to chat with Cindy Kramer, mom to a precious 1 year old boy. Cindy says she loves working at Honda Manufacturing of Indiana – they have great benefits and she likes the care that the company takes of its employees. Honda Manufacturing of Indiana began full operation in 2008 and has added 2,000 jobs to the area. They currently produce 1,000 vehicles per year: the Civic Sedan, Civic Natural Gas and Acura ILX.
When we began the tour, we started “at the beginning”. Meaning, we started where parts were coming into the plant and being routed to the location where they would be combined with other parts and eventually leave the line as an entire and fully functional vehicle. Everyone worked busily and efficiently whether they were moving parts to their destination or on the line installing the important elements and luxuries we have come to expect in our car.
It was neat to see seats, dashboards and more making their way down the line – being examined and then installed. It was fantastic to see each process building on another. Eventually I made my way down the line to see Civics being driven out of the plant – a complete product.
Maybe it’s just my love for vehicles – but I think that would be a very interesting place of employment. Personally, I’d want the job of test driving the vehicles after they’re assembled! Yes, there is a track where they are test driven!
I like to imagine that these vehicles have made their way to owners who are enjoying the freedom of being behind the wheel just as much as I do. Maybe they are making their way into the hands of a newly licensed driver who begins their love affair with the automobile.