The Fast and the Friendly

In the spring of 2009, I was at the Monday South meet with Marc. This meet tends to be mostly Honda Civics and other, slower cars.

Near the end of the meet, Marc told me he was ready to take off. I agreed that it was time to go, so I got in my car and started her up. Marc began to get into his car as well, when two young men approached him and struck up a conversation. A friend of Marc’s, who Marc was going to take home, rolled his eyes and walked over to me. He whispered that the men were missionaries telling Marc about Jesus Christ.

I shut my car off and got out. I looked around and noticed a large group of people across the parking lot. I could hear some yelling and confrontational language. A fight was about to break out between two Latinos who seemed very upset. Their friends were holding them back from one another.

Marc had his back to the situation, so I walked up to him to let him know what was going on. “Oh man,” he said, “I hate it when two people I’m friends with get into a fight. I might have to go over there if things get out of hand.” First, however, Marc had to extricate himself from the missionaries. He explained to them that while he respects their religious beliefs, he prefers to follow his own spirituality.

As Marc made his way over to the crowd, the argument continued to escalate. The missionaries followed, and I commented, “You know that’s Marc, the fastest guy in town, right?” “That’s Marc?” They were very surprised. I continued, “I know you all have good intentions in what you wanted to say to him, but you should really watch and listen to what he’s about to do. I think you’re going to learn a lot about how helping others can happen without religion.”

While I was saying all of this, Marc went over to one of the two guys and was holding him back and calming him down. The guys were still exchanging angry words, but Marc, cigarette in hand, just kept them separate and continued calmly talking them both down. The two missionaries stood there, watching, and I got the impression they weren’t quite sure what to make out of the situation. Finally, the guy Marc was holding back seemed to relax, so Marc found someone else to handle him, then went over to the other guy to talk to him.

It was really interesting to watch him work. Here was a relatively small guy holding back a three-hundred pound Latino due to the fact that he’s the fastest guy in town. The social and cultural capital at play in the situation was fascinating to observe.

After a while, Marc walked back to where our cars were parked and said, “Let’s head out.” I got in my car, he and his friend got into his, and we were off. I don’t know how the situation resolved itself after we left, but the enormous influence Marc had over the social situation due to his cultural capital and what his friend described as a “Zen-like attitude” was quite a sight to see.