Jeff Ford
August 1, 2002

You ever think back to when you were the youngest member of "the group?" You know, a pimply-faced kid who knew next to nothing about Mustangs but wanted to know and yet maintain his level of cool (on the whole I find that girls don't suffer under this difficulty)? I remember, and this state of affairs was brought back to me vividly the other day when Colin "Da Kid" Wines came over for one of our Thursday night Manly Mustang get togethers. It usually has a small cadre of participants, including Bob "the Big Kahuna" Myhrer, Dave "At The Helm" Helm, and me. There are others who float through on the odd occasion, like Kent "the Local Parts Guru" Hatchett and "Our Pal Al" Al Brietenstine. Others have come by, but on the whole it is just the core group.

One of the recent floaters has been Colin, who stopped by to show off the new-to-him '68 that I talked about in my column last month. As we stood around, Colin held his own in our conversations until we got under the hood. He didn't want to appear unknowledgeable, but there are just some things you have to learn as a 16 year old. I was generally impressed that he knows what a carburetor is. Don't laugh; the carburetor has been a dead issue since nearly before he was born. So that says Colin wants to learn.

As we went over the cool parts of Colin's '68 (using as little Mustang Speak as possible) the whole thing set me to thinking about something; do we do our best to bring the younger generation into our fold? Or do we alienate them with "Mustang Speak" and apathy? I know I'm as bad as anyone at using Mustang Speak when amongst my peers. But the guys and gals like Colin might be a little put off by this. Can you blame them? I became glassy eyed as Mark Houlahan tried to explain in Computerese what was wrong with my wheezing Pentium II 233 the other day. Although I appreciate his deftness with the box that makes the pretty lights on my monitor, I can't understand half of what he says and less than half of what's on the screen. The same can be said for the kids and adults who are new to the Mustang hobby. It is our job to teach the newbies the ways and words of Mustanging. I have some rules I live by that might benefit those of us that are in contact with the new Mustanger.

1. Never tell a newbie their car sucks. Come to think of it, never tell anyone their car sucks-unless they ask. Be constructive.

2. Always stay away from too much Mustang Speak. For instance, "Hey, nice Q Code. Got the original 735 on it?" Better to ask about the 428 Cobra Jet and the carburetor. Or better yet, offer to explain.

3. If they are young, remember what it was like having your first Mustang. Offer help if you can and advice when needed. Don't tell them how they should build their car.

4. Never make the new Mustanger feel dumb-actually, never make anyone in this hobby feel dumb.

5. Be nice.

Remember what it was like to be new at something? Remember what it was like to have a heart full of desire and a head devoid of knowledge? Me too. Let's do all we can to make everybody feel welcome in this hobby. In the long haul, you'll be glad you did.