I got my driver’s license in 1975. The first car I drove without supervision was my mom’s Ford Pinto wagon with fake wood paneling. It had no power steering and no power brakes. As bare-bones as it was, I loved it because of everything it represented – independence, freedom, mobility. Then I had my first accident six days after receiving my license, and my parents determined that I might just be too young to have so much independence, freedom, and mobility. They still let me drive the Pinto occasionally, but not as much as I would have liked.
I went to college in Colorado and graduated with an English degree and the ability to drive a manual transmission, thanks to the three-speed Chevy Camaro that my then-boyfriend and future husband owned. Turns out that combination was just what I needed to land a job at Automobile Magazine in the summer of 1988.
Today, the only person with a longer tenure than me at Automobile Magazine is editor-in-chief Jean Jennings, but when I was hired, I was among the magazine’s youngest employees, with no background in publishing but with a good eye for proofreading and copy editing. In the intervening twenty-four years, as I moved from editorial assistant to production editor to managing editor, I’ve seen several coworkers come and go, many of them moving on to successful careers in the auto industry, from PR to consulting to product development – even to some of our competitors. Meanwhile, I’ve remained at the magazine, where I work mostly behind the scenes making sure that deadlines are met, copy is well-edited, and contributors are paid. I don’t get out of the office that much, perhaps a couple of press trips a year, but I never forget how good I have it with the opportunity to drive almost every new car on the market and the tremendous job satisfaction that comes each month when the newly bound issues arrive and I can hold the product of my work in my hands.