Don’t Drive Like My Brother

“Don’t drive like my brother” is usually the last bit of advice that “Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers” give to their around 2 million listeners of their weekly National Public Radio show Car Talk on 370 radio stations.

I used to listen to them religiously. They are funny and irreverent and clever and poked as much fun at the callers as they did at themselves. In the closing credits, they acknowledged the research done by Paul Murky of Murky Research and thanked their law firm Dewey, Cheetham, and Howe. They would also thank random people such as their adopted son from Sweden, Bjorn A. Payne Diaz, or their airline reservation manager, Will Price Randomly. (See this for a complete list of credits.)

I was pleasantly surprised when I recently learnt that Tom and Ray Magliozzi (Click and Clack) were the speakers at MIT’s Commencement Exercises in June 1999. Here is part of a MIT news item on the event.

They received tongue-in-cheek letters from MIT President Charles M. Vest explaining that both the United Nations and the President of the United States had “really spiffy flags” that came in handy to “cheer up a drab corner of the campus.”

So, not to be outdone, the Magliozzi brothers created a flag. Their flag — purple, red and black on a white background — is 4-by-6, emblazoned with the slogan Non Impediti Ratione Cogitatonis (Unencumbered by the Thought Process) surrounding a seal showing the fins, taillights and bumper of a 1959 Cadillac, complete with a raccon tail on the trunk. They say it memorializes the rear end of Tom’s recently deceased 1963 Dodge Dart. The flag flew on the podium alongside the US and state flags.

In their rambling, hour-long address, the brothers occasionally jockeyed for position at the podium, yelled “Stop it!” and “Behave!” at each other and laughed harder than almost anyone in the audience at their own jokes. Their speech was accompanied by hand-made graphs on posterboard that showed the relationship between happiness levels for “left brain vs. right brain” individuals.

Although each brother seemed loath to give the other the last word, Ray finally managed with: “Have fun, enjoy the ride and don’t drive like my brother.”

The address is a must read. I read it because it was delivered at what C&C said “is the world’s foremost institute of technology on Massachusetts Avenue” but I guarantee that you will not have wasted your time for having read it as well.

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