America has been widely regarded as the ultimate land of freedom and opportunity almost since day one, but lately some cynics have been saying that the American Dream is becoming harder and harder to attain, especially for those from below-average socioeconomic backgrounds. Well, those naysayers obviously never met my neighbor Liviu.
Liviu was born in the Eastern European nation of Romania, which at the time was under a communist regime. In the early 1970s, Liviu was a busboy at a restaurant where, one fateful day, he met some Italian tourists. Somehow the topic of cars came up, and the tourists told him about their homeland’s most famous automaker, Ferrari.
Having never heard of Ferrari before (we’re behind the Iron Curtain, remember), Liviu, a gearhead at heart, was enchanted by the visitors’ tales of the firm’s history, racing pedigree and exclusivity. The travelers were even kind enough to slip him a magazine featuring Ferraris, an act that was even more frowned upon by the Romanian government than merely getting friendly with foreigners.
A few years later Liviu took advantage of an opportunity to travel to Italy and, naturally, made it a point to see a Ferrari firsthand. Needless to say, Liviu became an even bigger fan, and resolved that he would someday own a Ferrari.
Fast forward through the years and we find Liviu literally being smuggled out of Romania and winding up in America to fulfill his other dream of practicing medicine. Today Liviu is a highly respected internist specializing in geriatric care, and he, wife Mara (a fellow Romanian whom he had met before leaving the country), their teenaged daughter and their dog live in a spacious house in the hills of Monrovia.
And just last month Liviu realized his other dream when he purchased a new Ferrari F430 coupe. And while Mara initially discouraged this ultra-flashy purchase, even she warmed up and admitted that, considering the massive obstacles that her husband has overcome in his life, he kind of deserves a reward like this. Which is a good thing, because not only would I have been able to test drive one otherwise (Yes, I thanked Liviu profusely and gave him a big bear hug afterward.), but also because, in times as turbulent as these, it’s always good to have tangible proof that the United States is still the place where, with healthy doses of hard work and determination, dreams can come true.
?On a semi–related note, you may recall how, in my last column, I blasted the mainstream media for not covering Audi’s impressive 12 Hours of Sebring win with a diesel-powered car. Well, you can imagine the look on my face when I found a March 27 article from the New York Times that not only addressed Audi’s amazing feat, but also gave a concise and neutral overview of diesel’s future in the U.S. car and light truck market.
Now call me crazy, but if the largest and arguably most left-leaning daily newspaper in the country can do a fact-filled and balanced piece on diesels, doesn’t that make thick-skulled zealots like the Union of Concerned Scientists look a little, I don’t know, stupid?
Anyway, I just thought that was food for thought. Bon appétit.
Tom Anderson, a junior journalism major, is editorial director of the Campus Times. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.