Joining isn’t the most popular verb in my own personal vernacular.
There’s my local PBS affiliate and the non-commercial listener-supported radio station — I joined both of those a few years ago.
More recently, I joined the ACLU, Total Soccer Show Scouting Network and the Radiotopia Podcast Network. Really though, those are all recurring donations that net me soft plastic membership cards (or heavy challenge coins, in the case of Radiotopia and the 99% Invisible podcast) to slide into that pocket of wallet space behind my Target Red card and driver’s license.
To join in those cases was a mostly passive, thoroughly private affair between me, my credit card, my laptop and a few databases stored on server farms somewhere in middle America. There are no happy hour meet-ups or monthly conference calls scheduled for members of the clubs I’ve joined.
I have never been a member of a club in the face to face, handshakes and hellos sense of the word. Although I do now get a warm “Hello and Welcome” from Daryl and Taylor every day via the magic of podcast audio.
I’ve also never even owned a Member’s Only jacket. Tragic.
Over the last six months though, I couldn’t help but feel like I had unknowingly joined a club. A huge club too! ! A club adding thousands of members every single month, year after year. Amazingly, that didn’t freak me out. It had the opposite effect: it kinda thrilled me!
This is a club made up of all different kinds of people, people who became a part of something special, a not-so-secret secret society of sorts, all because of the car they drove off some dealer’s lot.
For half a year I, along with my two daughters and my wife, were members of club of people who gleefully own and joyfully drive Kia Souls.
Kia Soul Club.
It’s not an official thing, I don’t think, but Kia Soul Club a very real thing!
Maybe Kia Soul Club isn’t as famous yet as the Beetles auto club and maybe there isn’t a built-in spot for a vase and a colorful little flower but I spent six months of my life feeling a strong kinship with my fellow Soul-sters.
Oof, that’s a terrible name for Kia Soul club. Don’t use that, Kia.
Every time we would be cruising in our Kia Soul EV, we’d make side-eye contact with other Kia Soul drivers and passengers as we passed each other on the street, we’d nod when stopped next to each other at one of my town’s many, many red lights, and we’d smile if we would end of parked beside another Kia Soul at the mall or at the best Chinese take-out place in the neighborhood.
I freaking loved it. I loved knowing I was a tiny part of something bigger. Never in a million years did I think I’d make that kind of statement.
Kia Soul Club was in effect at least once a day, because there are a lot of Souls and at least one Soul EV cruising around Southeastern Pennsylvania.
All that’s missing is one of those bendy plastic membership cards and a fly ass handshake.
There’s an air of radical independence about that car that lends itself so easily to a real sense of community for the people who own ’em. From the exterior shape you can’t help but take notice of while out and about to the interior design elements (those speakers! those lights!) that reinforce one’s own sense of quirky flair, driving a Kia Soul always feels like something more than just driving a car.
Being the (temporary) owner of a Kia Soul felt like I had become a member of a special club and, oddly enough, that’s exactly what I didn’t know I was missing in my life. And now I’m missing that.
We said our fond farewells to the Kia Soul EV about a month ago.
[queue sad trombone]
The impact of joining club Kia Soul, even for a relatively short period of time, will be felt for many more years to come, I bet. Both of my girls loved that ride so much and so it would not surprise me in the least if they both joined the Kia Soul club once age 16 rolls into our driveway.
Maybe by then the handshake thing will have been worked out.
*OWTK is a Kia brand ambassador and enjoyed a long term loan of a Kia Soul EV. All opinions expressed above are honest and unbiased, as always. Oh, Soul just won 2017 Best Car For Families Award from U.S. News & World Report. See, it’s not just me and my other Soul-sters! Yep, still a terrible club name.