I was driving through the parking lot of a local shopping center the other day, when I noticed a young guy in a maroon car with his brake lights on, obviously about to back out of the parking space ahead of me. Initially, I slowed, but then when I saw him look straight at me, I figured he was waiting for me to pass by. But just as I drew near, he abruptly backed out, right in front of me. So I slammed on my brakes and pulled slightly to the right to avoid a collision. My groceries, which were in the seat beside me, slid to the floor.
I muttered a few choice phrases and stared hard at the back of his car. He was taking him own sweet time about accelerating. So that gave me plenty of time to read his bumper sticker.
“I Hate Your Camry! ”
Despite my irritation, I laughed out loud. As it happens, I drive a Camry. I was driving it that day. But the idea that anyone could hate a Camry was ludicrous to me. Camrys just seem so innocuous and inoffensive. How could anyone hate them? It’s almost like hating…I dunno…a golden retriever. You know—they’re reliable; friendly; largish, but they don’t eat that much; and you see them everywhere. Yep, just your basic golden retriever of a car.
I mean, it’s not like I was driving a Hummer or something. That I could understand. But a Camry? Maybe he has some stereotype of a Camry driver in his mind. Maybe it symbolizes something to him. But I’m not sure what. Dullness? Conservatism? Thriftiness? Old age? Well, I am a middle-aged, thrifty, sometimes dull moderate-leaning-to-the-left, so I guess there could be some validity in that stereotype.
But I bet you’re wondering—what was he driving? A Civic? A Miata? Some other zippy, sporty, little car? No indeed. He was driving a… Buick Regal. Which is basically just an American Camry. I mean, my goodness, I don’t like to stereotype, but if you were playing one of those match games where you draw a line from a word in one column and its closest match in the second, and you saw the word “Buick” in column one and “Conservative Senior Citizen” in column two…well…would there be any question?
I wish I could have a word or two with that young whippersnapper. A nice, motherly chat. I’d talk to him about the futility and folly of hatred, about his lack of driving skills and judgment, and about the fact that it would have been far more prudent to get a Camry. Better reliability, better crash rating, and an all-around better car.
I would remind him that he, too, will be old someday. Because I think that what his bumper sticker is all about—he’s afraid he’s going to turn into his dad. Or his grandpa. But someday he, too, will be old, thrifty, and a little dull. And he, too, will love the way his Camry glides along, a smooth and reliable ride, insulating him from young whippersnappers who would hate him just because he’s…sensible.