Saturday, May 9, 2009

Smart Aleck

My car in front of our family's ranch house. My grandfather came from Ireland and settled here, buying the house out of the Sears catalogue. 

My life has smoothed out and I am doing well. Now I have time to write a happier post. 

Last November I bought a new car and it has been more fun than any car I've owned. And Lord knows I needed some fun! It's a Smart, named Aleck. I first fell in love with the Smart car when I saw them in Paris years ago. When they came to the USA in January 2008, I wanted one. They get high gas mileage, they are environmentally friendly, (even the paint they use doesn't pollute the air when they spray it, and the dashboard is made out of cornsilk), and they make it easy for even someone as uncoordinated as me to paralell park. When Jim asked if I was actually going to drive it on the freeway, I asked him if his Miata had a four star safety rating like the Smart. (Contrary to appearances, independent sources have rated it a very safe car.) 

You can't be an introvert and drive this car. People smile, wave, point and laugh at me.  Just the other day,  a man in the SUV next to me motioned me to roll down my window, and told me "I feel like I know you because I see you several times a day every day. I love your car!" 

Once, while I was in a drugstore, picking up a prescription, the pharmacist came over to me and said "You're that woman who drives the Smart car!" I wasn't even in my car, and he recognized me  as if I were famous. It happened a different time in the supermarket line. The checker said "Are you the one who owns the Smart car?" After that I decided I better drive carefully and  proficiently. People are watching me all the time. 

People always ask me "How many miles to the gallon does it get?" (40)  or "How much did it cost?" ($13,000) or "Can you drive it on the freeway?" (It's probably safer to drive on the freeway than that car you're driving.) 

I like driving a car that makes people's faces light up when they see it. But what I like best about it: It's impossible to lock your keys in the car. 

In Europe the Smart cars are smaller than  in the States. Mine is the big model, redesigned to include, among other American amenities, cupholders. It was fun to see the different colors and options they have in Europe. About one out of every ten cars I saw in Italy was a Smart. 

Red Smart in Rome

Yellow and Black Smart in Florence
Lime Green Smart in Bologna

Blue Smart like mine in Assisi

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