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Dumb and Hummer

So, we just got back from a stimulating trip to Vancouver, where they have more glorious views than you can shake a stick at, though why you would want to shake a stick at anything except your dog is beyond me. But I digress.

We did see a lot of breathtaking mountains, a lot of sushi restaurants, and a surprising number of German tourists fresh off the cruise ships that make a pit stop in the shiny downtown part of the city. It was fun. But, of course, if you seek big mountains, fresh sushi and German tourists, you can find them in abundant supply in this country too.

But in Canada they also have some things you can’t easily find in this country. And it’s not just because they’re so small. Smart cars are everywhere in Vancouver. They even have convertibles.

The Smart car looks like a Hot Wheels car for grown ups. It wouldn’t work for soccer moms who have to schlep the team to practice. Nor would it be practical for people who wish to ferry Great Danes across country, or similar ambitious enterprises. However, for those of us who simply need to get to and from the grocery store, or the library, or make the occasional jaunt to the big city, the Smart car seems like the perfect answer. It’s so small you can park it almost anywhere. It’s chic and stylish and will set you apart from the SUV crowd. Plus, it gets almost 60 miles to the gallon.

Yet, for reasons beyond my simple mind, you can’t buy a Smart car in this country. No. You can buy a Hummer. The anti-smart car. I see a lot of Hummers on the roads around here. I don’t know which came first, the road rage or the Hummers, but at this point they both seem a reflection of the insanity on our highways.

I’m not saying everyone should trade in their Hummers. If they can afford the gas, and need to drive an armored car to feel secure, well, we just have to get out of their way and hope they don’t decide they need to attach machine guns to the roof to achieve their goals.

But, as for me, I’ll be looking to trade in my minivan for a Smart car. A West Coast environmental technology group known as ZAP (Zero Air Pollution) just this month arranged a deal to import Smart cars for American consumers. They may not be the next big thing, but maybe when gas gets to five bucks a gallon, American drivers will decide it pays to get Smart.

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