Wednesday February 24 What color is your ride?


Vallejo once again 7:30 am
Drizzly and chilly, but cars are waiting. I’m in a Honda sedan. It’s immaculate and decked out with several Asian-charm chochkees hanging from the mirror and one tucked into a spot on the dashboard. The driver is a young Asian fellow. We’re listening to NPR.

He’s been in the bay area only a year – from Los Angeles, and he chuckles at the reactions he gets from his LA friends when he tells them about casual carpool. Typically, they are horrified to hear about a bunch of strangers jumping into each others’ cars. He loves the casual carpool and the time it saves him. The upcoming toll does not bother him – “it’s still a great deal”, he says.

This car is a light brown/beige both inside and out. I’ve been observing car colors for awhile, and have noticed that cars have become rather colorless during the last several years. Tans, grays, whites, dull blues and blacks began to dominate the freeway landscape about 4 years ago. I remember a jollier palette before then, with bright reds, yellows, electric blues and silvers.

I’ve attributed the glum years of George Bush, Iraq, the economy and the general despair of the times to the blah colors of our cars. I privately theorized that when Obama became Prez we would see brighter colors. Our freeways would bloom with yellows, cherry reds, oranges and golds.

I survey the freeway each day and am not seeing much of a change. Today for example it’s mostly blacks and grays with a number of whites thrown in. I am cheered to see several bright green cars but so far my theory has not come to pass.
Car manufacturers have been fighting to keep their heads above water on several fronts and now there are the Toyota troubles to add to all that. Perhaps they’re not inspired to turn out cars colored in cheer. And most people are not feeling very optimistic about much of anything these days.

Ah, here’s a sleek black Buick going past us followed by a gray SUV. A dark slate blue Toyota, several more black cars. Now there’s a silver hybrid – nice! an older light turquoise Thunderbird – very nice! And here comes two bright blue small cars – both Nissan, one a Nissan Versa, the other a 2-seater 350Z.

It’s a real lift to see a bright spot of color driving along. Maybe I’m looking at this backwards – instead of the mood of the economy, unemployment, mortgages and what ever happened to health care reform coloring our rides into blah grays and browns, perhaps a hot pink Honda Civic or a pale blue Corolla, a lime green Voyager, or a lavendar Rav4 are just what we need to turn this around. Keep watching.

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