To my deep regret, we own a black car. Technically it’s a metallic brown, but it only looks brown two days a year when it has been to the car wash and the sun tilts at a certain odd angle for 1.6 seconds. Every other day, our brown car looks like black.
I should be able to distinguish our mid-size, boxy black car from other mid-size boxy black cars by the outline of the roof, the silhouette of the hood, the curve of the bumper or the shape of taillights, but I can’t.
Not only do I have trouble identifying our car, I have trouble identifying cars that good friends and long-time neighbors drive. Consequently, I wave at every car I pass in our neighborhood. If I don’t wave at a car and it carries someone I know, they’ll wonder why I’m unfriendly. Of course, if I wave at a car carrying someone I don’t know, they’ll think, “That woman must be batty!” It’s not much of a choice, but in the interest of maintaining friendships, I tilt toward batty.
The worst part is running errands. I exit the grocery with a full cart, head to my car and wonder why it won’t unlock. I try a second and third time. I pull on the door handle that won’t budge, peer inside the vehicle and see unfamiliar books in the passenger seat; a soft drink wedged in the beverage cup holder and realize it’s not my black car.
I look around to see if anyone has seen me because it looks like I am attempting to break into a vehicle, although few car thieves are women pushing fully loaded grocery carts. Fortunately, no one has ever called the police on me. Yet.
If only someone would invent a key fob you could click to launch a giant, neon orange foam arrow that hovers over your vehicle with the words “You Are Here!”
They could even be personalized as to color and message: “Seriously? Lost Again?” or “I’m Right Here Where You Left Me!”
Recently, the husband dropped me off at the entry to a store, so I didn’t have to walk through the pounding rain. I texted I was ready to be picked up, then dashed outside as a boxy black car pulled up and nearly got into the wrong vehicle.
The husband pointed out it could be worse because there are even more silver cars than black cars and even more white cars than silver.
Maybe our next car will be blue, with big yellow stripes and red polka dots, something to subtly set it apart.
The other day I saw a woman walking up and down the aisle in a parking lot waving her key fob overhead, punching it frantically.
“Can’t find your car?” I asked.
“Right,” she said with a look of exasperation.
“Maybe I can help. What color is it?” I asked.
I knew the answer the minute the words were out of my mouth.
Lori Borgman is a columnist, author and speaker. Reach her at email@example.com.