Tuesday, 30 September 2008

A typical Camry kind of guy

I have a colleague at work about whom I've got a pretty low opinion. He's a small, twerpy kind of guy, in his mid-30s, who shows up between 9:30 and 10:30 every day, and usually leaves by three in the afternoon to "beat traffic". He says he's working from home, but he's never in the office when I call his cell phone, and the small amount of work he actually gets done backs up the idea that he isn't actually working. He's the kind of guy who is much better at making excuses than making progress. He lives in east Vancouver rather than in Portland. All of that being said, you can totally picture the kind of under-achieving guy I'm talking about.

He and his wife recently got rid of their minivan (they are childless) and bought a new Camry, because his wife didn't l ike driving the minivan. Less than a month after buying the new transportation appliance, she left him, taking his paid-off Pathfinder and leaving him with the Camry and its monthly payment. (She also took his "beloved" cat... while I was listening to this drawn-out sob story I was contemplating a faked dropped-call to get him off of the phone... ) He was telling me this tale of woe, about how she has filed for divorce, asking for $1000/month in alimony, plus education expenses, all while he's paying his $1700 mortgage and the $300/month Camry payment. If he makes an equivalent amount to what I make (which I hope he doesn't, because he does so little work), he'll have about ten cents to rub together at the end of the month.

The thing is, I'd bet it's the Camry purchase that drove her away. The guy is totally an underwhelming underachiever, and the Camry purchase was surely the icing on the cake for his wife. That purchase surely signified to his wife his utter lack of aspiration, and his inability to make good decisions or to make her happy by buying her fancy things. It sounds like he deserves the Camry, it seems to suit the dull, underwhelming person he is.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

More Anti-Camry Rage

While the weather is nice in the midwest, I'm leaving my snooty Swedish car at home and riding my bike the 3+ miles to the office. It is a pretty nice commute, about half on dedicated bike paths, and the rest on wide, low-traffic roads. Usually, I am able to make my commute and not have any close encounters with cars.
I follow traffic laws, stop at stop signs, and ride with tracffic. I ride predictably and make my intentions clear. My bike is well-lit when it is dark out.
Yesterday on the way home I had not one, but two close encounters of the idiot-Camry variety. The first was an old lady in a metallic-maroon (burgundy?) Camry who made a left turn in front of me to pull into a strip mall. She was either going to visit a Cousin's Subs, Cost Cutters, or a video game store. But she made her left from the right lane (not the turn lane) and she didn't signal. I had to slam the brakes on hard to avoid her. If I'd been 20 feet ahead on the road, I'd have been a Camry hood ornament.
So I thought, wow, I was lucky there, but the rest of the ride should be okay. I made it about a mile close, and was maybe half a mile from home, when a tie-wearing, business-oriented Camry driver started pulling out of his driveway as I was riding up a hill. It was a long driveway, which crosses a sidewalk, and then the grassy area between the sidewalk and the road. Most people back out until they are past the sidewalk, and then re-check for road-users before backing the rest of the way into the road. but this guy slowed down to where I thought he was going to stop, but then kept right on coming, backing outright towards me. I yelled at him . "Hey Watch it!" And his window was down, so he stopped and and I rode past replied, "Sorry, I didn't see you." Well, no shit. The key is that you have to actually look!!! I told him he should start looking, since I was there every day. What an ass... I have been remiss in updating the anti-Camry, but I'll try to get back on it. There have definitely been no shortage of incidents.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008


We've all seen it. The Camry driver who is so oblivious to what is going on outside of his or her own little cocoon of blandness that he or she should simply not be driving anymore. Their car should be seized in exchange for a lifetime bus pass. Here is the latest in a long line of clueless Camry operators:

Last weekend I went to a big Saab meet-up in my region. It took place at a now-historic 1950s drive-in/diner which is well-known for hosting car shows and car club gatherings. A secondary parking lot at this drive has signs which read something like "Reserved on Weekends for Car Shows." In other words, don't park in that lot if you aren't in the show. I arrived and backed my Saab into a spot beside another Saab. More Saabs were arriving and backing in. I think we had over 25 Saabs at our gathering. As the Saabs were arriving, so did a tan Camry, piloted by a frumpy middle-aged woman with two grade-school aged children in back. She pulled in and parked between two of the Saabs in our group, then proceeded to waddle over to get a big order of fries and root beer floats.

The primary parking lot of the drive-in was less than half-full, yet she bypassed that lot and then parked her dun-colored appliance in the middle of our shined-up Saabs. Jaws dropped. People stared. And away she waddled, clueless that we were staring, let alone that she had parked in the middle of our gathering. Eventually she and her greasy-fingered offspring returned to their car, haplessly backed out of the spot, and drove away. A late-arriving Saab driver carefully reversed into the spot she had vacated, and all was right in the world. Actually, all was right in the parking lot. All was still not right in the world, because Tan Camry Lady was surely off to cluelessly bungle somebody else's afternoon.

Fast-forward eleven days, to this very afternoon. I got an email from the Anti Camry comment reporter, letting me know that Gary from Car of the Day had commented on my blog. It turns out he shares my views on Camrys and their siblings. I read of his disdain for the hated transportation appliances, and left a comment. He later posted a small piece about this very blog on his site. I've started the stopwatch, as my fifteen minutes of fame havae surely arrived. I'm totally famous on the internet. As my head spins from the excitement, my iPhone beeps a reminder that it's time to go pick up my daughter from daycare. I grabbed the key to the Saab 9-3 Aero convertible I'm testing this week for Autosavant and headed out the door.

On my way across town, a formerly-gold Camry, whose ten-year-old paint resembled the texture brushed fiberglass of a former colleague's failed Fiero-to-DeLorean conversion, darted out of a grocery store parking lot, across three-and-a-half lanes of traffic, and stopped at a red light, straddling two lanes of traffic. As I approached that red light in the road's right lane, I crept up to the light near the sidewalk so that I could be beside the Camry and therefore get ahead of it when the light turned green. As I waited for the light to change, I was thinking that I could write about this car on for the Anti Camry. The car had no wheelcovers, a visibly dirty dashboard, and a broken front-passenger door handle. The driver wore no seatbelt, though the passenger, text messaging on a cell phone, did. The driver glared at me as I looked over his sorry car. When the light turned green, I roared away before he even managed to figure out which pedal he should step on to make the car go. I saw him in my rearview mirror just before I turned off. It looked like he had finally decided to go with the right lane. It had only taken him a half block to make that decision.

Even though I'm not writing regularly here on the Anti Camry, rest assured that fleets of tan Toyotas are still bungling me up. I just haven't got the time to write about them as often. I do still believe that the purchase of a new Toyota should come with free-and-mandatory driver training. They should also come with a sticker on the front window that reads "Keep Right Except To Pass". Not that the drivers would actually notice. Because they are clueless.