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Smart Cars Have Rights Too


I think it was in 2002 when I saw a Smart car for the first time

It wasn’t love at first sight.

I went through a multifarious batch of emotions. I remember, at first, bouncing between perplexity and confusion. Perplexed at what it was exactly that I was seeing. Confusion as to whether it was real life or, perhaps, some stage piece left on the street, a prop for the next Transformers movie or something.

It was a Mercedes, which only added to the problem. What’s a classy automobile manufacturer like Mercedes doing stamping their name on this thing? I thought. I had to consider that maybe it was one of those future cars, like you might see at a car show. You know, those oddly shaped visionary vehicles that elicit “oohs” and “ahhs” or “huh?” from people because they look like something out of The Jetsons or Speed Racer.

Of course, those future cars—concept cars—are usually sporty. And the Smart car was far from sporty. It resembled an Easter egg.


Where do we find the brains behind this supposedly ‘smart’ vehicle?

I was, both at the time and currently, amused by the Smart automobile. My wife and I chuckled at the quirky little car that we began to notice more and more often. It was—how can I say it? First name: Ug. Last name: Lee.

We were living in Germany, and anyone who has driven in Europe can attest to the exorbitant price of petro. I assumed there must be incredible fuel economy. Yes, something this size must get, oh, at least eighty miles per gallon (mpg). Maybe even 100!

But, no, that wasn’t it. At thirty to thirty-five mpgs, it’s okay on fuel consumption, but it isn’t vastly better than all the other small- to middle-sized cars out there.

It’s on par…


Making the Smart Choice

So, then, could it be the small size? Parking is certainly limited, and spaces are undersized, in most European cities. So that seemed really reasonable, though a bit overkill, right? Smart Cars are smaller than small. And smart is a matter of opinion or circumstance. Internet research reveals that Smart cars were designed and created by the maker of the Swatch watch for a chunk of society that they felt had been overlooked, those people that wanted a “small and stylish city car.” A “Swatchmobile.”  History was made and we have Smart cars everywhere now.

But something awful has been happening the last few years.

Sure, I’m not a fan of the so-called “Smart” car. I think it’s silly looking and likely to be flattened if another car even looks at it sternly. So I make silly jokes and laugh when I see them. That’s it—that’s as far as I go.

Some people in this world are getting out of hand though. There seems to be, specifically, problems in San Francisco, with Smart car vandalism. Vandalism? I guess that’s as accurate as any other way of describing it.

It’s called Smart car tipping. Just as country teens get together and push over helpless cows, it would seem that city teens get together and push over helpless Smart cars. Groups of roustabouts are grabbing six to nine of their closest friends and pushing these little cars onto their sides.

Sure, a small part of me wants to laugh (just a little bit), but most of me thinks it’s a pretty cowardly thing to do. What did those cars ever do to you? What did their owners ever do to anyone else, aside from being smart and stylish?

The last thing we need is for a Smart Car tipping epidemic to sweep the world.

 


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