Tag Archives: driving

Name that car

People have no doubt written about this before, but it has only recently gotten my attention enough to give it more thought.

Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time on highways, where there tend to be a lot of cars, and have realized something.

It used to be that cars had words for names. Many were named for real or mythical creatures. Falcon. Jaguar. Cougar. Beetle. Viper. Thunderbird. Firebird. My first car was a Mustang.

For a while, car names symbolized strong human types: Cavalier. Maverick. Ranger.

Cars were also named for exciting places, like Daytona and Malibu.

Then came a time when inserting a French article made a car seem more exotic: LeSabre. Le Car. LeBaron.

Dodge has been keen on naming cars for objects that represent speed (Dart), fearlessness (Intrepid) and forcefulness (Ram Charger).

I love my car, but wish it had a real name. I drive an Altima. Before that I drove a Sentra. Nissan also makes the Maxima. I’d prefer these be real words: Ultimate, Sentry and Maximum. I don’t know if the Japanese are the ones who first came up with made-up names; they were the ones who also invented Camry, Prius, Yaris and Integra, and introduced the alternatively spelled Infiniti. Honda has done quite well with the Civic and Accord, both nice names and real words with positive associations. Hyundai has the Tucson and Santa Fe, both nice places. Still, made-up names seem to be on the rise. Increasingly, humans are giving their offspring made-up names.

Maybe carmakers have something there. Surely there were countless focus groups that confirmed the appeal of certain made-up words, and it appears from my observations on the road, that these are the cars people are buying. Most luxury car models are beyond words, simply using combinations of letters and digits.

Not one for made-up names for cars or humans, I had to get past buying a car with a nonsense name. I passed up the Accord for the Altima, which I liked far better in the test drive. If I had test driven names alone, I’d have bought the Accord.

How about you? Did your first car have a real word for a name? To what extent did the name factor into the selection of your current car model?


Filed under All Things Wordish, Marketing/Advertising/PR, Travel

Purgatorio over the Potomac

If you’re a regular blogger, you may have noticed that, just when you think there can’t possibly anything left to write about, material happens.

It’s odd that yesterday, as with last Sunday, blog fodder presented itself on my way from church. Some might say this is reason not to go to church. My husband argued that today’s little happening is reason to never go to Virginia. He hates Virginia. Even more so, he hates Tyson’s Corner, Virginia.

Long story short, we had to run an errand in Tyson’s Corner after church. The latest round of infernal traffic redesigns would qualify the Tyson’s area as the Ninth of Dante’s Circles of Hell, which is Treachery.

We thought we would make it home with our sanity (and the important item we purchased) when, halfway home, a very large, brand new Cadillac smacked into our car on the Capital Beltway, right in the middle of the American Legion Bridge. Fender benders happen all the time; but the Beltway, which everyone and his brother takes to the Redskins’ FedEx Field, is not the place you want to block a lane of traffic on a Sunday afternoon, especially midway across the Potomac River. I dare say, a few of the motorists who were none too pleased with the delay could use a little churching themselves.

No one was hurt, except my beloved red Nissan, so the event amounts to little more than an inconvenience. But my husband spent Sunday afternoon dealing with insurance companies, which he might equate to both the First Circle of Hell (Limbo) and the Fifth (Wrath and Sullenness) wrapped into one.

One day we’ll look back on this as Divine Comedy.


Filed under Family and Friends, Foibles and Faux Pas, Reading, Technology and Social Media, Travel

Catch a wave?

It has been said that it’s the little things that bring happiness into our lives. Not to make this a glass-half-empty conversation, but isn’t it also the little things that drive us up the wall or at least make us shake our heads in perplexity?

I took a three-day road trip recently and noticed the striking disappearance of a little thing. So simple, but now, so gone.

I am talking about the thank-you wave.

Granted, I tend to overdo it. When someone is kind enough to let me cut over, I flail my hand back and forth for a good long time, just so the driver knows how grateful I am.

I also happen to be pretty darn generous with drivers who wish to cut in front of me—unless, of course, it’s some doofus who has flown down the shoulder and suddenly wants VIP treatment. But usually I allow one car. If each of us practiced this, traffic might just keep moving smoothly.

In the 500 miles I put in on the road last week, I’d say I let more than a dozen drivers slip into my lane ahead of me, just to be nice.

Not one thank-you wave came my way, in 500 miles.

What happened to this simple gesture of thanks? What made it extinct?

Others have noticed, I know, because mine isn’t the only commentary out there about it. I agree wholeheartedly with one woman who commented, “Let’s not let this gesture go the way of the R.S.V.P. or be piled on to the ‘that’s ol’ fashioned’ etiquette junk heap.” Another person started a blog entitled Thank-you Wave, in January 2009, but the blog is empty, in which case the wave has literally disappeared.

Part of me wants to be mature and not sweat the small stuff, while the other part wants to explode into a George Costanza-esque tirade and shout, “We’re LIVING in a SOCIETY…”

I’m sorry to be complaining so much this week. I don’t know what else to do, except perhaps keep on over-waving. And letting people in. And continuing to look for the best in my fellow motorists. Except that jerk riding the shoulder.


Filed under Rants and Raves, Travel