1968

John D. McDonald sums up the whole car problem  in the timeless language of the noir detective monologue:

 “…People hate their cars. Daddy doesn’t come proudly home with the new one any more, and the family doesn’t come racing out, yelling WOW, and the neighbors don’t come over to admire it. They all look alike, for one thing. So you have to wedge a piece of bright trash atop the aerial to find your own. They may be named after predators, or primitive emotions, or astronomical objects, but in essence they are a big shiny sink down which the money swirls–in insurance, car payments, tags, tolls, tires, repairs. They give you a chance to sit in helpless rage, beating on the steering wheel in a blare of horns while, a mile away, your flight leaves the airport. They give you a good chance of dying quick, and a better chance of months of agony of torn flesh, smashed guts and splintered bones. Take it to your kindly dealer, and the service people look right through you until you grab one by the arm. and then he says: Come back a week from Thursday. Make an appointment. Their billions of tons of excreted pollutants wither the leaves on the trees and sicken the livestock. We hate cars, Detroit. Those of us who can possibly get along without them do so very happily. For those who can’t, if there were an alternate choice, they’d grab it in a minute. We buy them reluctantly and try to make them last, and they are not friendly machines anymore. They are expensive, murderous junk, and they manage to look glassily contemptuous of the people who own them. ” 

-MacDonald, J.D. (1968) Pale Gray for Guilt. pp 15-16
It was all true in 1968, and it’s even more true today.

Posted on March 3, 2014, in Essays and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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