Friday, October 26, 2007

Look! A Smart!

I had the most pleasant surprise yesterday. I was sitting at one of Austin's many institutions of dining (If you know what "never far from 12th and Lamar" means, you'll know I was essentially dumpster diving) having a less than delicious repast. I had a table in a sunny window. I was doing a little writing. But I was surrounded by four very persistent flies. And my waiter was essentially MIA. Not that I really wanted him to spend much time at my table. While very cute, my waiter was a walking cliche from the seventies, who kept making that clicking noise at me and pointing his finger and thumb in that fake gun gesture. It felt like a young Wink Martindale had invaded my space.

I swear I even saw him wink once as he clicked. That made it sort of hard to keep my food down.

Then I saw it. A SMART car. Those cool little two-seaters that are all over Europe, but not scheduled to arrive on our shores until next year. Then another drove past. Then another. It was almost like seeing a UFO (sorry Heather) in that I wasn't really sure I'd seen what I thought I'd seen. But this was midday and no hallucinogens were involved, so I smiled and shrugged and muttered, "cool!" under my breath.

Then they came around again. The same parade, sporadically placed, turning the same corner.

Well, I had to get me some of this. I pulled out some cash and threw it at Wink before he could click at me again (I'm not particularly cheap, but DAMN I hated paying 10 bucks for a shitty club sandwich and a water) and dashed out to my car.

I only had to wait a couple of minutes before they came around again and I was off, hot on the trail of the SMARTs. Moments later I emerged onto a parking lot FULL of SMART promotional banners and a giant semi with smart cars all over it. They were actually offering test drives. I had to. What a fun distraction!

The line was longer than I'd anticipated, but the people watching was really fun. NOT AT ALL the demographic I would have expected. Big butch lesbians. Tiny older asian lady. Retired couple. I think I was the youngest person there. And I'm closer to sunset than sunrise.

The sales guy looked like Vern Yip from HGTV. I kept wanting to say, "You look like Vern Yip from HGTV." Then I thought, "What if it actually IS Vern Yip from HGTV and he lost his job and now he's having to travel the country hawking SMART cars and he broke down and started crying right now and I didn't get to take my test drive."

So I said nothing.

And then, it was my turn. A cute little Passion Cabriolet (Seriously, people, could there BE a gayer name for a car?). I dutifully took the wheel and off we went. I was surprised at the stability of the car. I was thinking it would ride like a golf cart, but it felt like a solid ride. I would be nervous as hell on a freeway, but for in town it could be cool.

Soon enough, the ride was over. Just like Disneyland. They dropped you off right in front of a bunch of surveys. I passed. I didn't want to spoil my SMART car high by answering a bunch of questions.

But it was the highlight of my day. SMART is cool.

PS If you live in Austin, they're doing these test drives today and tomorrow, as well. In the Book People parking lot. Go.

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