The Fate of the SUV and the Lower Classes
Nothing viscerally repulses me more than driving behind or beside an SUV. There are no words to describe my disdain, maybe, —- vile, disgust, morally bankrupted, character disorder, and most of all, hegemonic. A person not in an SUV or big truck is forced to participate in this sadomasochistic setup. Unlike most cars, one cannot see around an SUV or big truck unless you are driving an SUV or big truck. If an SUV driver decides to compromise your two seconds, you are forced to fall back or go around, which usually just means changing tyrants, because there is always another menacing SUV driver waiting in the other lanes to obstruct your line of sight, your driving choices. When an SUV is impeding your vision, hence, your reaction time and decisions, you are at his mercy. You are forced to trust his judgment. If he does not foresee a problem, you will be denied that ability; you have nothing to look out for or respond to, but his brake lights, his reaction. You are not privy to knowing if he is driving at the speed he is because there is something slower in front of him, if there is traffic, or if there is debris in the road, nothing. And, as I already said, there is another one, another one, and another one if you try to get away from him. Their compulsory dominance is your compulsory submission. Opting out is not an option. One has to go out for work, buy groceries, live socially in an environment that will not allow an island an undisturbed existence, or at the very least, left alone to choose when to interact with the mainlanders.
It is not just other drivers of cars that must deal with these SUV drivers, often bicyclists and pedestrians are at their mercy too. We leave the house around the same time each morning and see many of the same drivers. There is one large red Dodge truck that we are stuck behind if we leave at 7:32 instead of 7:31, and many mornings he swerves into the bicycle lane, due to what appears an inability to put the mobile down while driving. A hands free device law has been passed, undoubtedly it has been interpreted by many to not be hands free, as in literally using no hands, but just no hands holding the mobile up to their ears, therefore, still using one hand to hold the phone close to their mouths so they can use the speaker feature is okay. One swerve is all it takes to end the life of a bicyclist or pedestrian.
When it comes time for the SUV owner/driver to get rid of his hunk of encumbrance, be it because society has shamed him into getting something more modest; during a recession (possibly a depression) owning such a beast will not only appear stupid (regardless of the price of gas), it will symbolically scream overindulged decadence, or simply because an SUV will no longer satisfy the middle class’s image, or, gawd bless his precious soul, he realises it is his civic duty to look like he cares about the environment, there will be no concerns for anything or anyone else. The SUV owner will not care one iota what happens to that SUV,–all of those SUVs. In his pretentious must-have mad dash to get the first Smart Fortwo, Mini Cooper, or Prius, he will think about that unwanted SUV as much as he thinks about what happens to his shit when he flushes the toilet, as much as an Elizabethan gentleman thought about the guttersnipe when he positioned a portable basin on an opened window and let it rip. He will not think, will not care. All he will care about is getting the shit away from him and removing the stink from his nose. It will be at this juncture that the lower classes will be expected to do their duty for the recession and buy the used SUVs. No, they cannot demand access to Mini Coopers and Fortwos too, those are reserved for the deserving.
As the economy becomes scarier, credit will be harder to come by. Without available credit, the lower classes will be forced to find transportation from other than new car lots. Similar to the early Reagan years, “Your Job Is Your Credit” used car lots will flourish, along with seedy finance companies that can legally charge 26.99% APR for used cars and require payments be made weekly or bi-weekly to accommodate the clause that a car can be repossessed after two missed payments. Thus, after a repossession, the used car dealer will have the one person’s down payment and few weeks (maybe even months) of payments and have the car back to sell again, and again. The bulk of those used cars will be SUVs because it will be the bulk of what new car lots are sending down stream from the upper classes’ trade-ins.
After enough time has passed for most of the bourgeois to get new fuel efficient and environmentally appeasing cars, every poor man and woman who had to deal with the used lots (The denial letter will declare: “inadequate income,” or “imbalance debt to income ratio,” or “you are just not getting it, now move along.”) will be riding around in old space hogging and gas guzzling SUVs. It will be then, when the middle classes will turn their noses up and blame the continuation of global warming on those selfish and ignorant lower classes that do not demonstrate enough reverence and consideration for other people or the environment. If those lower classes were just not so morally bankrupted, then they too, would buy a Smart Fortwo, as the bourgeois did.