Saturday, April 13, 2013

SUV: "Screw U Vehicle"

When did they first start calling suburban tanks SUVs? I remember hearing the term for the first time (but can’t recall precisely when) and wondering what it stood for. Stupid Unnecessary Vehicle? Screw U Vehicle? I thought I had misunderstood, at first, when I heard someone say that it stood for “sport utility vehicle”. Then I realised that the marketing people had pulled off an amazing coup by completely redefining two perfectly good English words. Because neither the word “sport” nor the word “utility” could in any meaningful way be applied to these suburban tanks.

There is another term for these vehicles in Australia: Toorak Tractor. For those who don’t know, Toorak is one of the wealthier suburbs of Melbourne. The Toorak Tractor is the “off road” vehicle for people who are never likely to see mud or dust. The closest it will get to being “off road” is when they park it on the lawn to wash it – or, at least, when “the help” washes it.

I drive a little Ford Fiesta. I’m no Ford fan, or a fan of any other brand, for that matter. But it’s a useful little car that gets me from A to B without much trouble. The word “utility” comes to mind. It’s useful, without being flashy. The problem is being able to find it in the shopping centre car park, surrounded, as it almost always is, by a wall of Toorak Tractors. And I probably don’t need to tell you about the problem of backing out from between them. Edge backwards a little. Hope and pray. Edge back a little further. Hope that whoever might be driving down the lane way towards me will have the grace to let me out. Hoping that it is not another SUV, which might drive over me, mistaking me for a speed bump.

I am thinking of carrying a bucket of mud in the car with me, to throw over some of those massive shiny tractors.

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