Let there be white
By Jim Poling Sr.
The plan this week was to write a column about the SNC-Lavalin political madness whipped up by the muddled minds of the nation’s political elite.
Plans change; this one because my mind refused to waste one more millisecond reading or hearing about political incompetency and corruption.
The SNC-Lavalin scandal, which could have been avoided with some honest moral leadership, continues while the critical problems of climate change, the opioid epidemic, the growing poor-rich chasm are lost in a fog of political war. It’s like kids screaming at each other over a broken toy instead of working together to fix it.
So I decided to write about my new car instead of the SNC-Lavalin mess.
Some months ago my wife and I agreed it would make sense to trade our aging car and 11-year-old pickup truck for one new vehicle.
It is a nice car. Smooth, frisky and smells good inside. The only complaint is that all the bells, buzzers, blinking lights and computerized thingies are almost as annoying as the politicians arguing whether corporate criminal acts should be ignored in the interest of saving jobs.
What is strange about our new car is its colour. It is white.
Many years ago I vowed never to drive a white car. It was a vow developed from a childhood trauma.
The trauma occurred the day my father came home with our very first family vehicle. It was a brand new boxy 1956 Chevy with pimple tail lights, and should have been the envy of a neighbourhood of rusting, slouch-back 1940s models.
It wasn’t. It was totally white and without an inch of chrome to give it some personality.
The neighbourhood kids were on to it immediately. Their taunts were devastating.
“Hey, there’s an ambulance at Poling’s house!”
“No, it’s theirs. His old man bought an ambulance.”
The adults were not any kinder.
“Did it come with a siren?” the next door neighbour asked.
“How much would it cost for a rooftop red light option?” asked another.
The jokes shouted across the lawns and the whispers and smirks at his workplace parking lot were too much for Dad. One day he brought the Chevy back to Port Arthur Motors where he had bought it. It came back the next day with a painted blue roof. No longer could it be called The Ambulance.
All those memories washed over me as I drove our new, white car from the dealership. Would friends and neighbours start calling it The Ambulance?
Then after a couple of days on the road I realized that I was not alone in having a white car. Many of the vehicles around me, even trucks, were white.
Some research uncovered a startling fact: In recent years white has become the most popular colour for new vehicles. Every second car now imported from Asia is white. Worldwide, 37 per cent of all new vehicles in 2016 were painted white.
So instead of being laughed at and called The Ambulance my new car is lost in a sea of white cars out there on the streets and highways.
One reason for the trend to white vehicles is that some people consider them safer. Surveys show that black vehicles are 12 per cent more likely to be involved in an accident than white. Grey vehicles are 11 per cent more likely, and silver 10 per cent.
There are disadvantages to having a white vehicle. It is difficult to find in parking lots where the majority of vehicles seem to be white.
Also, there were times this past winter at the lake when I thought our car had been stolen. I would get up in the morning, look out to the parking spot and could not see it. It was indistinguishable in the fresh-fallen snow.
But my car’s colour is not simply white. No car colour these days has a name that is plain or simple. Blues, for instance, are no longer simply blues. Your new blue vehicle might be listed as Estoril, Indigo, Blu Nettuno or some other florid appellation dreamed up by marketing ninjas.
No, my new car is not a plain and simple white. It is Blizzard, which likely is why I had so much trouble finding it during the winter.