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‘If I Had a Hummer (I’d Sell It in the Morning)’

Posted: June 28, 2008 9:23 p.m.
Updated: August 30, 2008 5:02 a.m.

According to certain psychologists, the automobiles we drive may be interpreted as expressions of how we view ourselves, or would like to.

If that is true, then I must long to be fast, flirty, sporty and petite. After all, among the vehicles I have owned and most prized have been three small sports cars; first a Datsun 240-Z, then a Triumph TR-7, and finally, a BMW 323 CI.

I sold my most recent topless alter ego-mobile nearly two years ago, trading it toward a significantly larger and comfier 4-door German sedan.

Why did I let mein little leipshin go?

I desired a real feeling of safety on the road, something I just couldn’t get in my dinky, low-to-the-ground two-seaters.

With all the massive SUVs out there, particularly those humongous Hummers, Navigators and Escalades, I feared I would quickly become a mangled memory if they plowed into me.

Such trauma has nearly happened several times; with each instance the drivers were running red lights.
Six-thousand to 8,000-pound  monster machines charging my way — and frightened me peering up into their undercarriages — these were not reassuring situations.

To the folks who have earned their living selling these vehicles, and to those consumers who bought into ownership of trendy, high-carbon-emission moving citadels, please accept my condolences: Your vehicles are going the way of the dinosaur.  

Although I take no pleasure in seeing anyone lose money, I have to admit, I’m feeling a bit relieved about that extinction. 

Economically and ecologically imprudent, and dangerous to be around (and according to crash stats, not always so safe to be in), these gargantuan fuel drinkers deserve to become history.

Although my latest vehicle is much smaller in comparison, it too is losing value due to less-than-desirable gas consumption. But also important now, it is losing value to me. One-hundred dollar-a-tank fill-ups are painful, even for someone who doesn’t drive all that much.

While I didn’t think getting 13-20 miles per gallon was reason not to buy this Teutonic beauty 18 months ago, I do think it’s reason enough to sell it today.

When it’s gone, I’ll putt around in my other car; a small and very unglamorous four-door Japanese sedan.
At 35 mpg, it’s looking better every day.

Just think, if we all started driving smaller, more fuel-efficient cars (like in Europe, where they’ve been paying $4-5 per gallon for years), everyone would benefit — in the long run.

Our roadways would become safer, more level playing fields (that miraculous David and Goliath phenomenon worked in the Bible but not so with dissimilarly size-matched cars).

We’d use far less fossil fuel, become better stewards for the environment, and resign as principal pawns in the current oil-driven frenzy.

What community and globally-conscious person wouldn’t want that?

Now back to that car/self-image thing: If that perception applies, then what can be said for the drivers of these massive “utility” vehicles? Do they see themselves as invincible, me-first road warriors?

Are they spend-crazy, eco-lazy show-offs? Do they suffer from sexual inferiority complexes and compensate by looking bigger and bolder?

Maybe some fall into those categories. But more than likely they are a lot like the rest of us: With all the drugged-out, raged-up, dumbed-down drivers on our streets and freeways today, they want themselves and their families in something really SAFE. But there are limits, and these vehicles have taken self-defense and fuel gluttony for far too long of a ride.

I would guess that with the huge tax incentive President George Bush gave big SUV buyers back in 2003, it was impossible for some to resist making those purchases.

Do you remember that tax break? Part of his 2003 economic “stimulus” package, the provision rewarded certain “business” people with large tax savings for buying oversized vehicles.

You could literally purchase a $102,000 Hummer H1 for (wink wink) “business purposes” and deduct about $87,000 from your taxes.

How cool was that? A veritable gift from the government!

I doubt, however, that many of those mega-SUV owners now think it was such a smart idea when they’re shelling out fortunes for fill-ups while watching their resale values tumble.

And to think that same president who encouraged Americans to rush out and buy these enormous gas guzzlers now proclaims the nation as being addicted to oil.

Diana Sevanian is a writer and Santa Clarita resident. Her column reflects her own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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