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Monday, July 15, 2024
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The colour Aubergine

A couple of years ago, I inherited a small car. The manufacturer calls the colour ‘Aubergine’, which means it’s purple. Darker than the Farmers signage but not quite Cadbury.

It’s a great little car, economical and grunty over the Hill. There’s also a cup/phone holder to the right of the steering wheel – genius.

I’ve been driving for decades [one of the Masterton teens who got a full licence the day after turning 15 in the 1980s]. I drive to the speed limit, let people into gaps and indicate at roundabouts.

And motorists should be forgiving. People make little mistakes on the road, just like elsewhere in life. A hand wave, or flash of lights in apology, and we can all move on.

But since the purple car became my mode of transport, I’ve noticed a shift in on-road behaviour.

It seems that when you drive a small car that isn’t black, white or grey, to many other motorists you must be elderly, have no sense of direction, be indecisive and block the road, and drive at the pace of a snail. People are astonished when I accelerate to the speed limit at the start of the open road, their plans to overtake dashed.

It came to a head when my eldest child started learning to drive. That usually meant us – L-plates clearly displayed – trundling around Masterton with an angry man in a ute glued to the back bumper. Close enough to see the crazed urgency in their eyes through the rear-view mirrors.

Small purple cars with L-plates must be as frustrating to those drivers as a pedestrian crossing, amber traffic light, or speed hump.

I must show a scrap of kindness to men in utes – the worst event was when my teenager was patiently waiting to turn right into busy Chapel St, giving way to both directions. A woman pulled up behind us. After waiting about 10 seconds, she attempted to drive around our car, obviously enraged that my teenager was dawdling.

At that moment, the road cleared and Chapel St became a four-lane motorway, as both our vehicles turned right, exactly side-by-side. I stuck my cell phone against the window and pretended to film her [my middle-aged self couldn’t turn on the video function fast enough, but she didn’t know that].

She gave us the finger and zoomed off. The teenager was unfazed, while I was the colour Aubergine, with accompanying noise.

In the carpark of a Masterton superstore, I had neatly parked when a man in a black SUV pulled alongside. He emerged with two children and pointed at my car. “What a stupid colour,” he crowed.

He had parked in a diagonal configuration across two spaces. I could have commented on what sort of “man” that made him. I didn’t – but let myself daydream about him finding a damson stripe along the side of his beast. Because I couldn’t possibly reverse in a straight line.

Perhaps plum-coloured car drivers do have a wild streak. In March, police in Palmerston North issued 100 infringements, impounded five cars and arrested two people on a single night during ‘Operation Purple’. I enjoyed those mental images before admitting the name probably didn’t relate to car colour.

Although, Queensland police recently seized a customised purple Lamborghini linked to dozens of offences, including speeding and drug driving, which landed its 28-year-old driver in jail.

In New Zealand, it’s comforting to know that purple cars make the bottom three colours most likely to be stolen – usually along with pink and cream – according to police data.

My purple car is… purple. If you see it around town, give me a wave.

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