As I came down the front steps of Southampton Town Hall with my newly acquired handicapped parking sticker, I had a jumble of mixed emotions. First, a sense of sad resignation that I was able to qualify for the sticker, followed by a sense of exhilaration, that finally, I had gotten something extra from the government usually reserved for small groups of people with special interests. Now armed with a sense of entitlement for the first time in my life, (having never realized growing up that I was the beneficiary of white privilege) I sought to find the nearest handicapped parking space for future reference. There, just a few yards away from the entrance to Town Hall, was what used to be such a spot, however, instead of the universally recognizable blue lines and wheelchair outline logo, the lines were green and there was a sign, which read:
RESERVED VISITOR PARKING Alternative Fuel and Hybrid Vehicles ONLY
So now my mixed emotions turned to anger, which is usually what happens when me and government comingle. As I turned around to go back into Town hall to demand an explanation, there was yet another sign, which read:
This Marker Represents the Town of Southampton’s Commitment to promoting and encouraging Fair Treatment, dignity and respect for all people.
ANTI -BIAS TASK FORCE
Really? Fair treatment? Dignity ? Respect? I can go hobble off to get my car a block away so some *&%$#@!!slacker can park their Prius right in the front row? If they’re so wonderful on gas and for the planet, let them drive around aimlessly looking for a spot. Now, my anger turned to rage, which comforted me, since I detest mixed emotions. I stormed into the building, back to the Town clerk and after hyperventilating several moments, I composed myself long enough to ask:
“Where do I apply for the politically correct parking sticker?”
Oddly enough, the clerk seemed to know what I meant, since she said;
“I know what you mean, the parking spot in front has created some controversy, but no, we don’t have P/C parking stickers” and we both laughed.
Laughter, the best medicine after the government has shoved a bitter pill down your throat. I laugh a lot these days, but it’s not really funny, it makes me sick.
I left the building for a second time, now with a focused determination, with Priuses being the target of my wrath. This, because they seem to be the incarnation and symbol of all hybrid vehicles, probably because they were one of the first and definitely the most successful of their ilk. After reaching my car gasping for air while my knees swelled up and buckled under me, I had one last stop to make in the village, the Post Office, yet another symbol of government incompetence, the only known business monopoly to go bankrupt. After avoiding several head on collisions with customers of Schmidt’s, since the entrances to both were designed by a blind government traffic planner in such a way as to promote head-on collisions, I pulled into the PO parking lot. There were four special parking spaces close to the building, the first two, handicapped spots, which were taken, the next two ,even closer which were not. Not only not taken, that is, but they also were not handicapped spots. Again the signs read:
LOW EMISSION FUEL EFFICIENT VEHICLE PARKING
I parked my gas guzzling, high horsepower, high octane, hole-in-the -ozone layer expanding, five liter, Mustang GT Convertible with my BAD 4 YOU license plates, there anyway. An act of civil disobedience, as I was Jonesing for a fight if anyone had the nerve to say anything to me, besides, I had my cane by my side. After purchasing a roll of forever stamps, another government lie, (they only last me about 4 months), I returned to my evil steed. Lo and behold, there, parked next to me, was a Prius, or as I now call them, a Pious, and it was pulling out of its spot. I decided to follow it, see what kind of wonderful person would own such a rolling icon of concern and humanitarianism. (and possibly encounter Mother Theresa) I followed it back through Main Street, down to Gin Lane where it came to a halt, waited for a motorized gate to open and then disappeared but not before I got a glimpse of where it stopped. It parked between an SUV stretch limo, and a Hummer M1, which was next to the Helicopter landing pad, which was adjacent to the heated swimming pool (I could see steam rising off it) all of which was behind a fifteen thousand square foot part time residence /summer bungalow.
For me, this was an A-HA moment, as I suddenly understood the meaning of the green movement, for I was green with envy. I paused there for a moment, realized that although I could never possibly own a McMansion, I could afford a McMuffin, and maybe a Prius. So I went to McDonalds to have breakfast and consider the possibilities.
Since I would never, never, ever judge an entire mass of people based on just a few personal experiences, I decided to do some research on the Prius. In order to accomplish this, I had to think for a few moments about who manufactures them, as the name is used more often than the maker. It only took a brief time, of course it was a —Toyota —-although, I thought how ironic, the very automobile that would save the world, was brought to us by the same people that brought us Pearl Harbor, Nuclear Annihilation, and Pokemon cards. I googled—- Prius demographics, –that’s a deceptive, fancy word for profiling—but it’s okay, especially since the demographic for Prius owners was as follows: White, well educated, wealthy and wibewal (BabaWaaWaa speak, for liberal) (used here only to complete the alliteration) the breakdown being 14% repugnican, 38% democrat, 38% other (presumably candidates for sainthood)
My next step would be to test this demographic, by going to the nearest Toyota dealership, which was in Riverhead, as only luxury Toyota’s (the Lexus) were sold in Southampton. So as not to appear like the typical Prius buyer, and the subsequent label SUCKER on my forehead, I decided to go as the anti-Prius owner, kind of like an anti-Christ, which is how many feel about you if you don’t drive one. I dressed myself based on Hollywood’s perception of the average dumb white American as portrayed in TV shows like Duck Dynasty, Moonshiners, and Honey Boo-boo, which is to say, camouflage bib overalls, and some type of dead animal skin on top of your head. My normal attire, as it turns out. This disguise must have worked better than I thought, since I walked into the showroom and was treated like a pariah. The usual salesmen/predators/sharks/ all avoided me. Finally I asked the secretary in my best/worst hillbilly accent:
“Cain sumbody hep me?
“Oh, yess …. Sir” (hesitantly said Jan, the receptionist) “What are you looking for?”
“A car” I replied, trying to act as dumb as I could—“you know, one of them there inbreds”
“You mean Hybrids?”
“Hybrid, Inbred, what difference does it make? Look I’m sort of in a hurry, so could you give me the elevator pitch?”
“Sure, as you might know 15 years ago Prius changed the world by bringing Hybrid technology into the mainstream. Its high efficiency gasoline and electric engines have reduced the volume of emissions contributing to global warming. Also…..
“Whoa, whoa, whoa stop the elevator, Jan, I’ve got a question. Does the Prius come with air-conditioning, to counteract global warming?
“Actually Joe, the Prius is available with remote a/c”
“What does that mean, Jan?”
“ It means you can turn it on without even being in the car.”
“That doesn’t sound very environmental to me, it just sounds mental.”
“Let me get down to the important things I look for in a car, ok?”
“Does it come in camouflage colors?”
“Does it come with a gun rack?”
“Does it come with an Obama/Biden sticker? Or a co-existence bumper sticker?”
“No, no, and we do not endorse any political affiliations.”
“Well, Joe, I get the feeling the Prius is not for you, but may I make a suggestion?”
“If you go out the front entrance turn left onto route 58, go ½ mile then make another left onto Kroemer Avenue, three- tenths of a mile on your right, you will find what you’re looking for.”
And so, I followed Jan’s directions and found myself in front of Mid-Island Auto wreckers, or what used to be known as a junkyard.
Somehow, I felt a sense of belonging.
Especially when I envisioned it filled with Priuses.