I’ve decided not to buy a car here in Brisbane. Public transportation is good, parking and petrol are expensive, and I can’t imagine I would really need a car that often. I figure if I need to make a trip in a car I will just rent one for the weekend.
But I’ve ridden in cars as a passenger a few times since my arrival. There are a few things I’ve noticed during these outings:
1. Everyone has a GPS. And the GPS isn’t always that useful. There is a giant river running through Brisbane, there are only a few bridges open to vehicles, and most of the streets are either one way, or two lanes, one running in each direction. So one wrong turn, or getting stuck behind an accident can easily delay your commute for an hour.
2. I often feel as if we are driving too close to the medians and that we are about to jump a curb. Throughout most of my time in Africa I lived in countries where they drove on the left. In fact, I even took driving lessons and got my Botswana driver’s license. But there are lots of very tight roundabouts and traffic calming measures which often make me feel like we are about to crash at any moment, and
3. Everyone names their cars. In fact, some people not only name their cars, they also name their portable GPS. In the last few days I have met Pearl (a beautiful Subaru BRZ sports car), Sheryl (a portable GPS who got us lost downtown in the middle of Friday night rush hour), and Belinda (which it seems is not only a very popular car name, but the most common female name here).
Funny enough, I was just noticing the car/GPS naming prevalence, and then last night on the news they were talking about the most popular car names in Australia. Approximately half of all Australians name their cars and if the names aren’t related to the car make, model or colour (Suzy- for a Suzuki or Getzy- for the Hyundai Getz), then movie characters seem to be popular. Some of the top choices were Kermit and Bumblebee (from Transformers).
The number 1 car name? That’s right. Dory.
But my favourite part of the news story was the comparison the newscasters made between car names in Australia and baby names in the U.S.: “Dory and Kermit may be a little cartoonish, but they are more practical than what Hollywood celebrities name their kids: Summer Rain? Buzz Michelangelo? North West? Is this a kid or a compass?”