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Stan’s Stuff

By Stan Stewart, co-owner of The Mercury Bay Informer

Our Cars Will Bury Us!

In a world of ever more luxurious seats I have the best chair. It is endlessly adjustable, both base and back, and it is heated – two different modes. I can toast my bottom and maintain the back at a warm glow. On warmer days my seat can be surrounded with a cooling whisper or lively breeze, whichever I prefer. And as I sit there I have surround sound of utmost clarity. Sitting on my gorgeous chair, I have heard notes in my classical favorites, I have never heard before.

This seat is stock standard issue in my 8-year-old Honda. Even our mundane cars have luxurious fittings which surpass the comfort and sensual experience of anything we can buy for our lounge room. I can remember when cars were sold based on horsepower or 0-to-60 acceleration. Now the selling points are the latest creature comforts. Even as I write, I am sure car designers are dreaming up some new features which will pamper and please enough to sell the ‘new model’. What will these be? Seats which not only mould you but also massage you. Or what about perfume that puffs automatically at the slightest hint of sweaty odour or any other bodily smell?

Recently, I followed a Lamborghini ($200,000NZ ) for ten kilometres as we crawled through Auckland traffic. I wondered if his seats were comfier and his sound system clearer. I will never find out because my days of getting into close-to-the-ground sports cars are over.

Whatever! We love our cars. I bought my first car on my 18th birthday and obtained my full license on the same day (the earliest it can be obtained in Australia). My 1927 Riley 9 had no comfort but it bestowed on me prestige amongst the members of our youth group, especially the females.

Now days every teen I know, just like I was, wants a car as soon as legally possible. The driveways and front lawns of many homes are primarily parking spaces for the family cars. And where will it end? Our streets and communities are being cannibalized by car parking spaces. Sometimes I think the needs of the car receive more consideration than the needs of people!

I saw the sign above near the hospital where I have been living (almost) for the past eight weeks. I don’t know the area it refers to but I agree with the sentiment. Our love affair with our own car has to cool down. In my last months in Auckland I was beginning to be infatuated with buses and trains.

I realise they are quite the best places for people-watchers like me.

I have been thinking. Imagine in my dotage I became rich and famous (that would be a joke) and I had a big funeral (not likely - I am a scatter my ashes to the wind type), I know exactly where I would like my burial plot. It would be on the lawn under the spreading Pohutukawa with an unobstructed view of the train tracks. But how would the crowds of mourners get there? There are only ten parking spaces. They would have to walk and for some that would be a long way.

And our precious, pampered cars would look on smiling. “If they want the kind of comfort we can give, they should dig up the lawn and lay more bitumen. These humans need to get their priorities right.”

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