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My car is an attention whore.
June 13, 2008 9:06 PM   Subscribe

This is going to sound ridiculous, I think. I got a Honda Fit Sport in August and since then -- well, especially these last few months, with gas more expensive than ever (!) -- it's been grabbing me a lot of attention. If it's relevant for local etiquette reasons, I'm in the US, in Fairfield County, Connecticut. And the car is black, since "stealth" wasn't available as an option.

People honk their horns and make the "roll down your window" gesture, they rap on my window when I'm parked, and they shout across streets and parking lots to ask me about it. This happened three times just today!

I love my car! I think it's great, and half the time, I'm so much more than happy to report on its mileage, exactly how many people and their tons of stuff it'll cart about, and how it'll fit in parking spots the size of an airplane bathroom. I do a nice job representin', I do believe. I love people, too, and it's never a bad idea to make a new friend. However...

The other half of the time, I just don't want to be a Honda spokeswoman. Sometimes I'm having a conversation already on my cell phone. Sometimes I'm preoccupied listening to an audio study guide or a lecture podcast, trying to nail something down before an exam. Sometimes I'm parked there in my pajamas with my hair unattractively piled on top of my head, waiting for my son to come out of somewhere. Sometimes I'm just feeling shy. When I'm by myself and a man wants me to roll down my window, it can make me anxious. I'm not a big snob, I promise. Just sometimes, it's a bad time.

I know there are other Fit owners here. How do you handle this? Are you always gracious and graceful? What do you do when it's seriously not convenient to have a long conversation with a total stranger? I'm sure there are several other types of cars that must garner such attention in these MPG-conscious times. What do folks do?
posted by houseofdanie to Human Relations (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Don't own a Fit, but what about some bumper stickers or car magnets that might make you less appealing as a random person to talk to? Nothing like "my other car is a casket" or "my kid beat up your honor student" or whatever, maybe just something that pegs you as someone who is really busy or in a rush.

You could also feign answering your cell phone.
posted by mdonley at 9:29 PM on June 13, 2008


Change your license plate to say 40 MPG. Problem solved.
posted by brain cloud at 9:30 PM on June 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


My father fell in love with the Honda Fit when it came out, though he's still driving his Pilot. (I only liked that it came in orange, myself.) I'm not sure what the big deal about them would be, it's not as though they're an especially unusual model - at least here in southern California.

As for not wanting to be bothered by people like this: if you're talking on your cell phone, you have every right to make that "Not now" look at whoever else is trying to grab your attention. If they don't take a hint, a more blunt "I'm in the middle of a conversation, sorry" should get your point across. Same goes for listening to music, or a lecture, anything where it's obvious you're concentrating. And when you're not, look like you are. If someone's motioning for you to roll down your window, just shake your head and go back to whatever you're doing, looking intensely like you're in the middle of something important. You might come off as weird and aloof, but what the hell - they're strangers and you don't necessarily owe them your time, so I wouldn't sweat about it.
posted by Bakuun at 9:30 PM on June 13, 2008


Xtracycle gives every customer a bunch of business card sized FAQs to hand out to people who stop them and ask about the bike. Maybe you could make something similar?
posted by hades at 10:02 PM on June 13, 2008


You could always just put the fit's website URL (automobiles.honda.com/fit/) in your backseat windows, and something about "Yes, I love my 40 mpg. No, I don't want to tell you about it. Go read the friggin' website."
posted by SpecialK at 10:50 PM on June 13, 2008


I get this with the first-gen Prius I drive, although I haven't had a situation where I'm being interrupted when I'm doing something else. A bumpersticker sounds like a good idea - "[X] mpg! Call Your Honda Dealer Today!" Or something more clever and less dorky than that.

I get approached mostly at gas stations, and occasionally in the parking lot of the grocery store, and once at the tire place, while I was waiting for the tires to be rotated. Since it's usually in a public place with other people close by, I'm usually cool with talking to anybody who has questions about it, but I understand why you wouldn't be.
posted by rtha at 11:11 PM on June 13, 2008


Are you a really attractive woman?
Is it mostly guys trying to talk to you?
Why would anyone want to talk to a stranger about their car, unless it was like some expensive, rare sportscar or something.
posted by baserunner73 at 12:20 AM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


That's funny. It will probably pass. When I first got my honda scooter in '03 I felt like the honda scooter spokes-girl. "What's the milage, how much did you pay for it, what's the insurance, do you need a license... " And yeah sometimes I wasn't in the mood for it. There weren't that many of us around then, but over the years the neighborhood has gotten more scooter drivers and it's not so unusual now. Small cars will probably have the same shift. In a few years or less most of the cars around will be small, the questions will stop.

In the meantime, maybe give a polite wave, but then shift your body language back to yourself, don't present yourself as open to conversation, hopefully they'll read the right cues and go back to what their doing. You're under no obligation to roll your window down and talk.
posted by dog food sugar at 3:41 AM on June 14, 2008


If you combine, like window tint and a subwoofer with some anti-gun-control and Insane Clown Posse stickers, I think you'll find that nobody wants to talk to you.
posted by box at 4:54 AM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Since unleaded has recently topped AU$1.50 per litre here, I get some of those hmmmm... looks whenever I fill up my Mira (ten feet long, 3 cylinders, 5 litres per 100km - that's 47 miles per US gallon). I love high fuel prices. I can drive in, fill up, pay, and as I'm leaving, the schmoe at the next pump who was half way through filling his never-been-off-the-bitumen SUV is still doing that with $120 showing on his pump and rising. I always smile and wave and drive off feeling absolutely insufferably smug. Don't say you never saw it coming, stupid V8 people.

You have absolutely no obligation to be friends with people who were slower on the uptake than you. But people will catch on, and you won't be a novelty for long. In the mean time, just be as polite as you can manage, but no more so.
posted by flabdablet at 5:39 AM on June 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Well, I drive a Fit. While it does get some attention, it is not really a rare sight any more. They've sold enough that the average small city probably has a dozen of them driving around. American sales are up 50% over last year, so to the extent that they're still a novelty, it probably won't last long.

People wanting to ask about my car doesn't bother me much personally, so I can't really help there, but it's just like any other situation where some passing stranger wants to chat in any public place; you're under no obligation to play Honda spokeswoman just because you bought one of their cars. You may feel like you have some privacy when you're in your car, but that is partly an illusion which obviously some people do not respect as much as you or I. Stopped at a traffic light is one thing, but if you're parked with the windows up it does seem a bit intrusive for someone to bother you. Just a matter of social custom, obviously some people see it as more or less equivalent to sitting outside on a park bench or whatever. Nothing much you can do about that. Interrupting your phone conversation on the other hand is just rude, and I for one would be less inclined to be courteous in that case.

So anyway, it will pass. In the mean time, just be glad you don't have a genuinely rare car... the Fit is totally commonplace and unremarkable compared to what I used to drive, and even that was nothing compared to the attention you'd attract in a Lotus Elise or something.
posted by sfenders at 6:16 AM on June 14, 2008


I've dealt with this a lot. I've had a first generation Insight, a very funky '70s classic car, and a rally car. But I just love talking about them. Are there any more unusual cars in your area, say a SmartForTwo? If so you can sort of brush people off with something like, "Yeah it's great, but keep your eyes out for the Smart Car!" and just smile and wave.
posted by cocoagirl at 6:45 AM on June 14, 2008


I drive an old classic car, that's instantly recognisable. I get lots of people coming up to me saying "I/my father/my school teacher used to drive one of these" or asking me if I know why the car was made in the way it is? And then invariably proceed to tell me why, even though I've already explained that yes I do in fact know.

Most of the time, I'm in no mood to stop and chat to complete strangers about my car. Asking for directions is one thing, chatting about the fact that it gets 60 mpg, was built to carry a French peasant to market, has a roll back roof, etc, is another.

To deal with it, I just smile and nod, and then quickly come up with some spurious excuse as to why I have to be somewhere else 5 minutes ago. Or, if I can, I just ignore the person trying to talk to me, but obviously this depends on where I am in relation to the car. The fact that I look somewhat like a thug sometimes helps when I give people the death stare.

You don't owe complete strangers anything. If you don't want to stop and chat, then don't. Someone you've never met before monopolising your time without even asking you if it's OK or if you want to discuss the subject in question is being rather rude. In that case, I find it to be perfectly acceptable to be equally rude back.

If you're open to it, tell a lie and say that you don't own the car, you've just borrowed it from a friend. Or act like you don't speak English. Or just tell people that you're already on the phone or listening to a podcast. If they don't like it, tough. They aren't paying you for your time, and you don't owe them anything.
posted by Solomon at 6:58 AM on June 14, 2008


I had this, I bought a MINI in the first couple of months of release. People wanted to talk all the time. I got my dealer to give me some brochures and cards, kept them in the car, and if I was really in a hurry, just told the folks 'I'd love to talk, but I gotta run, try this out' and handed over the papers. Generally worked pretty well.
posted by pupdog at 9:24 AM on June 14, 2008


Like puppies and small children, a cool car or bike is a great social lubricant.
posted by moof at 11:30 AM on June 14, 2008


I love the Honda Fit. But in Fairfield County, CT, no one is going to give that car a second look. This is an area that has more German luxury cars per capita than Germany and Ferraris and Maseratis are yawned-at.

There are pockets of Fairfield County that are very "wife-swappy" and "swingy".

My guess is you're hot. You can take it from there.
posted by Zambrano at 11:44 AM on June 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Very mysterious. I too have a black Honda Fit Sport in Fairfield county and in the year I've owned it, only two people have made comments about it, one of whom was a fellow Fit driver. So I'm guessing there's some extra factor at play, such as people especially wanting to talk to you for some reason, or your car being extra shiny (mine was last washed in early April), or the neighborliness of your particular town, etc. Or maybe where I am, people don't want to talk about MPG because it makes them look like they're worried about money.
posted by xo at 1:08 PM on June 14, 2008


Like pupdog, I had a MINI Cooper, a year after release but in a Midwestern town with no MINI dealerships within 3 hours. For the first few months, people were constantly stopping me to talk about it, so I came up with 3-4 stock responses to the same questions, ran through those when they came up.

I would also guess that it is more than the car, for the main reason that I don't think a ton of men would be falling over a Honda Fit. No offense to male Fit owners, I just admitted I had a MINI Cooper.

Get your windows tinted. People won't be as eager to come up and talk to you, and it's easier to pretend you don't see them.
posted by shinynewnick at 1:31 PM on June 14, 2008


Hey, folks, thanks! I love the idea of changing the license plate to something like "40 MPG." Hah.

For those who can't believe anyone would comment on such a regular car, I know! I think it might be because it recently made a couple of top-ten lists -- best MPG and cars that retain good resale value, I think. It's not a flashy car, it's certainly not an expensive car. I think it's cute, but not as cute as, say, a MINI! I want to diaper every MINI I see and feed it from a tiny spoon.

No, I'm not really hot. I'm not bad, but not anything that stops traffic!

Oh, and I live in Norwalk, which is in Fairfield County, but not the home of many exotic cars for rich people. It's not status-conscious Greenwich or the like.

Your responses are much appreciated. I think I'll need to work on not being so very polite that I'm a pushover for those who don't mind interrupting me.
posted by houseofdanie at 2:00 PM on June 14, 2008


My wife and I each have a Fit...mine is a blue Fit, hers is a white Fit Sport. We have indeed had the conversation with strangers, but only once or twice have I been accosted to tell people about the car!

So... I feel your pain! And I would also be annoyed if I were stopped as often as you are to be a spokesperson for Honda!!
posted by newfers at 2:57 PM on June 14, 2008


My wife and I used to get that a lot in our VW New Beetle (in the year 2001, when we were one of about three in our city.) Shocking true stories:

- I got pulled over by a police officer who politely gave me a verbal warning about a taillight, and then wanted to chat for 20 minutes about how great the car was.
- On another occasion, a couple of disheveled street people walked up to me in a parking lot, and when I rolled down the window expecting a "spare change?" request, they asked about the car and talked about how one of them used to have one back in the 60s...
- We drove down the Las Vegas Strip, right in front of the Bellagio Fountains, and about 15 people turned and pointed at our car!

The good news: it will go away. After the Beetle became more common, we were able to fade into the woodwork once more. As quickly as Honda Fits are selling, I think it will happen quickly for you.

P.S. My Prius gets 50 MPG and only two strangers have ever talked to me about it. Now I'm jealous.
posted by mmoncur at 8:16 PM on June 14, 2008


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