I recently became acquainted with one of my neighbors. Actually, “acquainted” isn’t really the right term. More like: “anonymously berated for owning and operating a giant yellow Hummer.”
Here’s what happened: I walked out to my street on Friday morning and discovered an angry note tucked under the driver’s side windshield wiper of my giant yellow Hummer. You’d know all about the angry note if you followed me on Twitter, because I posted a photo of it for everyone to see, and read, and examine, and mock ruthlessly. I also posted a picture of my response, which was written in thick black pen to give the impression that my Hummer might be owned by a crazy person with a large knife collection.
But before we get into details about the note, a little background. I purchased my giant yellow Hummer about two months ago, following a Jalopnik post where I asked you to help me choose a car to buy and write about. And since then, I’ve parked it on the street in front of my house, day in and day out, without a single issue. Except, of course, for the daily disappointment that comes when I walk outside and remember that I do, in fact, own a Hummer.
That all changed on Friday. On Friday, I walked outside and discovered the following note on my Hummer:
This is not an appropriate parking spot for this huge vehicle. It blocks traffic, is an eye sore to the neighborhood and also blocks street vision.
Please move it.
Now, a lot of people respond to these neighbor disputes in ways that escalate the situation. For instance: he leaves a passive-aggressive note on my car. I kill a rat and leave it under his doormat. He slashes my tires. I burn his family.
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But I had a different response: I stood there. I read the note. And then I laughed and laughed like a small child who just witnessed a brightly-colored mascot fall down the stairs at a minor league baseball game.
The primary reason that I laughed is that the anonymous letter writer referred to my Hummer as an “eyesore to the neighborhood.” He is right, of course: my giant yellow Hummer sits there, all the time, outside my house, constantly reminding everyone that one of their neighbors probably attends the kind of event where people chant “Drill Baby Drill.” So I could see how this might be an annoyance.
But here’s the problem: I live in this young, hip neighborhood in Philadelphia that is… what I think we would call… developing. In other words: on one hand, you’ll have a guy throw out the box for his new subzero refrigerator. And then you’ll have a homeless person come by an hour later and take the box, so he can live in it.
As a result, this neighborhood is full of eyesores, all of which are every bit as offensive as my giant yellow Hummer. For proof, here are some neighborhood photos I took on a 10-minute walk this morning, right before I wrote this column:
So the “eyesore” thing seems a bit overblown, and you kind of start to wonder, after seeing those images, if maybe my angry neighbor just doesn’t like how my Hummer looks. This, too, makes sense, considering that my Hummer’s styling sort of resembles a giant yellow file cabinet with wheels.
But here’s the thing: one of my neighbors owns a first-generation Honda CR-V that has those awful steel wheels and a bunch of unsightly scratches down the side. And I happen to think that is a bit of an eyesore. But do I send my neighbor a passive-aggressive note telling them to move their CR-V? No way! I just shoot them dirty looks and occasionally leave advertisements in their mailbox for the Mazda CX-5.
And now we come to the angry neighbor’s other complaint: the Hummer’s size. And I admit it’s sort of on the larger side, in the same sense that getting to space is sort of a long flight.
But here’s the thing: I make sure the Hummer doesn’t even come close to blocking the road, by using a tried-and-true method I like to call parking on the sidewalk. As a result, the Hummer actually sticks out a lot less than many other neighborhood parkers, as you can see in these photos I’ve taken over the last two days:
The neighbor’s final complaint is that the Hummer blocks street vision. Unfortunately, this makes no sense: street vision is not a real thing, because the street does not have eyes. It is a street.
So I’m a little upset about this letter, because I believe my poor Hummer has been singled out for its size, and its color, and its width, and the unfortunate fact that its fuel economy ratings place me somewhere on the environmentalist watch list between “baby seal killer” and “guy who throws away entire piece of paper when there’s only a small mark on it.”
So, you might be wondering, what are you going to do about this travesty?
Well, the answer is quite simple: number one, I’ve already replied to the angry neighbor with a note of my own – a long, disgusted diatribe that manages to include the phrase, “Welcome to the big city! I hear there are wider roads out in the suburbs.” And number two: I’m going to increase my insurance coverage.
@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn’t work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.