When I was an accountant way back, I drove a BMW, a story I was reminded of on Saturday when out and about with client friends Diane & Susie. I cannot remember why I was re-telling it, but it illustrated some point or another.
I did enjoy my Beamer. It was a 5 series, a 535i to be exact for the petrol heads amongst us, and it was Lapis Lazuli (blue) in BMW speak. It purred. It went like shit off a stick. It wasn’t particularly fast away from the lights, but it could see off the boy racers a few hundred yards down the road. Talk poke to me.
The best thing about a BMW is that it really is the Ultimate Driving Machine, which means when you get into it and drive somewhere, when you get out again you feel better. And what more could you ask for in a car, I wonder? Apart, possibly, from it starting to do all your chores for you.
But truth to be told, part of BMW ownership didn’t sit quite comfortably with me. Driving it did, owning it less so. Cars were deemed in those days to say something about you, about who you are, and whatever BMW ownership said about me, I didn’t like it. To the extent that when I visited clients I would park it round the back somewhere. I thought I was being elegant. I didn’t want them thinking “oh, look at her. Who does she think she is? She must be charging us too much if she can drive a car like that” etc. That’s what my coach would call an hallucination. You have no idea what other people are thinking actually, so you just make it up.
I drove that car until someone wrote it off by driving into the side wing in a street in Kingston-upon-Thames in the mid nineties. I could still show you where the Beamer died with a bit of a lump in my throat, even after all this time.
An accounting colleague of mine, Henry, who taught me quite a lot of everything I know about balancing the books, Henry had a white one and he, being a bloke, he parked his right out front. He wanted his clients to know precisely how well he was doing. He wanted his clients to hire him because he was a successful accountant. Whatever others were thinking about him, Henry couldn’t give a flying fig.
And looking back, confident woman that I am today, I think he was probably right although I might not drive one today. I’m kinda over cars. And things. And status symbols. I don’t really care what I drive anymore and these days we care about the planet and gas guzzling and I still care about elegance and sufficiency and efficiency without ostentation. Not that I think a Beamer is necessarily ostentatious, it just doesn’t fit with how I see myself now – or then, apparently, otherwise I’d have been parking it out front too. And to hell with them!
What do you drive? Do you have any feelings about it? And if it’s “flash” where do you park it – where I did, or where Henry does? What does your car say about you or to you? Is yours mute? Or does it purr?