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As an officially sanctioned curmudgeon, someone who cares about the environment and consistent with salaries paid at the University of Northern Iowa, I drive a 16-year-old economy car.

It has an engine about the size of a shoebox, and it feels and sounds like I am going 70 mph when the car is struggling to go 40 mph.

In this lies a pet peeve.

All summer and extending into this fall, everywhere I went I soon had a vehicle on my back bumper demanding I either get out of the way or speed up. It is true I’m usually going a bit slower. But, in fact, it doesn’t seem to matter that much, if I’m 10 mph below the speed limit, or 10 above, within minutes someone is impatiently demanding I get out of their way.

Twice this summer, I was even honked at because I would not immediately make a right turn against a red light in still-moving traffic.

But here is the odd part.

Almost all of the drivers demanding my space had two things in common: First, they were driving the largest vehicle of its type, i.e., if it was an SUV, it was a very large SUV, or if it was a truck, it was a large truck (as if anyone these days would buy a small one). The second commonality was rather strange. These vehicles were almost always white. One would think they would be racy red or maybe a menacing black. But no, they were almost without exception, white.

So what is it about drivers of very large white vehicles that drive them (no pun intended) to be so demanding and publicly rude?

I don’t know, but following the proper scientific method, we can create an hypothesis. What are the facts?

First, large vehicles are expensive and visually so. It is obvious the grill on one of these things would cost more than the trade-in value of my car. Modern trucks are one of the most costly rip-offs of the decade and yet certain people swarm into the dealerships to buy these behemoths that should sell for half as much.

Second, white vehicles are currently popular. So my antagonists want to be “in” and also to demonstrate to the world they can afford to waste resources (both private and public) by driving the largest vehicles on the road.

Research has shown, on average, these types of people are more likely to ignore road courtesy, be rude in public and give less to charity.

So, my research has shown the rich really are evil, and I can feel superior and morally correct by driving my 16-year-old economy car.

But, of course, if everyone did this, almost all the people who build cars would be out of work, almost everyone else who survives on car-related services would be looking for other jobs. The government wouldn’t have enough gas tax money to repair roads (my beater gets 40 mpg), and the economy would tank.

Darn! Paradise foiled again.

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Dennis Clayson is a marketing professor at the University of Northern Iowa. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not reflect those of the UNI. of Northern Iowa.


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