When my husband's company moved our family to England in 2002, they gave us a company car. My hubby was over the moon because it was an expensive car. A Mercedes! Or maybe it was a BMW. I couldn’t tell you what it was because I have a rare condition similar to prosopagnosia: the inability to recognize people’s faces ("face blindness") which actor Brad Pitt claims to suffer from, which totally explains why he always marries iconic women with unforgettable faces. (How else would he ever find them on the Red Carpet?)
Now I'm just like Brad—except I suffer from the "car" version of prosopagnosia: CARSopagnosia or "car blindness". All cars look exactly alike to me. I suspect that I may be the only person on the planet who suffers from it because everyone else seems to recognize their car in a parking lot.
Now it’s not like I couldn’t pick out our Mercedes (or BMW?) on a daily basis. I could. It was that black car that was always parked in our rowhouse’s private parking spot. I saw that car every single day through the kitchen window, so you'd think that it would look familiar. But it didn't. Therefore, when I actually drove it somewhere, I had to carefully memorize the surroundings of where I parked it so that I could find it again. Usually this task was easy for two reasons. (A) I usually avoided driving altogether because the crazy Brits drive on the wrong side of the road and (B) I always found a remote parking spot away from all the other cars because parallel parking on the left side of the road is even scarier than driving on the left side of the road. (Both driving and parallel parking often included a terrified scream by either me or one of my regular passengers—that being my twin sons. That's why they preferred to take trains. As did I.)
My twins and I pictured below at the local train station.
We were likely thinking the same thing . . .
Despite placing their lives at risk, I usually took my sons with me when I drove somewhere because they always helped me find/identify our car after I parked it.
But eventually I did lose our car. In my defense, I was not the one who parked it. Dan had taken it to the BMW car place (or was it Mercedes?) to get some thingamajig fixed and asked me to pick it up while he was out of town. So I taxied there and paid the bill. Then the gentleman handed me the key and pointed to the large parking lot outside and said, “Your car is right over there.” I thanked him and walked outside.
Then I remembered that I had carsopagnosia and I had no idea which car in THE SEA OF FREAKING CARS was ours. And I was too embarrassed to go back inside to ask.
Since we didn't technically own the car, we kept the interior clean and free of personal items, which ruled out any clues I might find by looking inside the cars. All I had to go on was the color of our car: black. Unfortunately, black is a very popular car color in the United Kingdom. Over half of the cars in the lot were black. And I hadn’t previously thought to take any actions to make our black car more recognizable—like hanging giant fuzzy dice on the rearview mirror.
“Currr-rap! How will I ever find my car?” I muttered to myself as I covertly skittered up and down the rows and rows of they-all-look-alike-to-me automobiles while glancing at the showroom windows to see if the fellow at the counter was watching me and wondering if I was crazy as I darted in a low crouch from car to car to car to car to car . . .
After about 10 minutes of searching, I decided to admit defeat and ask for assistance because the car place would be closing soon and I didn't want to spend the night in the parking lot. I turned to go back inside but then panicked as I thought, "What if our car is one of the cars right beside the door. He’ll think I’m such an idiot. And he’ll be CORRECT! Dang it! Okay, Connie . . . Get a grip. You have a Master’s Degree for Pete’s sake. Surely you can think of a way to figure out which car is yours!”
That's when my inner Jason Bourne emerged and a Secret Agent-ish light bulb went off in my head. I swung around and began walking briskly through the cars, trying to look nonchalant (like I was car-shopping) whilst clicking the unlock button on the key to make the matching car beep at me. Soon a car honked and flashed its lights. I practically executed a back handspring from pure relief. I dashed to the car, leapt inside and tore out of the parking lot at a Jason Bourne speed.
Of course, I still had to drive all the way home on the wrong side of the road. All by myself. But I didn’t scream. Not even once. I was flush with confidence. After all, I had successfully identified my car through sheer cunning.
As I parked in our little driveway behind our rowhouse I smiled to myself and whispered, “Yeah, baby! Now that I have figured out how to tell which car is ours I can go anywhere and do anything!"
Pictured above is our Mercedes . . . Or BMW . . . ?
I honestly can't tell what kind of car this is in this photo.
Please note the bang-up parking job I did, and by bang-up job I mean I didn't hit either of my sons and I also pulled in MOST of the way.
Also note that the passing car in the background is BLACK.
Told you it was a popular color.
And so . . .
Even though I learned that I can find/identify a car by its key, I just don't like to take chances. After all, my key's battery could die and I'd never find my car again. Ergo, I drive a Jeep Wrangler because it's iconic-looking, like Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie. And its distinct, unforgettable look means that it's a car (or a truck?) that I can actually identify in the parking lot. Plus it's the closest thing to my Rock Star dream car—a vintage Land Rover Defender 110 with the Voyager Rack and Ladder—which I can't afford on my Mere Fan's Budget.
And just to be sure that I never lose it in a parking lot, I never clean it. So I can recognize it by the empty Starbucks cups sitting in the cupholders. AND I had a custom roof rack installed which looks way better than fuzzy dice. When I walk out of Target, I simply look for the car (truck?) that looks like it's ready to go on safari.
Haven't lost my Jeep yet!
Pictured above is my current jeep (my third since 1987). It's my Mere Fan's Budget version of the 1992 Camel Trophy Land Rover 4X4 with a Brownchurch roof rack and snorkel pictured below that was auctioned off by Bonhams.
I'm asking Santa for a snorkel this year.
PS: I can also identify Mini Coopers.
I just thought you should know.
* Car with Dice photo by Denise McQuillen, courtesy of macdeedle on Pixabay.