When's the last time you bumped?

Dec 16, 2006

Inching along in traffic the other day — the roads around Chapel Hill have been quite congested of late — I found myself staring at the rear of the car in front of me and remembering a a recent Car Talk explanation that there’s a metal bumper behind the plastic panel. I’ve also been noticing that many cars have smashed plastic bumpers, cosmetic blemishes that just look sorrier and uglier than the more permanent dents put into chrome bumpers on older cars.

Recently, when I stopped my Honda CRV hard at the busy intersection near our home, the car behind tapped into me, smashing its headlight into my bumper but leaving just a small scrape in the molded plastic that is more solid that our newer Sienna. (Last summer, Malia was pulling a wagon around the driveway, turned too acutely around the van, and left a red scrape on the bumper.)

These days, when I parallel park, I’m cautious not to bump the car in front of me for fear of leaving visible damage. A decade ago, that wasn’t the case. It was safer, so to speak, to bump back and forth as you squeezed your car into a space.

Perhaps I’m getting restless after spending so many hours and days and months in front of a computer and in cyberspace. With a slower few weeks ahead, I will be looking for ways to get back in touch with the physical world around me. Rest assured, I’m not about to go careering my car down the highway today.

Anton Zuiker

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