Anyone who has ever ridden shotgun with me understands exactly what I'm talking about, and yes, I intentionally combined the words together to form a singular vision of the greatest hazard facing road-going motorists today, as well as my worst nightmare as a motorcyclist. Worse than the old-people Buick. Worse than the self-absorbed Pruis. Worse than any Hells Angels or Mongols or two tons of broken beer bottles spread over Mulholland Drive during a torrential rain storm. CamryDriver will kill you if you're not careful. CamryDriver does not distinguish between a three ton SUV and a Smart Car. And, if I were President of the United States, my first act as YOUR leader would be to perma-ban Camrys for the sake of national security.
As individual entities, both the Toyota Camry and its occupant are, for the most part, quite decent. The Toyota Camry has been, and probably always will be, a solid automobile. People who drive Toyota Camrys probably have been, are, and always will be, solid citizens. Yet, when combined... well, consider it one of those bombs that detonate when separated chemicals are released and combined. By themselves, they are inert. Together... deadly.
Why? How could two docile elements, alone uneventful and calm, merge to form a single weapon of rolling destruction? Consider the stand-alone ingredients. Initially, they seem exactly what they are. Nothing particularly unique stands out. Dig deeper, however, and the truths begin to reveal themselves.
Let's begin with the Toyota Camry. Safe, ultra-reliable, with the kind of leading-edge styling only a blind man can love. A roomy interior that's nearly as bland as the exterior, a relatively compact price tag based upon what the vehicle offers, and a legendary reputation for being the last car you'll ever own. Sounds like a "can't miss" choice, doesn't it? Well, that's due largely to the fact that it IS a can't miss choice -- a very "safe" choice, indeed. You are not going to go wrong with a Camry.
Now, on to the Driver. An always-working professional, usually with a non-intrusive taste for style. Somebody who can blend in and disappear in a crowd. Somebody who is always multi-tasking: maybe a secretary, or a salesman, or a mom. Somebody who takes several minutes to order a cup of coffee, or the person who's been standing in the bank line ahead of you for several hours, but still isn't ready when the teller calls for them. An elderly person, who's daughter and/or son purchased the Camry for their dad or mom (or both) based on it's reputation alone.
Now, combine the two.
When I look for a car, I shop and compare. I look for styling, standard features, reliability, performance, and price. I chose my current Volkswagen due largely to the fact that it's an Audi parts bin car, which is a good thing since many of the features on my VW were once (or still are) features found on $40,000 Audis. I test drive. I ask questions. I learn. But the Camry is a different beast. Aside from the before-mentioned reliability, there's NOTHING particularly special or daring about it. It's quite possibly the safest choice a car buyer can make, and the perfect choice for the person/people described above. I would be very curious to ask a Toyota salesman how many new Camry owners simply walk in and purchase the vehicle sans any sort of investigative process described above. I would NOT be shocked to hear, "Quite a few".
The kind of person who buys a Camry, more often than not, is incapable of making a decision based on careful thought and comparison shopping. Either they have better things to do with their lives (or has no time) and simply want a car that works, or will suffer an always-fatal skull implosion as the vacuum of low pressure inside the brain cavity crushes the skull inward. The former, that being simply not caring about what they buy as long as it's reliable, is (in my opinion) the minority, relegated to some who can actually drive and the elderly described above, who would be dangerous in a Fiat, let alone a Camry. It's the majority, the "skull crushers", that terrify me the most.
These people CAN'T make decisions in life, and it shows in their driving ability. Their mind is either stuck in super-slo frame-by-frame reply mode, or have SO much on their mental plate that they simply miss things... like stop signs. This is exactly why they purchase the Camry is the first place.
"Buying a car is so hard. My brain hurts. I'll just buy the Camry", or...
The number one reason they purchased the Camry is, they didn't have to make a decision!!!
Ahhh... decision-making. A simple concept, yet so very vital in the success of steering a 3200 pound weapon-of-mass-destruction AWAY from the rest of us, rather than INTO us. Why Toyota installs side-view mirrors on Camrys boggles my mind, since no CamryDriver I've ever witnesses actually uses them. Power steering? Perfect for last-second lane changes, left-hand turns right in front of you, and running stop signs. Power brakes? Supreme for braking to a dead stop in the middle of the boulevard for absolutely no reason. Economy? How's 25 BPG (brain-farts per gallon), perfect for barreling out of supermarket parking lots into oncoming traffic without sacrificing brain cells. When scanning the road ahead of me, especially on my Suzuki, my primary goal is to spot the Camrys and Lexi (plural for Lexus, basically a luxury Camry, but that's for another blog) and steer clear of them.
Ask a new Camry owner why they purchased the Camry, rather than a Mazda 6 or Nissan Altima, or the American offerings of the Ford Fusion or Chevy Malibu. Dimes to dollars, the answer shall more often than not be "Uhhh. I dunno. It's a nice car I guess. And it doesn't break down".
Lovely. And what does a double yellow line mean?
"Ummm. It's so we can see it better, 'cause a single line is hard to see?"
Our only saving grace it that these people have conveniently clumped themselves together into an easy-to-spot group, so avoiding them merely requires a careful observation of the road.
And a prayer.,