For the first time in my life I own a car, and one thing that’s surprised me about car ownership is that people can recognize it. Several coworkers have made comments that show they know when I’m at work because they spotted my car when they came in (this in a parking lot that can probably hold 50 or 60 cars), and have even told me they recognized it when I was driving around or when it was in a parking lot at a store.
There is nothing distinctive about my car. It’s a 1997 gold 4-door Toyota, neither excessively clean or dirty, with no bumper stickers or other overt distinguishing marks. I’ve been shocked and a little creeped out by the fact that people can spot it so easily. What I’m learning, though, is that this is just a thing people do, and expect me to be able to do as well. Last week I was standing on a sidewalk and saw someone in a car waving at me, but because of the glare on the windshield I couldn’t make out who it was. When the car pulled up and a work acquaintance stepped out I mentioned that I hadn’t been able to see who he was. “How could you not know who it was?” he said, “You’ve seen my car before!” He genuinely sounded surprised and a little irritated that I couldn’t recognize him by his car.
What the hell? I would no more be able to recognize his car than I would be able to tell him what he’d worn to work the day before. I have no interest in cars and wouldn’t be able to recognize anyone’s car unless it was something hugely flashy like a red 1950s convertible or the Scooby Doo Mystery Van. And maybe not even then.
Is this a fluke I’m experiencing, or is this an actual thing? When you go to work in the morning can you scan the parking lot and tell who’s already there by which cars are in the parking lot? Would you notice if someone in your neighborhood had a new car in their driveway?