“I knew that would be a refugee’s car”.
I stirred from a half slumber. “Sorry?”
“The car behind, I knew it would be a refugee’s car”.
I looked back through the rear window; the car behind was occupied by an African family. The comment was probably a fair one. Africans were rare until recent years. In fact, any nationality apart from Irish was rare until recent years.
I slumped back into the seat. “What do you mean, a refugee’s car?”
“It’s a double zero Almera. It’s the sort of car you can pick up cheap”.
“I drive a double zero Almera and it’s that shade of blue. Actually, apart from the number plate, my car is identical to that one”.
There was silence.
I pondered my car.
It was cheap.
I bought it for €6,000 cash (equivalent at the time to £4,000). It was six years old, but had only 21,000 miles on the clock. I like it. I don’t worry about it being stolen or scraped. It plays Lyric FM and Radio 4 and gets me around. It passed the NCT last month by a wide margin
There was a moment of curiosity. Did people wonder why I drove around in what would pass as ‘a refugee’s car’? Would I be asked to park it at the back if I belonged to a golf club?
The curiosity passed in a moment – the car would be passed off as just another Protestant eccentricity.
Why did I have a double zero Almera, though?
Then I remembered. I was going on holiday next week, and had been last month, and had been in January. There was a choice between buying a car and giving all your expenses to a garage, or not buying a car and keeping your expenses for doing things (after the Revenue Commissioners had skimmed off their share).
“Alpbach” I said.
“A double zero Almera pays for skiing in Alpbach”.
Not only does it pay for going to Alpbach, it also reduces carbon emissions. The carbon produced in producing a new car exceeds the carbon emissions of an old car on the road. I would remember that next time someone said about it being an old car – it could be presented as an ethical choice.
I’ll leave out the bit about Alpbach.