Beemer Bummer

by J.A. Hitchcock

I own a BMW. Don't groan. Don't be jealous. Don't get mad. It's a 1985 528e sedan, which is their four-door model. It's white. It's big. It's very comfortable. And it has over 140,000 miles on it. I bought it used when I lived in California back in 1990. I take good care of it. I'm proud of it and it does look new. But it's not, and that's what is so strange.

Why do a lot of people have this stigma about BMWs? In California, it was an accepted vehicle, but while I lived in Maryland, I got everything from sneers to the middle finger to people trying to race me down the highway. My Beemer is not a race car. It's a sedan, folks.

I drove my Beemer to Baltimore once. Once. I had to go to Johns Hopkins Medical Center for an appointment. It was my first time driving to Baltimore and we hadn't been in Maryland very long, so I didn't think twice about driving my Beemer there. I faithfully followed the directions I'd been given. I drove by the Inner Harbor, which is very lovely and historic. But as I got closer to Johns Hopkins, the neighborhoods deteriorated rapidly. I frowned, but plugged along.

I finally found signs leading to the parking garage and as I turned onto that street, a small group of middle school-aged girls were just crossing the street. I politely braked and waited for them to cross in front of me. Well, these girls saw the BMW and immediately slowed down to a turtle crawl. As they finally, slowly, passed the front of my car, they were saying all sorts of lovely things about Beemers and me, none of which I care to repeat here. I was very upset and yes, a little afraid. I parked and when I got inside, I told the woman I had the appointment with that she should let people know about the neighborhood.

If I had to go to Baltimore or even D.C. after that, I'd take my husband's truck, an Isuzu Trooper, which had those huge 4WD tires on them. Nobody messed with me when I drove the truck. In fact, people tended to get out of my way. But, get in my trusty old Beemer and I'm asking for trouble.

My favorite is when I put my blinker on when I want to change lanes or pass someone on the highway. One of two things inevitably happens:
1. The person I am trying to pass miraculously speeds up. I turn my blinker off. They slow down again. I try to pass them again. They speed up. I get angry. I sometimes get so mad, I step on the gas and do pass them. And you know what? They slow right back down to their plodding speed. It's like they can't bear the thought of a Beemer passing them.
2. The person refuses to let me in the lane. Period. I've missed exits because of these idiots.
3. They get on my tail and follow me. Until I panic. Even after I've changed lanes several times, or direction. That's when I pull my trust cell phone up to my ear and call my mom or husband. Every time I've done this, the idiot behind me backs off. Way off.

What is the deal? Can't someone tell the difference between a new and old BMW? Hello? Why are some people so angry, jealous or whatever? I paid less than $10,000 for my Beemer in 1990, when it was five years old. That's a pretty darned good deal, and like I said, I take care of my car, so I plan on having it for a long time to come.

If someone ticks me off when I'm in the Beemer now, I do something they just don't understand: I give them a huge smile and wave enthusiastically. The confused look on their faces is worth it.

J.A. Hitchcock is a regular contributor to Compute Me. Visit her web site at or write her at

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