Once upon a time, not long ago, the people of Rome woke up to find that some kind Being had left an item called a car on their doorsteps. Despite never having seen one before, had a driving lesson or been informed of the purpose of roundabouts, traffic lights or STOP signs, the people happily leapt into their cars, turned the ignition on, lit up a cigarette and off they went.
The people could see many switches and dials in the car but it seemed easier to ignore them. Occasionally they vaguely wondered if some sort of indicator would have been useful to inform the car behind which lane they planned to drive in (left, right or both lanes at once). But, fortunately, each driver had located the horn and this served well as a device for warnings, greetings and ‘ciao bella’ signals.
The car was steered by moving the wheel mounted in front of the seats. The people thought this was a bad design because it was often difficult to steer with one arm hanging out of the window, one hand holding a mobile phone to their ear and one hand holding a cigarette. [Ed: hang on, that’s three hands. How do they do that??] But the people persevered until they had mastered this important skill. And if they didn’t, well there was always the horn.
The car seemed to go best when it was driven with the accelerator pushed down all the way. Occasionally a driver would lift his foot from the accelerator and other drivers would press their horn, shout and make gestures at him, before overtaking, preferably on a blind corner or a roundabout.
Although each car had five seats, it was just as easy to drive with six or seven people squashed in. Extra children could happily sit on laps or stand on the front seat. Each seat had a belt attached to it but this appeared to have no known purpose.
If the people had to get out of the car, they always ensured their car was as near as possible to, or actually on, the pavement immediately in front of their destination. If other cars were already taking up these spaces, that was no problem; they simply left the car in the middle of the road whilst they picked up their newspaper or enjoyed their morning cappuccino.
Instead of cars, some younger people had been given motorini. These two-wheeled vehicles allowed them even more freedom. They could ride in between all the cars, overtaking on both sides and riding on the pavement when desired. A piece of headwear called a helmet was apparently necessary but the people didn’t want to spoil their perfectly coiffured hairstyles so they gently placed it on their heads without pulling it down properly or doing up the strap. The main disadvantage of the motorini over the car became apparent in the rain, however, the people overcame this difficulty by riding with an umbrella in one hand.
Sometimes visitors came to the city who didn’t have a car. The people laughed at the visitors because they still had to walk to their destinations. They were forced to attempt to cross the road at a pedestrian crossing but the people didn’t want to stop their cars for the visitors. If they stepped onto the pedestrian crossing, the people would drive their cars at around them whilst making strange hand gestures.
The people liked their cars very much and stayed in them as much as possible. They liked being able to wear leather jackets, without ever breaking a sweat, even when the weather was warm. They liked feeling superior to the pedestrians and using their cars as mobile homes, offices and heat seeking missiles. Soon they had almost forgotten how to walk. Now the people live in fear that one day the Being will return for their cars…