At a few minutes past 18:00 on a Tuesday I was driving home and saw a shiny Toyota GR Yaris ahead of me.
I live in a gated estate, and the GR Yaris was entering through the “residents” lane.
It looked exactly like the press photos and this was the first one I had seen on the road. I decided to follow it.
I did not know what I was going to do, but I knew the first step was to drive behind the car until it stopped.
The first streaks of doubt painted the inside of my stomach when the GR Yaris turned left after entering the gate – while my humble home was down the road on the right.
I turned left, and was now officially stalking a stranger.
The driver in front of me kept going – just-got-a-new-car-slowly over the multiple speed bumps on our route.
They turned left again, and then again – and then left once more into a street with a cul-de-sac sign at its entrance.
Damn, why a cul-de-sac? This was it – if I followed here there would be no turning back.
Not only was I worried about the potentially-awkward conversation that was fast approaching, I was equally concerned that the driver would think I was in the process of committing a crime.
The estate was a safe one, and there were no hijackings that I knew of, but I was not keen on explaining to security that I was “just following this person home because I liked their car”.
The GR Yaris pulled into a driveway at the end of the road and I went up behind them, opened my window, and stuck my head out as a man and woman stepped out the car.
“Hi. I am sorry to bother you. I saw you have a new GR Yaris, and I don’t normally follow people around, but I had to say hello.”
The woman looked at me and smiled. “Oh, my husband will love to talk to you. He only got the car this week.”
I then spent the next 10 minutes talking to a middle-aged man about his GR Yaris.
He answered my non-stop questions, said I can sit inside the car and take a look, and detailed how he had ordered it six months ago.
There was a Land Cruiser parked in his garage. This was a Toyota family.
I said goodbye and thank you, and drove home with a large smile.
The stranger had gained nothing tangible from our conversation and I had done something really silly – follow a person home in a country where crimes like hijackings and armed robbery are a real and constant threat.
But we both looked and sounded pleased with our short interaction.
I don’t know of any other inanimate object which produces this result – and it’s one reason why cars are great.