The Big Kitty had been at his company long enough to have been assigned his own service van, and as is often the case, he had the worst one. The longer he was there, the newer the vans he got until that day when he got a brand new one. In the old days, the company paid for vanity plates, so he had VEC ### (whatever number van he was driving).
And so it began - it was a kind of game to see if I saw him around town in the van. At first it was easy - I'd check the tags...VEC.... Then I started looking at the back panel for blue Broadway type. Once I pulled into the lot at the Harris Teeter after school to pick up something to make for supper. I saw my van in the lot. They'd done work there, but I really wasn't prepared to walk into the deli department and see some familiar legs on a ladder, with the torso and head up in a ceiling. The guy behind the counter nearly collapsed when I reached up and pinched that cute behind and then darted into an aisle!
These days, as I meander around town on errands, it's during the weekday and I see white vans all the time. There used to be over of hundred of "our" vans around, but these days I don't see them as much. What I do see are lots and lots of service vans, some with company logos and some without. It raised a question for me. Why white?
The only thing my dad and I were ever in complete agreement about had to do with white for vehicles. Neither of us would ever drive a white car. When I told him I thought they looked like a rolling refrigerator, he snorted and agreed. "So, Dad, what color do you like?"
"Well," he began, "I did like that blue for the Imperial, but I've kind of always liked red cars. That Pontiac I got you. That was a good red."
I told him about my red wool Susan Bristol skirt with the pleats at the bottom like Mrs. Hamilton's mohair tweed ones...it was '69 Pontiac red. He liked that. We also agreed that certain cars probably needed to be black. "Ya wouldn't wanna be mobbed up and drivin' around in a red Lincoln," he commented.
That's when I told him about my plans for lottery winnings. "I want a maroon Lincoln, and I'm going to change my tags to say Mary Tod." My dad got it immediately and laughed like crazy. "Why maroon?" he wanted to know. "The White House china she picked had a maroon border." My dad nodded. He loved to buy china.
But white vans...ubiquitous white vans... Why white? Why not silver? Why not grey? Why not blue? Why in the world show-ever-speck-of-dirt white?
When our beloved Roger Varney died, everyone in the company wanted to be there for his funeral. The only edict that went out was: do not show up if your vehicle is dirty. Big Kitty got special dispensation for me to ride his van. He dashed home, changed into his suit and the two of us barreled to the funeral home. While we waited to get lined up, white service trucks and vans that were still dripping from trips to the car wash continued to arrive. The procession, viewed from a rise on Route 419 was awesome. At the top, the hearse, following that was a flotilla of Harleys, following that were some family vehicles, and behind those were a LOT of white vans and trucks. Probably the only one missing was the bucket truck.
White vans. I see them everywhere. I see elbows hanging out of their windows, I see cigarette butts being flicked from them and into the street, some are clean, some are dirty, some are dented, some are downright ratty and some are brand spanking new. Some are plain, some have logos and some have a old logo that's been painted over. Some have ladders on top and some have a large PVC tube that holds pipe or conduit up there.
Big Kitty used to have a large sheet metal box on his that held conduit.
Once I followed a white van on Main Street. It was low to the ground and nearly bottomed out here and there. My practiced eye noted that the van was clearly overloaded and needed helper springs. When the van turned left onto Mount Vernon, I knew it was about to be parked in front of my house. New van for BK.
"You need helper springs on this rig," I told him. "You were riding way low and nearly bottomed out a few times. Either helpers or you gotta get rid of some of this inventory." My spouse knows I know what I'm talking about when it comes to leaf springs. He took that info to work the next day where their shop guy scoffed, "Your WIFE?! What does your wife know about springs." BK patiently explained about my dad's business. "Oh."
He got helper springs, but he also kind of cleaned out the van.
I am no closer to understanding the attraction of white service vehicles, aside from the fact that they are easy to resell because the color is a non-issue. But I still say, refrigerators on wheels.