Oh Mr Postman, look at me
The postman has never looked at me enviously. There was no intrigued and covetous glance when I received an anonymous-looking, almost completely weightless, box the size of a small person, that actually contained a rather boring and small, but extremely well-packaged car part.
Nor did he look jealous the time he handed me a heavily branded parcel from Nandos – it was a case of their wild herb sauce if you’re interested. He doesn’t even show any begrudging signs as he drops a bundle of highly desirable van magazines through the letterbox each month.
He’s not at all curious or bothered about any of it. He must have seen it all, and I can only presume it bores him. But last week I finally caught his attention.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t crave the attention of my postman; he’s a nice enough chap, cheery in the worst of our British weather and as a perennial wearer of shorts he’s a man to be admired and respected. He is not, however, the sort of man to strike up a conversation beyond the “hello”, “good morning” and “have a nice day” that are the by-words of his daily round. That is, it would seem, unless you have the new version of his van, the Fiat Doblo Cargo.
His “old” Doblo is a nearly brand-new 14-plate, with the looks of a bullfrog - ugly and boggle-eyed. By contrast, my new Fiat Doblo test van is a smiling, cheery frog, like in that animated video of the catchy Paul McCartney frog song, it is utterly inoffensive – a bit like the postman (if you discount his exposed legs, that is).
Ok, neither of our vans are actually frogs, but mine is distinctly better-looking than his. The front has been revised with neater headlights and a narrower grille, and while it still looks unique, like you would expect of a Doblo, it is neater, more contemporary-looking and infinitely less offensive.
The postman seems impressed: “That the new one?” he whispers across the early morning silence of the street.
“Yes,” I whisper back. “Want to look?”
The postman - lets call him Pat – bounds across the street, his surprisingly white calves glinting in the morning sun. He’s keen.
“It looks nice,” Pat says.
I can almost sense the moment coming. Any normal postman would be excited by the Doblo, the sexiness of the metallic grey paint in contrast to the drab Royal Mail red will set their pulses racing. I can tell Pat is no different and cannot resist.
The twin sliding doors, useful for a postie, and the new design 16-inch alloys have both caught his attention already. Has he noticed the tyres, I wonder? I do hope he has, they’re special energy saving tyres to help the Doblo achieve its claimed 51.4mpg fuel consumption. He won’t yet know that the mirrors are now electric and heated, or that Fiat has improved the torque response of the engines and lowered noise levels by 3dB(A) either, but I’ll dazzle him with that shortly, as right now he’s going straight for the driver’s door.
He opens it. I’m expecting him to drop his satchel and coo with joy, but in a heartbeat the envy, if ever there was any, has gone.
“Oh it’s the same,” he says, without showing the slightest flicker of emotion.
Rather than the new materials inside, he’s noticed the one problem I too have with the new Doblo: Fiat hasn’t quite been able to figure out the sums or the mechanics behind giving us awkward right-hand drivers the new interior layout.
The rest of the package is great – it’s probably why the Royal Mail bought plenty of the old ones. It’s comfortable, spacious, good to drive, economical and has plenty of load capacity – and now it’s not that bad looking either. But Pat is a hard man to impress.
He hands me my post: “Have a nice day”.
Originally published in the August 2015 issue of Truck & Driver magazine.