Pop-chan Monogatari

After a hectic drive up the highway, I arrive at Allen Premium Outlets. I find the subject of our story today, but his owner is nowhere to be seen. I text the car’s owner, Brian. He tells me he’s at the Coach store nearby. I can’t say I’m surprised. He’s always trying to be as well-dressed as possible. His car, a 2015 Fiat 500 Pop, is also a strong reflection of Brian’s sense of style too. It’s simple and fashionable all at once, as is par for the course with most small Italian cars. After I’ve spent some time admiring the car, which Brian refers to as Pop-chan, he finally shows up and hands me a card from Coach. Apparently, there was a sale. We head over to the nearby boba tea shop to chat.


Brian’s love for the car is very apparent in many of the stories he tells right off the bat. Not even a year after buying the car, it was damaged in a hailstorm. Brian was so upset that he screamed upon seeing the damage. The little Fiat was so perfectly clean that he couldn’t bear to see it dented. An arguably worse incident occurred not even a year after the hailstorm in which Brian was sideswiped by a truck. Not only was there a large scuff mark across the door where the truck hit, but it was also stuck shut. Fortunately, the damage was covered by insurance and repaired in both cases.


By now, it should be clear that Brian is very protective of the car. He is also a very generous, as was demonstrated by one time when he tipped a particularly tall valet driver very generously for somehow fitting inside and (gently) parking his tiny Fiat. The car is a perfect fit for Brian, but it’s certainly an unusual car to own in the U.S., let alone Texas, where everything is spread out and driving on the highway is often a must. A car like Pop-chan would be right at home in his native Europe, but here in the United States, smaller cars tend to have a bit of a poor reputation, especially in areas where people tend to own more SUV’s and trucks. However, looking at Brian’s car history makes it very clear why he chose the 500.


Brian’s first car was a 2001 Toyota Avalon, a car that’s the next step up from Toyota’s ubiquitous Camry. It was a hand-me-down from his brother, and, being the car he learned to drive on, he has generally positive memories of it. Unfortunately, his brother took the Avalon with him when he went to college. The next car Brian drove was definitely the biggest reason why he wanted a small car. After his brother left for college with the Toyota, Brian received a 2002 Ford F-150 from his parents. He hated it. It was big and slow, got bad gas mileage, and was hard to park.


On top of that, he was also bombarded with requests from friends for help on moving day to which he usually agreed. By the way, Brian would like everybody to know that he is small and thin and definitely not built for lifting furniture into a pickup truck. He made this very clear while I was talking to him at the boba shop. Anyway, Brian drove this truck for the rest of high school and the beginning of his college years. His next car was a 2012 Hyundai Tucson, which he drove for the rest of his time in college and even a bit after graduating. He genuinely enjoyed it, claiming that its perfect size and infotainment system made it perfect for road trips. Despite driving this wonderful SUV, Brian still hadn’t forgotten the F-150.


Brian’s next car after the Hyundai was Pop-chan, his little Fiat. Purchasing the Italian sub-compact was a direct reaction to having lived with the hated F-150 for so long. It’s easily parkable, gets good gas mileage, and(in Brian’s opinion) is painted with a lovely shade of blue. On top of that, it has a manual transmission so that Brian can be more engaged in driving. There’s a lot to love about Pop-chan for Brian, but one of the most important things for him is that the car truly felt like one of his first steps into adulthood after he purchased it. It is, in fact, the first car that he has ever chosen and bought himself without his parents’ help.


Nobody forgets their first car, but in this economy, with a job market that’s been hell for people Brian’s age, people might just start looking at the first car they were able to buy independently a bit more fondly than their true first car. Brian certainly has. After all, his first car was a hand-me-down. Hell, Brian loves his little Fiat so much that he even has plans to modify Pop-chan after completely paying him off. He wants to install a scissor door kit for extra style. This is real. One can get scissor doors for a Fiat 500. I’ve seen pictures. It’s interesting to say the least. Regardless of what he ends up doing with Pop-chan, though, all I have to say is, “Godspeed, Brian. Godspeed.”