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Sowerby and I by Nigel Roth

Updated: Mar 4


About twenty years ago, I teamed up with a guy called Garry Sowerby, from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to drive around the South Western USA, in a brand new Chevy.


We had a theme for the drive, and after meeting at my house in Arizona, we set off in the state-of-the-art SUV to showcase our idea. I can’t say we were exactly successful in our scheme, because we became quite disenchanted with our purpose rather quickly.


It was, I admit, a little ‘out there’ in 2001 to travel in a vehicle that doubled as a remote office. But then again, Apple had just launched OS X, Wikipedia was already teaching the world about the world, and we’d landed a spacecraft on an asteroid, so our expectations may have been justified.


While we called our vehicle the ‘Office of the Future’, as we began to drive through vast regions of poor or zero wireless reception and had resorted to screaming into our Motorolas, had maybe a WinBook laptop between us, and no way to charge the thing anyway, and a whole slew of print-outs of directions and logistics that we juggled endlessly looking for the right piece of paper, we began to think we may have achieved more if we’d flown, with a gin and tonic in our hands.


As a result, we ended up just driving a lot, meeting some odd people along the way, eating porridge, visiting Vegas, which is always anthropologically-interesting but only for the first ten minutes, and chatting about his adventures on the road, which were startlingly more exciting than the present one we were having in the semi-arid desert.


You see, while I had been beavering away at school, stressing over how to find the right room for a class at university, wondering how to get a girlfriend with this out-of-date haircut, wondering how to divorce a wife with this out-of-date haircut, and whether my career choice was actually a choice rather than just a default position, Sowerby was busy doing very adventurous things.


He’d driven around the world in seventy-four days, one hour, and eleven minutes, on his Odyssey 77 expedition, competed in the Pan American Challenge, by motoring from the southern tip of the Americas to the north of Alaska, circumnavigated almost thirty thousand kilometers in the Frontera World Challenge, and achieved the fastest ever drive from the southern tip of Africa to the northern crest of Europe, in the Africa-Arctic Challenge.


So, of course, driving from Tucson to Salt Lake City in a new Chevy was a little bit of an anti-climax.


However, although I don’t want to suggest Sowerby and I were Trailblazers or anything, we were a kind of a Nova for a concept that is just now beginning to meet reality.


The need to work remotely has Silver-Spur’d one car manufacturer to Vanquish those cramped Espaces, and wifi Gremlins, and develop a Titan of an idea, that could solve this problem in Rapide time.


To become Commander of your world, and set your own Pacer, try Nissan’s new Office Pod Concept vehicle, with a fully-equipped office included, for working remotely.


And, it’s incredibly flexible in its form. If privacy is your Manta, you can hide away inside the Pod, with a view of the Skyline through the Opel window. Or, if you feel Discovery is your Spark, tap-the-app and slide your office out via the extender to take in the Sierra. And, you can keep the sun off your nose with the trunk-cum-parasol.


Sadly, Sowerby and I didn’t have any of those luxuries.


Our vehicle was equipped with a DVD player, which was somewhat of a revelation for the both of us, though we only had the one movie to watch, or hear, if you were driving. And there wasn’t much sun either. It reached something like minus eleven degrees in the mountains, and the only motel we could find had broken heaters. Or at least mine did.


In the Office Pod, there’s a Herman Miller-designed desk chair, and a large surface to spread out your laptop and accoutrements. You get all the connections and outlets you’d ever need, and a UV antibacterial lamp in the glovebox to disinfect anything you want disinfecting.


So, whether you want to Cruze the byways and be able to stop and take conference calls in peace and connectivity, or Escape your Suburban boredom without being out-of-reach; if you’re gambling in Monte Carlo and want to quietly slip away to research other ways to beat the dealer, or simply Evoque that traveling memory with a contemporary twist, it might be worth giving the Office Pod a Punto.


As the pandemic takes its Corsa, and we’re forced to rethink how we engage in our working day, Nissan have tried to Panda to your needs and offer an interesting option. You’d certainly achieve more than Sowerby and I did, when we returned to Tucson after a week or so on the road, fairly desperate to rejoin the world of connectivity.


But then again, at least we imagined it. And now that idea has been realized for today’s generation, and could be a real Challenger for the Covid moment.


You’ll just need a bit of Qashqai to buy one.



photo by Peng LIU


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