Jun 19 2009

Confessions of a green-car driver

Category: humor,societyharmonicminer @ 9:13 am

I admit it.  I own a Prius.  It has 130,000 miles, and is humming along nicely.  The three hamsters, the flashlight battery, and the lawnmower engine that make it go are still doing their jobs.

Even though I am ideologically opposed to the entire concept of car pool lanes, I drive in them.  I got my sticker for $8, back when they were still available.  The car does produce remarkably low emissions.  I have heard tales of depressed liberals in Philadelphia trying to commit suicide by running the car in a closed garage, and waking up in the morning with a bad headache….  which was probably no worse than their typical hangover from a night of carousing with other lefty cheese-steak eaters.

One of my favorite things is that, in parking lots at slow speed, the gas engine shuts off, and it’s quieter than a golf cart as I sneak up on hapless searchers for lost cars.  You pull up to about two feet behind someone who doesn’t see you, or hear you, and honk the horn.  It’s great.  Keep your windows rolled up and the doors locked, though.

It hurts my feelings, a little, when Rush bashes my car.  Has he ever been in one?  They’re not so bad, and all Prius drivers are not preening, self-righteous prigs….  just most of them.

You can talk to a Prius, and it will respond, after a fashion.  It knows a few hundred voice commands… more than I can remember.  Once, when I had just pushed the “talk” button to ask the car to find the closest Mexican restaurant for me, my wife coughed.  The car immediately said, “Now displaying hospital icons on the navigation system.”  A car with a sense of humor.  What’s next?  A car that does psychotherapy?

It bugs me when people assume I’m a lefty because I drive a Prius.  I see all the bumper stickers on Prii (the proper plural form of Prius, according to one user group –  I actually saw another Prius driver sniff disdainfully when I referred to “Priuses”).

“ECOMOM”
“I love solar power and I vote.”
“Obama-Biden 2008″
“No War For Oil”    (Did we bring any of the oil home?)
“Keep Abortion Safe and Legal”  (safe for WHO?)
“Visualize world peace”  (I do, often…  it’s just that there are some people missing from the visualization — which may be why it’s so peaceful)

I have thought about a few more bumper stickers that I think I might like more:

“No War for Electrons!”
“Save the gay baby internal combustion engines!”
“Don’t blame me, I voted for McCain”
“My other car is a Volvo…  or used to be”
“Get a Prius, gas hog!”
“Save the BORG!”

For awhile, I displayed a US flag in the rear window.  I noticed other Prius drivers giving me disapproving glances, and occasional rude gestures, en passant.  Patriotism is just so….  twentieth century.

Historically, I seem to have a problem choosing politically appropriate cars.  For years, I had two Volvos….  the preferred transportation of the New England Yuppie Liberal.  And now I have this poster-car for global warming amelioration.  I think I want my next vehicle to be the preferred mode of transportation for all eco-activists who really care about the environment — a Gulfstream V, luxury edition, complete with private pilot.

I suspect the Prius produces all kinds of mysterious radiation.  I wonder if I could cause fruit flies to mutate just by driving around with them for awhile in a jar.   Have you ever driven a car in which the radio static goes up when you step on the brakes?  When I pull up next to people at stop lights, I see them lunge for their radios, not knowing I’m the cause of the static.  I once set my key chain down on top of the electric motor while checking the oil.  The USB flashdrive on the key chain was erased, more or less.

And here I used to hate truckers with CB radios messing up my radio reception.

Maybe you become that which you hate.

I observe that people in older pickups and SUVs sneer at me when I drive into the gas station.  It’s as if they think I represent all the things they disdain in life, from small cars to liberals.  I pump the gas as fast as possible, and slink back into my car without meeting their eyes, fearing their judgment.

I take secret comfort in the fact that the Prius is less eco-friendly, overall, than the Hummer.  A man should leave his mark on the world.

Tomorrow, as I blow by you in the car pool lane at 84 MPH, uphill (those hamsters are STRONG), remember, I’m doing my bit for Al Gore, Savior of Earth, even if he is an ignorant jerk, while your emissions are bringing us a little closer to species extinction (sorry, I was just auditioning for the Huffington Post).  I meant specious extinction.

Proves I’m open minded.