Monday, September 20, 2004


not to be confused with priapus

Sharon and I bought a Toyota Prius* over the weekend, which only cements our Northern California-ness even more than we already exhibit. For those not in the know, the Prius is a hybrid, meaning its engine is half gas/half electric and it's best known for 1) having mileage upwards 60mpg and 2) being a zero emissions vehicle (technically, the Prius is a "partial zero emissions" car but how do you have a partial of zero? Is this the new, new math?).

Here's a thing about Prius drivers and we learned this by watching S's sister, Diane, who's had one since early Spring: they become mileage obsessed. The car has a display that charts your exact efficiency and keeps a running total of how good your mpg ratio is. The car is most efficient when you "coast" - i.e. let the momentum of the car carry you forward rather than using the gas pedal. If you want to maximize your mileage, you would then coast as much as possible and only give it some gas when you need to maintain a certain speed. It becomes ritualistic after a while: accelerate, coast, slow, accelerate, coast, slow, repeat. Me? I'm just glad to be getting over 25 mpg so even if I'm gunning it in the Prius, I can still easily eek out 40mpg.

BUT, today, when S took the car to work, someone pulled up next to her and basically pulled a, "so hey, what you getting on that car?" and S read off "40 mpg". The snide reply: "you're driving too fast. When I drove the old one, I got 66!"

WTF? It's one thing to inquire out of curiosity. It's another thing to start heckling someone over the fact that they don't get the same mileage you do. Just goes to show: just because you're environmentally friendly doesn't mean you can't also be a total asshole.

This said, I really like the Prius for this reason: it's got a zillion compartments like two glove compartments, two folding out cup holders, an arm rest storage space with coin tray inside, a sunglasses holder up by the door light, and two separate storage spaces in the trunk with the spare tire neatly tucked in below that. This all reminds me of the cool Japanese pencil boxes my peers had growing up: the kind with secret compartments and fourteen buttons and a built-in sharpener. My parents would never get me one so I could only stare in envy at my classmates who had these fancy, tricked out boxes for all their pens and pencils. 25 odd years later and I live out my childhood fantasy by buying, you know, a car. Oh, the consumer guilt, the horror, the horror...

*We got introduced to the car via Diane who has a fully loaded 2004 Prius in Milleneum Silver that she bought at the beginning of the year. Having checked it out ourselves, we were like, "Mmmmmm...must have." Mind you: my Honda Accord has nearly 200K miles on it and needs new brakes, tires, coolant hoses, rotor cap, air conditioning system, and timing belt, just to name a few problems off the bat. I needed a new car anyways and given upcoming happenings, S and I could use something more practical than what I originally wanted: an early '90s Toyota Celica convertible (they had more cargo room in the early '90s - I do my homework). Anyways, as it turned out, we waited for about a month and ended up getting a fully loaded 2004 Prius in Milleneum Silver. We're not trying to copy Diane but hell, it was the first one that came available and we were tired of waiting.