Unhealthy Prius Obsessions and the American Male

This Prius business — it’s getting worse than I thought.  (See http://geezersisters.wordpress.com/2007/10/23/19/ for troubled background to this problem.)

A few weeks ago, I naively told my husband about some Prius nut I’d read about in the newspaper.  How he glided as much as possible and, even worse, didn’t use the heater if the outside temperature were above 20 degrees Fahrenheit — all to save gas and boast about his mpg ratings.

What was wrong with me?  I just passed the story on to my husband, the same way I would any topic about some imbecile doing stupid things.  I never thought he would think it was a good idea or anything.

But there we were, driving back from a restaurant last night, and I noticed I was shivering with cold.  I asked him to please turn up the heat.  Turns out, it wasn’t on.  And it was freezing outside — at least by thinblooded Texas standards.  Forty degrees, I feel sure.

“Ever since you told me about that guy not using his heat,” my husband said, a little sheepishly, but not sheepishly enough, “I’ve been doing the same thing.”

But he turned the heat on, accommodatingly enough.  That’s because, as usual, he was peering into the navigational screen and didn’t have time to argue.  Ever since he discovered GPS, we never drive anywhere on a normal route.  We’re always spinning around back routes, alleys, side streets and lengthy detours that my husband and his GPS buddy come up with. 

“Don’t you think this is more interesting?” he demands, keeping his nose about two inches from the GPS screen.  (Which is dangerous, if you want to know what I think.  Also, I have a recent pet theory that this constant reliance on technology is making us all stupider.  When’s the last time you had to memorize a phone number?)

But, anyway.  GPS.  MPG obsession.  All of it is related and unhealthy, in my opinion.  My husband turned onto a street with an open gate.

“This street is closed,” I told him helpfully.  (People, especially those you’re married to, always appreciate helpful suggestions, I’ve found.)  “It’s a gated community.”

“Not, it’s not,” he said, pointing at the GPS diagram.  “It’s open.  It’s a city street.  Just look at the map.”

Two blocks later, when we reached a barricaded gate, he put the car in reverse and backed it up.

“Told you so,” I said.

“The city should have put up a sign saying no outlet,” he said.  But he sounded pretty cheerful.  I think going in reverse must have a beneficial effect on his mpg statistics.  Next time, I’ll remember to ask.

(Copyright 2008 by Ruth Pennebaker)

4 comments… add one
  • Steve Collins Link

    The acronym that the Prius owner forums use for the internal combustion engine is, appropriately, ICE.

    For autos, like my entire fleet, for which the ICE is the sole means of power, the heater actually puts to use waste heat and, with the exception of the first few minutes before the ICE reaches normal operating temperature, no improvement in effeciency occurs by turning off the heat. Having said that I can feel not only warm, but less guilty.

  • You have some valuable content, and makes for pretty good reading. nice job on your blog.


  • Ok so being in one of those wierd in-betwen generations. My (not yet realized) kids will probably think I am un-american for NOT driving a hybrid. Hybrids are a weird phenomenom I didn’t realize crashing one would cause so many problems…. I mean if you spend 46 waking hours on the phone trying to get through to the right person at Allstate. You are not only saving gas and oxgygen you are simultaneously bringing the productivity rate down and furthering our descent into a pending full fleged recession… which could lead to another crash of the stock market.

    Ok well maybe not but It sounds a little inconveinent… Till they workthe kinks out it’s 3.00 a gallon for me.

    I enjoyed this read. I’ll be back for more.

  • Tamara Pesik Link

    My husband, an extremely logical software engineer, is in love with his GPS. He takes it everywhere. He buys it new mapping software. They even argue from time to time. Unfortunately, I fear he is secretly looking for an “upgrade” on the side.

    Two things that happen over and over, that I cannot explain:

    He uses it to get directions to the grocery store. He insists that using it to get to places we ALREADY KNOW HOW TO GET TO is important because he can add “waypoints” into the GPS’s database.

    He argues with the GPS and will spend significant amounts of time inputting constraints in order to get exactly the route he wants, rather than the one the GPS would ordinarily output. These are generally routes to known locations.

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