May 06 2005
So gas prices are approaching the cost of college tuition. It’s now cheaper to fly first class to France than it is to drive that SUV down to the convenience mart and pick up a quart of milk. And soon, mark my word, you’ll be caught in a dark alley and hear from the shadows a low voice mutter, “OK, buddy, give me all your gas.”
That’s the fuel-dependant world we live in.
But I feel pretty unique because I don’t live more than a half mile from work. In other words, I haven’t needed to take out a loan yet to cover my gas card bill.
Sometimes my wife and I drive to work, and other times we walk. To mix it up, sometimes I drive, forget the car is there, and then walk home. This makes it interesting when my wife looks out the window and screams, “Where’s the car?”
It prompts me to scream, “Oh no, those blammin’ jimmy-ammies stole it again!”
A moment or two later sanity taps me on the shoulder and I turn to my wife to admit that this isn’t nearly as bad as the time I put my underwear on over my pants.
But think of all that gas I’m saving.
We’re extremely lucky. We’re not adding rubbing alcohol to the tank to make it last longer, or having to lose weight to make road trips more economical.
People tell me how they’re spending ungodly sums of money each week, and I just nod my head in agreement and say, “Man, no kidding. When I filled up in December, I couldn’t believe what a quarter of a tank cost.”
I was thinking about all of this the other day when an issue of U.S. News and World Report arrived with a cover story titled, “There’s a hybrid in your future.”
My first reaction was, “Jeez, I hope they have a cure for that.”
But then I realized it was just talking about these fuel efficient cars of tomorrow, partly run on regular combustion engines and partly run on electrical. I’m just repeating what I’m reading — for all I know you stick two feet out the holes in the floor and power it Flintstone-style.
Personally, I think the idea of the hybrid is great, and I certainly support anything that makes better use of our natural resources … and keeps me from having to wear a gas mask or an aluminum foil suit to protect me from the sun.
Maybe the hybrid is the answer to this fuel crisis. But I tell you I’m a little concerned, and think the biggest hurdle for the hybrid industry is simply selling anything called a “hybrid.” It’s like buying a car that’s called “the mutant.” Is it a monster or a fuel-efficient car? “See Godzilla vs. the Hybrid. One will devour Tokyo on 65 miles to the gallon and the other will run off with a she-lizard called Gladys the Big Tail.”
Not “hybrid.” How about “Hippies Love It” or “Can Still Afford Groceries.” Something catchy, maybe the “Green Gas Mobile.”
At least hybrids are becoming more appealing in their looks. The early ones seemed to be styled after chewed gum or a bunion. Nobody wants to buy a car that looks like a bunion. Who wants that?
Fuel efficiency be damned, Americans want style. They want to look good. And if it were me designing these cars, I would address America’s undying love for really large automobiles. Not that these hybrids have to be large — just sell add-on kits. Sure. It wouldn’t need to be anything more than cardboard cutouts of SUVs or dump trucks that you tape to the frame. Look gets old, get yourself a new one shaped like an MX missile. Why doesn’t anyone consult me on these things?
We’ve got a problem in this country and it’s time we started solving it. I don’t have all the answers, but I’ve got a few. So I’m willing to help, if I could just find my car.