Sometimes when I show up at work, I have no memory of how I got there. It’s a 20 mile drive and sometimes I am surprised, as I grab my briefcase from the trunk of the car, that I have been on the road for over half an hour. When this happens it is actually quite scary.
I used to be a speeder trying to fly under the radar (quite literally) of cops planted in secret places on the highway. Of course, this was a hubristic notion and there have been several times that I have driven with two speeding tickets on my record for a current year (the third your license is suspended), which has been the only deterrent on my penchant for speeding.
Then we got our Prius C last November, a bright red one. It took a while to learn to drive, that is to learn how to drive for maximum fuel efficiency. I’m in EcoPower mode all the time now. My goal is no longer getting to my destination as quickly as possible. In fact, my goal now is to get the highest mpg that I can. This means I have to concentrate on the way I drive. I need to accelerate slowly and maintain consistent speeds. If I drive too quickly, which happens to be faster than the speed limit, I lose mileage. The screens in the car tell me how well I am doing, though I don’t need to look at them anymore. I can viscerally feel if I am driving the car for the greatest miles per gallon. I need only pay attention to how I am driving. In fact, I focus on the intricacies of acceleration and deceleration which is physically manifested in how I use my right foot. I no longer get angry at the driver who has cut me off or is going too slowly. These become opportunities to finesse my driving. I’m in a kind of flow, without distracting thoughts about what I am going to do that day, what people I need to see, students I need to connect with, tasks I need to complete. When feelings about my day arise I notice them but then get back to driving. I still find room for nuance in the way I drive my bright red Prius C.
When I reach my destination, I glance at the screen to see how well I have done. Maybe one day I won’t even need to look at the screen, but I’m not a guru yet.
Today the 20 mile drive was made at 75.7 mpg. My best ever.