Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Single-handedly raising blood pressures and the incidence of road rage all over Knox County

A lot of the people whose blogs I read regularly (okay, all of them) are geeks. This is probably because we are all geeks in some way, and those ways tend to manifest themselves quite openly when we're writing semi-anonymously on the internet. And hooray for that, I say. I'm writing this preface as an apology for my own new-found geekiness that I am about to bore you with, should you choose to read on: I am becoming a fuel-efficiency geek.

You may recall a post I wrote a while back about slowing down to save gas (a post I then adapted into a short article for publication and got paid for; not sure if they ever actually ran it). I was just getting started then, but have since increased my mileage with each successive tank of gas. I've maintained my self imposed speed-limit, jacked up the air pressure in my tires, and continue to refine my driving habits. The tank of gas I'm on right know has taken me 450 miles and I've still got just under a quarter of it to go (it's a 20-gallon tank). This won't impress any Prius drivers, but it's pretty sweet for a pickup truck.

Yesterday, though, I met my match. Tooling down the interstate in the right lane at a fuel-efficient 54 mph, I came upon... another car. Another car? Of course there are other cars on the interstate at 5:45 p.m. on a Tuesday, lots of them in fact. But at 54 mph, I never come upon them, they come upon me, and really quickly (that sounds ridiculously dirty to more perverted readers, I'm sure.) Seriously, some asshole was doing 50 in the right lane! The nerve! That's my gig! He stole my thing! I'm the slow guy, dickhead, not you! Toyota-driving, fuel-sipping do-gooder. Get your own thing. Toyotas are for cheaters, anyway. (Or maybe he read my proselytizing article. I didn't think of that.)

So I passed him to the right in the exit-only lane (without accelerating, of course, because that wastes gas) and looked him over real good as I slid by at my breakneck 54 mph, sizing up the competition, you know.

I reclaimed my mantle as king of the slowpokes this morning, though. The kind lady in the brand new Chevy Silverado who was nice enough to let me in to the line of traffic bacame a bit antsy as I drifted over the Henley Street Bridge, allowing my momentum to carry me the quarter-mile to the red light up ahead. No sense burning gas to get to a red light faster, right? She zoomed around me and pulled in front; of course, seconds later I rolled slowly to a stop right behind her and we both sat and waited for the light to change. Eventually, the people on Chapman Highway in the morning are going to start recognizing me and quit letting me in line.

You hate drivers like me, don't you?

I don't give a shit, because somehow I'm going to get 30 miles per gallon out of my 12-year-old truck. Somehow. And then I will laugh heartily at Silverado lady and her silly 15 mpg. Her truck is shinier, though. Maybe she gets a laugh out of that at my expense. Good for her.


surviving myself said...


Meaghan said...

Sometimes getting behind a driver like you would piss me off, but other times... eh, what's the rush? I pissed off some lady on the way to work this morning because I wasn't going 60 in a 45 and I waited until the turn lane was actually visible to get into it. She rode my ass the whole way into work. I almost chewed her out when we got into the parking lot, but I refrained...

nancypearlwannabe said...

You are the guy I want to ram on the highway. Just saying. Boston is a high-stakes driving place though, we play for keeps. Maybe you're safe in Knoxville.

Allie said...

You are totally going to be one of those hyper-mile-y guys who adds weird fenders made from aluminum foil to your truck soon, aren't you?

That will be a proud day, sir.

em said...

I think you need to get some sort of bumper sticker. Something terrible like "Slow Down, We'll All Get To Heaven One Day." I dont even know if that bumper sticker exists, but I wish with all my heart that it does. For you.

Stefanie said...

I actually think of you on the highway all the time now, hearing you urging me to stop racing along at 65 mph for no good reason when I'd be saving gas if I just went 55. I know I should listen to you, but I just can't make myself drive slow. :-(

Also, I hear there are web sites where you can compete with other drivers to log the best gas mileage. I think they're aimed just at hybrid owners, but maybe you could inspire some people in gas guzzling vehicles to do the same.

Noelle said...

Who are you calling a geek?

I drive slow sometimes. I wish I had a bumper sticker that said, "if you're going to get that close to my ass, buy me dinner first."

Oh, and when you are starting your car by pushing it down a steep hill and jumping in as it gains momentum via gravity, you've gone too far.

Anonymous said...

my work pays for my gas so stay out of my way or i will make you pay, we can make things out of clay, go eat some hay, i just may.


JustinStanley said...

One day, they'll figure out a way to supplement your gasoline with the processed fat left over from liposuction patients. Then you'll be able to creep up to a respectable 56 mph without any guilt.

Kinda like Fight Club, but without Brad Pitt.

Or Ed Norton.

Or any clubs.

And without any fighting.

So really nothing like Fight Club.

I liked Fight Club.

Mickey said...

surviving myself- Yes?

meaghan- Good for you and your restraint.

npw- Yeah, you'd want to ram me, but you probably wouldn't. That's the gamble I'm taking.

allie- I don't think I'll be making aerodynamic modifications anytime soon, but I have been considering removing the tailgate and any other unnecessary weight.

em- I like your sticker idea. How about "I drive slow so you don't have to"? Also doesn't make sense.

stefanie- Oh, but it's not a competition. I do it for the love. And I think of you every time I knit. But I don't knit.

noelle- I've considered the rolling start because I do live on a hill. And nobody rides my ass because they can tell right away that it won't do any good, so they just go around. And to answer: You, ya geek.

hightower- Come on, man- it's not just a money thing. It's an oil thing. Support the troops- use less gas.

justinstanley- Yup, Fight Club is good.

Chris said...

I bought a tire pressure gauge the other day with improved gas mileage in mind. I haven't used it yet, though. Maybe I'll name it Mickey.

By the way, nice "damn skippy" quote.

Courtney said...

I like Em's bumper sticker idea, except it should say "Slow down, we'll all get to heaven one day. Except you. You're going to hell." I would totally put that on my car, even though I hate bumper stickers.

Aaron said...

I admire your resolve, and while it might be tempting for me to try, the fact is, I get fussy and antsy if I'm not going over 65. I think driving in MA all the time will do that to you.

The Modern Gal said...

Errrr, maybe I should slow down in my Silverado and try to save gass too.

Ha. Just kidding, I drive a gas sipping Mazda. I'll try not to run you over if I see you on the streets.

Vanessa said...

Around my house I'm known as the gas mileage Nazi. I'm always taking things out of the trunk of the car because they make it heavier thus using more gas, screetch when the SO takes off too fast from a red light, and in general watch the MPG like a hawk. We have a corolla that gets 36 mpg on average and the audi gets 26-28 depending on who is driving it. Oh, I keep a spread sheet to track progress as well.

Jacob said...

Don't remove the tailgate. The Mythbusters tested that and because trucks are now aerodynamically designed to have the gate up, having the gate down actually increases drag and lowers gas mileage. I won't go into the details, but I remember their demonstration of the air flow differences and the actual gas mileage test.

Jacob said...

I had a similar experience the other day. I was heading for the Interstate on a two-lane highway where the speed limit is never higher than 55 and I had the cruise set at 58. This is the middle of the most rural part of Georgia and usually I'm passing people at 58, but for some reason there was a line of cars building up behind me. I don't drive near the speed limit because of fuel efficiency worries (the continuously variable transmission reduces the effects of speed on fuel consumption), but because of fear of speeding tickets that I've had a few times too many in the past. The first two in the line were charter buses who apparently wanted to get to the Interstate a little more quickly. The first one passed me and then slowed down. To 20 mph. I'm not kidding. I'm guessing his goal was to keep the second bus directly behind him and let him pass me, but the problem is that the road winds and rarely has safe passing opportunities, especially for a charter bus, so the jackass in front of me slowed everyone down for the last 3 miles until we hit the passing lane where he could have passed me without being an idiot or unsafe. Instead he made us all take more than twice the time to get to the passing lane just so he could be in front of me.

I was planning on passing him back the first chance I got, but didn't get a chance and didn't bother going out of my way on the passing lane just to be an ass.

Julie said...

I'm pretty good at the coasting and keeping it to reasonable speeds in most circumstances. The problem with my commute is the need for acceleration. If you don't make someone let you into their lane in Atlanta, you will not get there.

Beej said...

From now on, I am only going to drive backwards. They way I understand car things, this will actually remove greenhouse gasses and put unrefined oil back into the Canadian coal shale.

Mickey said...

chris- It's good to know someone notices the quotes. Get those tires hard as rocks.

courtney- That's a million-dollar idea.

aaron- I felt the same way. You just have to get over it and realize you're not getting anywhere any faster that way.

modern gal- Go Mazda!

vanessa- You're my kinda gal.

jacob- I recall that their findings were that it wasn't a huge difference. My concern is not aerodynamics, it's weight. The tailgate must weigh fifty lbs. or more.

jacob- Good story. That's ridiculous.

julie- Yeah, it can be tough finding ways to not accelerate quickly without being dangerous.

beej- Yes, but your neck gets really sore after a while. Bonus for the coal shale mention; way to bring science into the discussion.

sid said...

You must be talking about your other readers because I'm no geek.
Wow, can you imagine that? There's actually another good person out there in the world trying to save the environment. Shame on him.

ck said...

my biggest pet peeve is when i'm conscientiously cruising and an ultra-slow car cuts me off briefly, especially going uphill. then i have to brake, they accelerate away in their v8, and i have to burn more gas to get back up to cruising speed, especially 'cause the 240 has a wee engine.

Mickey said...

sid- You are a geek. In some way, you are definitely a geek.

ck- That's just rude. I freakin' hate it when somebody kills my momentum.

Doug McCaughan said...

Now if you really want to geek it up, you need to get an Arduino and put a display in your back window that shows your current speed and average miles per gallon to the driver behind you.

Mickey said...

doug- I don't think I'm going to be going that far. Interesting idea, though.