11 September 2009

Why do I drive an Electric Mini Cooper...?

Today, of all days, seems to be the day to answer (in part) this question:

Why did I choose to be a part of this Mini-E program?

It must be because I'm such a geek that has to have the latest technology, right?

Yeah, well... Maybe. Who else but a true geek would be happy driving a car that can go only 100 or so miles between fill-ups? Or, would be "ok" and otherwise accepting of the fact that it'll take more than a week to replace just one "faulty battery module #42?" (More on the pending repair in another, future post...)

Of course, that kind of attitude is to be expected of someone who's a dedicated "greenie," an "eco-warrior"... A person like me then, right?

::scoff:: As anyone who knows me well can tell you, I'm FAR from being a "crunchy granola, hemp-wearing, Wiccan-believing, 'Earth-child!'" Nope.

I still love my nearly 12-year old, gas-powered, CO2-emitting Honda CR-V. (Not as big of a gas suck as a GMC Suburban or a Hummer, say. But still, 20-MPG is on the low end of the mileage spectrum of "eco-friendly" vehicles!)

And if I use a Styrofoam cup for my coffee or soda or buy a disposable plastic bottle of water, I'm not whipping myself for "dissing Earth-mother Gaia" or feel I have to run out and plant 20 young sapling in remission of my "environmental sins."

Oh... well... Then, I must be the opposite! One of those rich snobs who have more money than sense and want to flaunt my "eco-ness" out of pure vanity...

"Lookit me! I'm elite!!! I have an electric Mini in this cute, distinctive livery... Available to ONLY 500 drivers... A select few who could afford to blow $850 a month on this so-very-rare, but so-very-Earthy-eco-chic car... for ONLY a year! I'm special!!!"

::scoff:: I wish... And as others remind me, for what I'm paying for #339 I could have gotten a really much-nicer, finely-equipped, lux mobile... a BMW 7-series... a Mercedes... But for a Mini Cooper??

("Boy, Mini must be/should be treating you like Royalty, then!" Hmmph!!! Another "I wish!!")

So why did I become a Mini-E pioneer?

In part: Because of Sept. 11, 2001.

I remember that day.

I worked (back then) for a news organization for one of the major TV networks. And I remember every single, horrid moment.

While many of us were glued to our TVs watching the news... It was "news gatherers" like I who were just flooded with information... TOO much information... And the sense of panic from some very "seasoned journalists" out in "the field" that day.

But of all the things I remember seeing... During those first 24 hours... And the days that seemed to drag on... Mostly, I remember:

The footage of people in certain OPEC nations... shouting... chanting... singing... celebrating what had happened to us Americans.

I also remember the week after 9/11, my sister picked up and drove home a brand new 2001 Toyota Prius.

Yes, my sister and I were "pioneers" back then too because we actually ordered the Prius back in April 2001 -- way before many folks thought hybrid technology was "ready for prime time" or worth the "extra cost." After all, gas wasn't even close to $2 a gallon!!! (Ahhh... the good old days!)

But, I was enthralled with the technology and wanted to show her how it worked by taking her to a Toyota dealership "just for a test drive" back then.

We weren't planning on buying a new car in April 2001. But after she drove it AND heard of all the advantages of (and dealer incentives for) the Prius... She was sold. ("How can I not buy this car?" I believe I remember her asking that day.)

And I certainly felt better because after Sept. 11, 2001, I truly believed in this simple equation:

Prius = less gas = less need for imported oil = less money to OPEC = less money to people who plan/carry out Sept. 11-like attacks = less need to send troops to said OPEC nations to secure flow of said imported oil = less "reasons" for people to blindly hate Americans!!!

Did we change the world? Maybe. (To say anything else would be pure hubris!)

I certainly know for a fact that for the weeks and months following 9/11/2001, we "Prius pioneers" were certainly stopped by a lot of people who asked us A LOT of questions... Does it really save a lot of gas? How does it work? Does it drive like a "real" car? Where do you plug it in? (Heh!)

And, I know for a fact that today hybrid car technology is much more prevalent among the minds of consumers and car-makers!

So, will I and the hundreds of other Mini-E pioneers "change the world?" Again, that would be pure hubris!

BUT, I do know that I'm being asked almost the same questions about #339 now as I was being asked about the Prius in 2001. (Only this time, they're asking, "Is that a hybrid? How come it doesn't have a gas cap?" Heh!)

Finally, in remembrance of this day, eight years ago...

A precious few -- despite over-whelming odds and impossible situations -- chose to stand and do what they believed was right. Even if, as was the case of United Flight 93, the outcome meant their death, that handful possibly prevented the death of thousands.

I don't know if Kennedy really said, "One man can make a difference."

But it certainly seems true.

So to all my fellow Mini-E Pioneers, electric car enthusiasts and friends... On this day, in the immortal words of Todd Beamer:

"Let's roll!"

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