I'm officially done with the Prius. I turned it back in to the rental car place.* I've learned I'm not a Prius person. I used to think I was one but I'm not. I never got used to pushing a button to turn the car on, to shifting gears at face level, to pushing the car, via button, into park, to feeling the shuddering as the engine switched randomly back and forth from electric to gas motor, and I never got used to the fleeting feeling of panic anytime I wanted to change the a/c temp or change the radio station (because it was in some weird computer screen form, you see). I also managed to turn the Prius into a gas guzzler, at least by Prius standards. When I got the car it was doing about 44 mpg - not bad. As I drove it along, I managed to hit the high, high average of 35 to 37. I'm not saying that's a bad mpg, that's great. But for a Prius? Not so much. And I have no clue how I did it. I blame it on the air conditioning. I don't think hybrid cars are made to sit in traffic in the Texas heat, especially on 100+ degrees days. Oh and the really loud beeping that filled the car everytime I used the knob to put the car in reverse? Terribly annoying.
All that said, I did feel a certain smugness at times, like squishy suggested. I think the Prius gives you a superiority complex on the road, like you know all those other cars are burning through their fuel while you're obsessing about battery power. It's like an immediate "I break for lower dependence on foreign oil sources" bumper sticker. It's pretty much like the feeling you get when you send out charity cards at xmas time (i.e. the local food bank xmas cards saying a donation was made in your name, etc., etc., etc.). Wait. It's even better than that. It's more like wearing an "I Voted" sticker while handing out food to the homeless, all while you're volunteering at a big brothers/big sisters event. Yeah, it's more like that.
Don't everyone go buy a Prius now. Toyota car salespeople are already too smug. If I see another one on CNN talking about waiting lists, I just might hurl. Car salespeople are made to be despised and unhappy, not satiated and content. The two just don't mesh. Go buy a truck. Those guys are definitely frustrated and angry. I bet you'll get a better deal too.
*The rental car place is in a nearby hotel and I went to return the car in my pilates outfit as I was about to go to pilates. The hotel was apparently hosting some kind of golfers/drunkard convention and - I'm guessing for shits and giggles - the hotel blocked off all of my normal exits with huge black curtains. As a result I began to frantically pull back tall pieces of fabric in an insane attempt to flee the middle-aged men and frosted women, an attempt in which I was unsuccessful. I ended up scaling the perimeters of the hotel lobby and finding myself in some kind of alley where cars were entering and exiting at great speeds. I didn't care. At least I was out. Lesson of the week: avoid hotel lobbies in downtown areas in the middle of the week. It's a carnival, i.e. where all the carnies (freaks aka middle-aged men and divorcees) hang out.