To Hybrid Or Not To Hybrid? A Few Key Questions To Ask

By John H. McCord, DPM

      I noticed a small piece of paper under the windshield wiper of my car as I started to leave the doctors’ parking lot of the hospital. I stopped and retrieved what turned out to be a prescription. There was no name on it and it was not signed. There was a scrawled inscription: “Be sure to remove foil wrapper before inserting. Ha Ha!”       One of my colleagues was making fun of the fact that my new car resembles a suppository. I took a mental inventory of possible suspects who had reason to get back at me for past pranks. The list quickly grew quite long.       I noticed during the past two years that the hospital parking lot was dotted with a bunch of deformed looking, butt-ugly little Toyotas that said “Hybrid” on the trunk. A couple of them showed up in the doctors’ parking area. One time a hybrid pulled up silently behind me and I heard a loud, “Out of my way, Dr. Foot.” I jumped straight up and turned to see an internist friend in his Toyota Prius.       He had just purchased the ugly thing and blathered on about getting 60 miles per gallon in town and 50 miles per gallon on the road. Mainly, he just liked sneaking up on people because the thing runs on a silent electric motor at low speeds. The gasoline engine kicks in when power is needed for higher speed.       I was beginning to think a Prius might make an ideal car since it is doubtful that things in the Middle East will settle down any time soon. The only reluctance I had was that I noticed that one of the orthopods is driving a Prius. He spoke highly of the car, which surprised me because orthopods do not tend to speak highly about anything.       The 2007 models became available a few months ago. A couple of weeks ago, I passed the Toyota dealership on a Saturday morning. I watched as a white Prius covered with protective plastic was unloaded from a truck. I made an illegal U-turn and pulled into the lot.       I began ogling the Prius and tried to look through the dust encrusted windows to see what options it had. A sales guy came out and asked if he could answer any questions. I asked, “Is this one sold?”       He answered, “This was an extra we got because we met our quota.”       “I will take it! How much does it cost?”       We kind of worked backward. I had to endure the standard sales pitch, which included the litany of possible options. It turned out that this car had them all, including a GPS navigator.       Since I have been a pilot for 42 years, I presumed that the navigation system of this deformed little half electric/half gas Toyota would be no problem. I presumed wrong.       The auto purchase rituals took place. A hybrid technician spent an hour showing me how to drive the thing. He set the navigation system to guide me to my house and I drove away.       The irritating voice of a nagging woman began telling me when to turn and which direction. I tried to turn her off because I was having some issues with the gearshift, a deformed looking little knob on the dashboard. There was no way to shut her up.       I stopped at a supermarket on the way home and the navigation lady got all bent out of shape because of her perception that I had made a wrong turn and an unscheduled stop. I parked in the supermarket lot and discovered that my one-hour lesson had not included methods of shutting the car off. The navigation hag kept trying to get me to make a U-turn and get back on the road for home. I kept trying to shut the car off. She kept nagging. I finally yelled “Shut the *^#@ up!” Shoppers walking past stared at me. “It looks like Dr. Foot forgot to take his medication, Henry. Poor guy … works so hard.”       I called the Toyota dealer and asked to speak to a crisis counselor. They arranged for another one-hour session.       I have had the Prius for a while now. I have made peace with the navigation lady. I still struggle with the hands-free phone. I really like buying about 5 gallons of low octane gas a week. The car does not seem that ugly anymore.       The best part of all is that the orthopod has cheap cloth seats and I have leather.       Dr. McCord (pictured) is a Diplomate with the American Board of Podiatric Surgery. He practices at the Centralia Medical Center in Centralia, Wash.

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