So, here’s the problem. I am, or was, a gearhead. My Model S… has ruined all other cars, and possibly myself. If it was mechanical or technical, I had to tear it down, inspect it, and understand every nut, wire, carburettor, pump, display, and more. This story will be long enough without a backstory, so I’ll keep it short. I’m a Tesla Model S owner. For the past nine months I’ve been enjoying my incredibly quick, quiet, safe, intergalactic space boat of light and wonder. Until one day when a mean old Ford Escape merged in a gap that would only fit an even older, and even meaner, Geo Metro. I thought I loved my car. I thought it was the most amazing thing since the iPhone, with sliced bread being invented long before I was born. Then my world was torn apart by the damage to my S. A bumper. I think. Maybe some other parts, don’t know, don’t particularly care. The point is I have been without my space boat for almost two weeks and, like a heroin addict looking for that quick fix, I’ve been slowly rotting away inside. My soul has been crushed. Defeated, if you will, by the horrendous act of operating a gasoline-fueled automobile. I won’t go into specifics of the make and model of this antique transportation device, as it’s not its fault it’s broken. For too long, the mass production of automobiles has been ‘good enough,’ or in Land Rover engineering, “that’ll do.” But, again, that’s another story.
This story is the ruination of all automobiles. Upon attempting to enter this gas-fueled auto, I had to push a button. Even though the key fob was in my pocket. I was aggravated, but understood, having operating something similar in the before time. Henceforth known as BT. Before Tesla. Once granted access to this horseless carriage, I again was befuddled at the steps I’d long forgotten. “Starting” the car. Vague memories of annoying easily broken parts such as starters, alternators, and spark plugs came flooding back. I had to DO something. The car was waiting for ME to do something. I didn’t get in this car to paint my house. I didn’t get in this car to take a walk. I got in it, to go somewhere. Apparently, this was news to the car. So, I had to push a button labeled START. What a terrifying experience. Lights, buzzers, noises, vibrations. I thought something had exploded somewhere. No, luckily, it was just roughly 1,000 moving parts all slowing beginning to move in random directions, waiting for the most inopportune time to fail. I quietly as possible, as not to disturb the noises the car was making, adjusted the mirrors and attempted to get under way.
Within two miles, I needed something to drown out the random noises of a slowly wearing out mechanical device. The radio, I thought! But this was ‘radio’ radio. Not commercial-free, on-demand, digitally delivered music, but instead something my grandparents must have listened to. There was a knob involved. Apparently “FM” deciphered means, “knob that adjusts between static and commercials with static.” This, however, was no ordinary knob. This knob was located in an area with roughly 46 other buttons. I’d count them, but seriously, gave up around 40. There was even a “number pad” on the car. What’s a number? Who calls a number? I press “wife” and magically I’m connected to a woman who claims to be able to put up with me. I don’t know what numbers these are, but they look useless to me.
Thankfully! I found a screen. A nice big screen in the car that will surely help me out. I touched the part that said NAV. Nothing. I touched again. Nothing. I thought to myself, “wow, this must be one of those ‘lookin’ screens I’d heard about.” Before the whole touch thing was invented… even though this car was a 2015, it must have come off the assembly line before the whole iPhone craze. Back to the knobs. And buttons. So many freaking buttons. Even non-Tesla owners quickly became befuddled at the buttons. Launching a nuclear missile would most likely take fewer buttons. My wife (the woman who endures me), attempted to adjust the cabin temperature. Something someone may do in a car. But alas. It was no use. The car… was in reverse. Somehow, the entire 6” screen was now taken up by a blurry, compressed (aspect) image of what was roughly behind the vehicle. No feedback was given to the operator of the temperature control knob. Things may have been changing, may not have been, we will never know, as the car… was in reverse. Reverse must take all the priority! Interestingly, the audio level did decline when the car was in reverse. Something I didn’t mind. I give them credit for that one thing, of the thousand I don’t understand.
We have music (Sirius preview channel)! Now… where to? I know! GPS will save us. Entering an address became an exercise in futility. You input your address with a knob or wheel scrolling the 26 characters and 10 numbers that make up this thing called English. Entering a city such as Pittsburg takes roughly the same amount of time as driving there from Harrisburg. Fortunately for me, the screen makes a perfect spot to hold your iPhone. Setup with WAZE, I was back on my way!
Tesla has ruined acceleration. This car says sporty. It says soccer mom fun. It’s not. It accelerates like my riding mower. John Deere FTW. You press the pedal, and for the first 2-3”, nothing happens. Then, suddenly, without warning, noises occur. These noises, followed by what feels like being rear-ended, result in the car lurching forward. Each ‘shift’ results in the car feeling like something is wrong. It does this shifting up and down. Even when barely touching the pedal. Speaking of pedal… There’s another one that’s required quite often. The one that slows you down. This is because the car likes to coast after you remove your foot from the go pedal. This is a terrifying proposition. You feel like something is wrong or you are no longer in control. To regain control, you move to the wider pedal. You press it. Nothing. You press harder. Nothing. Finally, after well over a foot of travel, the vehicle slows. Amazing we have the power to slow a vehicle in 2015. Truly, we are living in an incredible time.
The car comes with several safety features designed to annoy the hell out of you, but not actually do anything. The car has a system that can detect when you are about to hit something. It’s been ingeniously tied to the barely functioning brake system. One would think this system would allow the car to avoid crashing into things, saving both itself and the occupants, but no. Apparently, that would have been too easy. Instead, if you are going to hit something, the car makes random noises, with no visual indication as to if it needs an oil change, or if you should have prepared your will. The car will attempt to do things to slow you down, like opening the sunroof, but crashing is totally going to happen anyway, so just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ambulance ride.
I need more lights: Okay, so we have the car ‘on,’ radio going, iPhone on GPS duty, and haven’t yet crashed into anything. Several lighted lines vaguely indicate what I think is the remaining go power. Talk about Range Anxiety: I’m going to be on the side of the road dead in 5 lights. I don’t know what 5 lights means, but according to some people, I can stop at a gas station and get some more lights.
I arrive at what looks like a post-apocalyptic wasteland. It smells awful, like burning. I step out of the car and my foot lands in a cross between a milkshake and vomit. I realize the smoke belcher is still ‘on.’ I reach back in to press ‘stop.’ I am prompted for money and my zip code. Money?! Seriously?! I grab the handle on a germ-covered, oil-soaked, metal nozzle. I spend the next 10 minutes moving an explosive, flammable, cancer-causing liquid. Not being HAZMAT certified, a few drops spill. Luckily it doesn’t faze anyone. $46?! They should be paying me to move this liquid. I think, the smell. The smell of a gas station is what you notice most after not being at one for nine months. People get food here. Not good food, but something called food.
I have more lights!
Bottom Line: I want my Model S back, and will further appreciate it and love it every day.
Reprinted with permission.