Monday, September 23, 2013

The Prius Game

For the record, I actually like the Prius. It has largely been responsible for a shift in Americans' outlook on fuel economy. It's pretty interesting from an engineering standpoint. And Toyota did a very nice job with the driving experience, although it's not exactly up my alley as far as driving experiences go.

All in all, it's an accessible car for a lot of people that easily lulls one into driving in an economical manner, and the car's powertrain and aerodynamics are designed to capitalize on those driving habits. So, Toyota, tip of the hat.

However, in California, it's a different story. They're everywhere. They're often a badge of environmental responsibility, unfortunately to the point where ownership offsets other sins. And they belch out smug. You know you've arrived in the big leagues when South Park tears you a new one.

So when a string of recent work trips took me to the Bay Area with some workmates, we rapidly found a way to occupy our traffic-choked voyages. We counted Prius. Without further ado, I present you with:

The Prius Game

Rule #1: The plural of Prius is Prius. First, there's no obvious way to speak about multiple Prius. Second (and this is the nail in the coffin), pluralizing Prius as Prius makes it sound like an infection.  "Boy, you sure do have a lot of Prius 'round here. You plannin' on doin' anything 'bout that?" Maybe a zombie infection. "Honey, it was awful. Prius everywhere. Silently and slowly stalking me. I watched them kill a cyclist." So to recap, the plural of Prius is Prius.

Rule #2: No matter which Variation of the Prius Game you're playing, you may not reuse a Prius.

Rule #3: Any vintage or generation of Prius is eligible.

Variation A (rookie mode): Count Prius. We did this on our first trip. It was so disruptive that the rest of our drive both ways was pretty much ruined. Dude, seriously, we couldn't go ten seconds without spotting one. "So the thing about this approach to eye tracking is that PRIUS god damn it shut up already PRIUS." When we played the game this way, we were in the several hundreds within a few hours of driving.

Variation B (semi-pro mode): Count pairs of Prius. We did this on our second trip. Counting single Prius was simply too disruptive. So the new rule was that you had to see two Prius at the same time, and then you could count a pair. One could be parked and one driving, or two driving opposite directions, or both driving the same direction, whatever. Hilariously, it took exactly 3 seconds after announcing this rule to see our first pair. We still counted 50+ pair during a few hours of driving. Our record was 5 Prius visible at the same time.

Variation C (god mode): Looking to up the ante yet again, on our next trip we announced a new rule. Still count pairs of Prius, visible at the same time, but they both have to be the same color. Again, hilariously, it was no more than 4 seconds after announcing this rule that we snagged our first matched pair. So this cut our bounty down to 21 pair, but still a pretty good haul considering the constraints.

Variation C marked a change in our driving patterns and awareness of nearby Prius. Since matching a pair is pretty difficult, we'd have to be hyper-aware of any that were traveling with us that could be matched up with an oncoming Prius. So knowing that there was a gold, a silver, and a blue alongside us made for a good method of filtering the oncoming ones, usually alerting us with their telltale double-bubble roofline. We also maybe found ourselves hanging nearby a same-direction Prius longer than we would have otherwise, purely in hopes of finding its match. This is the automotive equivalent of being a barnacle, with the sole exception that the only thing a Prius has in common with either a whale or a ship is a striking inability to get out of its own way.

We're looking for a suitable new rule for Variation D. I'm considering counting lone Prius between matched pairs. Thus, going for a high score of maybe 90 Prius in between seeing two of the same color at the same time.

I don't think anything will beat the coincidence we happened upon during our first trip, though. On 680 South, we were in the leftmost of 4 lanes, and the remaining 3 lanes had adjacent silver Prius. This is the holy grail of smug: a synchronized matched triplet.

Actually taking a photo of a matched pair was deceptively difficult.  Enjoy, and feel free to suggest new Rules, Variations, or awesome spottings of your own.

Smugly, and until next time...



Steve Hammond said...

Elliot... Recently up in Incline Village I witnessed the extremely rare "Pimped Out Prius". This beast was all black out with tinted windows, custom rims, performance tires, and a chrome tailpipe. I'm pretty sure the driver had lowered the suspension. If you worked the Pimpin' Prius into your game then anyone who sighted such a vehicle would be a defacto instant winner!

petedignan said...

Eliot, I'm tempted to go out right now and buy a second Prius and park it next to my 2008. And as a Skip Barber grad, I attest that my Sport edition handles like something out of The Fast and the Furious. With maybe a *little* plow under hard cornering. :-)

Past Detritus