I pull up to the stop light and of course put on my brakes. My 17-year-old shakes his head disapprovingly. “Mom, you are just ruining it.” “What am I completely messing up now?” As the mom of a teenager, I seem to be able to do the wrong thing at least five times a day. “What?” “Mom, I had the mileage up to 46 miles per gallon!” “OK, and how am I ruining it?” “You just braked, you should have just coasted.” “Well, I needed to stop the car.” Yep, I most certainly have no idea how to drive after almost 30 years.
How did this happen? Is this the same kid who loves Lamborghini’s? The same kid that leaves all lights and fans on when exiting his room and any other room he has come into? What has he become? I start to worry. I have never read about this condition in any parenting magazines and my mom most certainly never told me to look for the warning signs. He finally comes clean with me and admits it. He is a hypermiler.
I am not good about dealing with these kinds of things — you know, when someone tells you something deeply personal and you have no idea what they are talking about. But you feel the urge to be supportive and not stoop to asking that burning question of, “Huh?” I went to water polo and sheepishly sat there — dare I ask any of the other parents, “So has your son said anything about being a hypermiler?” What if they suddenly got up and walked away from me? What if they said, “No, but he told me about your son.” Did he need professional help or did I?
So the next time it happened and I dared to accelerate to make the light, he cringed. I just had to ask, “So what exactly is a hypermiler?” He excitedly told me that I needed to change my driving and start trying to drive more like I am riding a bike. Images of Fred and Barney with their feet wildly peddling their stone-wheeled hot rod come to mind. But I took a deep breath and tried it. I did as much coasting as I could to try to conserve energy and I tried to drive the speed limit and quit the jackrabbit starts. Well, it does work. The mileage is getting better.
My son is now reading websites on how to get the most out of our hybrid and frankly I think he is a much safer driver as he strives to “beat his own score” on the mpg screen and keeping it under the speed limit. So give it a try and drive like you are on a bike, except the seat is much more comfortable.