First things first. Go over to Kara‘s blog and give her a virtual hug. She needs it right now.

Alrighty then … now that we got that bit out of the way …

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So the title of my latest rambling is “Emily Goes Green.” (Duh, sayeth the reader. The title is right there!)

And no, I don’t mean that I’m going “green with envy” … although the fact that my SIL is due to deliver by c-section in a mere 4 weeks might have me feeling more blue-ish/green (turquoise, if you will) for a spell. I just hope it’s not one of those spells that have me riding up and down and upside-down, much like a roller coaster.

Check out the "green" toilet in the Portland, OR airport!

Check out the "green" toilet in the Portland, OR airport!

Nah, I’m talking about the “social awareness” type of green. You know, save the environment, Mother Earth needs to be nurtured, etc. You see, I’ve always been “green” in some sort of way since my later years in high school. Did a lot of recycling of paper, plastic and aluminum for most of my life. Collected newspapers for school recycling projects. (Heck, I’ve also been known to use the Sunday Comics as wrapping paper!)

In fact, at work I’ve been called the paper recycle queen. I’ve collected the stupid d*mn banner sheets off of our printer / copy machines and have forced people to reuse the back of the banner sheets in our fax machines. I’ve encouraged people not to print up things that they can readily access off of their computer. I’ve helped to establish desktop faxing so there is less waste of paper. I’ve stopped buying bottled water and instead have been filling up my reusable water bottle from the filtered tap water in our cafeteria.

Here's a closer look at the "Green" toilet instructions!

Here's a closer look at the "Green" toilet instructions!

And I do all this because I know (even before watching “An Incon.venient Tr.uth” ) that mass consumption is going to be the death of our earth. (Go see “W.all-E“, by the way …)

So imagine my surprise when we went to pick up our rental car during our recent trip to San Diego (which, by the way … pictures are forthcoming!) and found out that the rental company assigned a hybrid vehicle to us. Yeah, I was ecstatic … because for the past couple years, Hubby & I have been thinking of getting a hybrid vehicle.

Let me preface this by saying a couple of things:

  1. We live in the Motor City, so everyone (and I do mean everyone) owns a vehicle because … G*d forbid, we have any reliable source of mass transportation (and no, the Pe.ople Mo.ver does NOT count) …
  2. Hubby works approximately an hour and a half away from where we live and has single-handedly put on over 200,000 miles on both of our cars over the past five years or less … AND
  3. Gas prices just SUCK

So yeah … having rented this vehicle just happened to provide us with a great opportunity for us to test-drive a hybrid. If only the first half hour wasn’t so damn funny … and I do mean funny as in “strange” and funny as in “ha ha!”

Now, Kara … I have to warn you, you’ve already heard this story … so, turn away if you must!

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Okay, picture this. It’s 11:45 pm California time (PST). Our friend J and I are waiting for Hubby outside in the rental car lot while he signs the paperwork. Hubby come out and excitedly tells me that they rented out a hybrid vehicle to us. And because we have about 5 bags (including our carry-ons) among us, Hubby said that he’d walk to the rental and then drive back to pick us up.

The Magic Key

The Magic Key

About ten minutes later, no car. Suddenly my mobile phone goes off and I immediately know that it’s Hubby. “I need your help,” he says. “Can you walk over to the car and take a look at something for me?” So I walk a couple hundred feet to the white To.yota Pr.ius, where Hubby has the car door open and is handing me a keychain containing two keyless entry remotes. “I can’t figure out how to get to the key out to start the car.”

I look at the little black rectangular keyless entry remotes and think that perhaps there’s some sort of button on it to “release” the key; much like some other cars do. After about 5 minutes of pushing and pulling and sliding different thingies on the remote, Hubby decides to walk back to our friend J so that the two of them can bring all our baggage over.

In the mean time, I slide into the driver’s seat to get to the compartment where the owner’s manual should be. And then I see this green, glow-in-the-dark rectangle by the steering wheel. No way … I remember thinking. It can’t be that easy.

"By the Power of Greyskull ..."

"By the Power of Greyskull ..."

But sure enough, I take the keyless remote and slide it right into the green rectangle. And suddenly there’s lights and a beeping noise as if I left the car door open (which I did) with the keys still in the ignition (which apparently the remote was the the key).

And yet … no sound of the car running. “Oh,” I say out loud, as I notice this big round button that says “Power” on it. Perhaps if I push the button …. but still nothing. By this time, Hubby & J are by my side, amazed that I even figured out how to get the keys in the car. And yet, every time any of us go to press the “Power” button, we would get no indication that the car was actually running.

So now it’s about 12:15 am PST, which … for those who just flew in from Michigan … is about 3:15 am EST, the three of us had poured over the d*mn owner’s manual with absolutely no idea on how to start the car. And all we wanna do is get to our hotel room so we can crash for the night. “This is ridiculous,” says Hubby. “I’m gonna ask the girl inside.” And so off he stalks.

Within 3 minutes he’s back at the car. “She says to press the brake while pushing the power button.” (Because that little bit of info is nowhere in the owner’s manual!) And so he complies. Bingo … the digital odometer finally appears as well as a slew of other important car features (climate control being my priority, of course!). “There we go,” says Hubby, as he starts to shift the car into drive.

The Funky Gear Shift (and the Park button, too!)

The Funky Gear Shift (and the Park button, too!)

“Wait,” I say to Hubby. “Are you sure it’s even running? I don’t hear a thing!”

“It is,” Hubby assures me. “The girl said the engine is extremely quiet, so it always tends to fool first-time hybrid users.” After that, he presses the brakes and places the car into “Drive.” And once he lets go of the gear shift, it promptly returns back into neutral. “Weird,” Hubby says and tries it again. And once again, the gear shift returns to the neutral position.

J and I look at each other and I know we’re both thinking the same thing: “How the h*ll do we get this car to move forward. Or backward. Or at all?!

“Oh, I get it,” says the driver. “I think the gear shift is a simple lever.” Sounds strange, but I knew that Hubby meant that really … the car could move either forward or reverse at the touch of a button. But because we’ve all gotten so used to the concept of a gear shift, the carmaker developed a contraption that works very similar to what we were familiar with. And once we all understood that, Hubby “pseudo-shifted” the car into Drive,” and finally got the car to move forward.

Wicked (and I mean WICKED) Interior

Wicked (and I mean WICKED) Interior

In the midst of our short drive to the hotel, we discovered other crazy things about the car. For instance, the digital display monitor is multi-functional and controls not only the interior climate but the radio tuner as well. And when the car is placed in reverse, the digital display monitor functions as the screen for the “backup camera” feature, which allows for a view of the car’s rear area. “How frickin’ cool,” we all think when we see it for the first time.

By the time we pull up to our hotel, it’s about 1:00 am PST (4:00 am EST, if you’re keeping track of how long our day has been). “Uh …,” says Hubby. “Now how do I put this sucker in park?” I glance over at the display and confirm that there is no “Park” option in the gear shift. I shrug my shoulders as Hubby and I both happen to catch this little sticker label right by the gear shift. “Push the ‘P’ button to place in Park,” Hubby reads out loud.

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So yeah … that was our first ever experience with a hybrid vehicle. I have no idea if this is what other hybrid vehicles are like, but this one certainly had the three of us simultaneously banging our heads up against the car window and laughing our a$$es off.

Making the world a little greener ...

Making the world a little greener ...

Now ask me if I’d ever drive another To.yota Pr.ius again, and the answer is a resounding yes. After figuring out how to work everything in the car, the little bugger was so d*mn cool. But the best part was … after about six days of driving the car essentially all over San Diego and as far up as Del Mar, we only used a half a tank of gas. That’s almost 250 miles of driving at a mere 4-5 gallons of gas.

Makes me wanna paint the whole world green …