Goodbye to the mother ship and hello to the pod

Horner's Corner

I generally try to keep a positive attitude about things and that has certainly been the case with the recent spike in gas prices.

“I’m a busy guy,” I would say, as the numbers spun on the gas pump. 

“I don’t have time to wait around gassing up and now, putting in my $20 hardly takes any time at all. This is awesome!”

That’s $20 I’m pumping into the mother ship pretty much every single day — and if gas prices rise again this summer, which they usually do, that tab will jump to maybe $25 or even higher.

At some point, even Pollyanna has a breaking point and when gas went to $1.30 per litre in Oceanside, that’s when I reached mine and I began to seriously question my love affair with the V6 MPV my mom offered to me for a buck when my parents bought a new van four years ago.

Yeah, it’s roomy and certainly more reliable than my old Neon, which, by the end, was sending up smoke from under the dashboard pretty much every time I drove it — not a selling feature, I’m told. 

I can read the writing on the wall though, and what I’m seeing is a continually rising cost of gas and a resulting a need to change the way I do business.

Enter the pod.

It’s a Tomos — jet black Yugoslavian 49 cc scooter that can go 50, maybe 60 kilometres per hour if I wind her right out, there’s a tail wind and I’m going downhill.

True, it’s still gasoline powered, but my little pod should be able to reduce my consumption of fossil fuel by maybe two thirds or even more — and making my commute from my home in Qualicum Bay to my work in Parksville a twice-daily adventure.

That’s the scary part. 

I’ve seen more and more people riding scooters and motorized bicycles as the price of gas rises and I’ve always thought they were brave —perhaps foolish — for putting along at the side of the road when there are so very many road pigs like mine out there with drivers in a rush to get to the next stop light before anyone else.

Well, you gotta live large, so I bought the reflective vest, the flashing lights and, of course, the helmet and insurance I need, so as soon as my courage is screwed up enough, I’m going to join life in the slow lane.

Obviously this plan won’t work in the winter and I’m going to have to keep the mother ship ready to roll in the case of inclement weather, but I’m fully aware I don’t really need to pack all that empty space and metal around with me. 

With any luck, I should be able to make this lifestyle change with a minimum of pain.

It helps, I suppose, that I’ve always looked at motor vehicles as tools — like a pencil or a hammer — rather than as status symbols or sex objects. Anyone who has seen my less-than-pristine van drive by with the rubber chicken dangling from the mirror can see that. 

So no, I probably won’t look particularly cool or sexy as I slowly buzz my way to work at the side of the road, but maybe I’ll have more money in my pocket at the end of the day and, as a bonus, I’ll have lessened my environmental footprint at the same time.

It would be great if I could actually survive this new plan, so if you guys could avoid cutting corners and crowding the slow lane, that would be great.

Wish me luck.


Neil Horner is the assistant editor of The News and is a regular columnist