Friday, November 28, 2008
In my memory, the signifier came into itself when I was a teen and sitting in the passenger's seat of a boys car.
It is late, or curfew, and the night is ending--almost. If he let the car idle I knew that meant a quick "Bye!" and it's my signal to jump out and head to my front door. But, if he kills the engine, that's a clear sign to stay clear of the door handle because, well, we could be there awhile.
Though I haven't been in the passenger's seat of teen dating in a very long time, the signifier of an engine turning off is no less relevant today. Dropping a friend off after girl's night and killing the engine just to finish the thirty seconds of conversation that remain might make her feel a little strange and curious, as though I'm trying to extend the night beyond conversations end.
Here is where I want a change.
As I hope you already know, ten seconds of idling consumes more gasoline than turning off and starting your engine does. With this fact, killing the engine to avoid idling over ten seconds becomes beneficial in two ways. One, you are conserving gasoline and two, curbing unnecessary emissions.
How many moments of unnecessary idling do I go through in a week? This thought sprang on me recently and I have seen the answer clearly, since. Many.
Dropping off/picking up my dry cleaning, drive through coffee, stopping to drop something off at a friend's house, the occasions are often. Sitting at stop lights is the most obvious offender, as pedestrian crossing meters count the seconds down in my peripheral.
The potential down side of getting a new starter in my car slightly sooner than later is nothing as I look over the blanket of pollution covering my beautiful city and filling my child's lungs. Let's quit calling it 'haze' and 'smog' and call it what it is: toxic pollution, and the number one contributor in the Salt Lake Valley is OUR CARS.
So, the next time your dropping a friend off after a night out, consider turning the key while you wrap up the conversation. At worst, you might accidentally get some action.
Check out Idle Free Utah for more info.