No Matter How Bad Your Day Is, You Can Always Drive a Tesla

The Tesla Emerges from the Shadows of The Garage
The Tesla Emerges from the Shadows of The Garage

When I woke up on Wednesday morning, I didn’t really expect to get the call from my Rheumatologist about my health insurance.  It was about 8:04 AM and I was in the middle of my morning routine, about to go fix breakfast, when the call came in on my phone.  Under normal circumstances, I’ll let the phone go to voicemail and call back after I’ve eaten breakfast and gotten some Yerba Maté caffeine into my bloodstream.

I avoid serious or stressful dialogue before breakfast for one simple reason:

The thoughts and conversations that we have before breakfast will shape the rest of our day.

I think it’s worth it to get started right in the morning, even if that means waking up very early to write morning pages and get my creativity flowing, or to do half an hour of Tai Chi.

I broke my own rule Wednesday morning. I had a really frustrating conversation about health insurance rules and bureaucracies first thing in the morning, and it really threw my day for a loop.

I’ve written before about living with Rheumatoid Arthritis, and touched on the health insurance dilemma.  If you’ve had to negotiate for care from your health insurance provider, you know how those conversations can be frustrating.  My rheumatologist was verifying that I do indeed have about 5% cartilage in my ankles and about 40% in my knees.  The insurance company wanted to quantify and measure me, and do it at 8:04 in the morning.

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I had to leave my house without breakfast, but I called my buddy Zach Horvath, who is awesome, and he came out to have some lunch with me at North by Northwest.  I figured, my day has probably hit it’s lowest point, so I just need to focus my energies on being around people who energize me and will help me salvage some fun out of the rest of the day.  I called my mentor, Sylva, who told me that I probably needed to go find a way to play and laugh that afternoon.  Zach is a great person for that.

I have a belief.  I believe that emotional ups and down of life average one another out around a midpoint.  As bad as your life may get, it’s always going to have an equal (or greater) upswing right around the corner.  If you put your life into a graphing calculator in 8th Grade Algebra class, you’d get a sine wave.  Everyone’s sine wave is different.  Mine very well might have higher highs and lower lows than yours, but they all average out to the same midpoint.

Sin Curves will Hit different peaks and valleys, but they average out around similar midpoints
Sine Curves will hit different peaks and valleys, but they average out around similar midpoints

The morning was bad, but I knew things would inevitably balance out and I’d have an opportunity to do something awesome.  I was just waiting for the upswing in my sine curve.

Then Zach told me what he was up to that afternoon.

“A friend of mine just got a Tesla Roadster, and wanted me to come by and see it.  Do you want to come with me?”

The answer to that question is:

Yes.  I would love to go see the Tesla Roadster.

I love driving fast cars.  The day that I swapped my pickup truck with my friend Seth’s Mercedez E 60 AMG so he could haul things out to his wedding site was one of my all-time favorite afternoons.  Hitting 115 MPH like I was going 55 MPH was incredible.

So Zach and I head over to West Austin after lunch and get up close and personal with the newest Tesla Roadster in town.

You know what I didn’t know about the Tesla Roadster?  It’s blisteringly fast.  Also, since it’s a completely electric motor, there are NO moving parts in the engine that need replacing, or oiling, or any sort of maintenance.

Tesla Roadster Sport Numbers:

299 Horsepower
0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds (press you to the seat, screaming like a girl fast)
125 MPH Top Speed
245 Mile Range
100,000 Mile expected battery life
Single speed, fixed gear (crazy)

We were pumped about the car, and spent a good 30 minutes going over all the specs and the process its owner went through to buy the vehicle.  He was blown away by Tesla’s customer service.  He talked about the dealership, and the company’s marketing strategy, and the direction that zero-emission vehicles are going.  We talked about charging the car up, and how you could easily drive to Houston on a single charge, and then how it would take 16 hours to get a full charge back.  It’s definitely a second (or third) car, and not the primary.

We kept talking about the car, and I really started wondering if he was going to take us for a ride.  I was cool hanging out and talking about it, but I really wanted a ride.  I had resolved myself to not ask.

I really wanted to drive it, too, but I wasn’t going to ask for that either.  I was just happy to be there at this point.

The Tesla’s owner turns to Zach and asks, “So, do you want to drive it?”

Music to my ears.

The question was still in the air when I jumped in, “YES!”  My sine curve just hit the gas, and we were heading back up.  Zach and the owner laughed at me, and I started jumping around like a 7 year old.  I was about to drive a Tesla Roadster.

Zach in the passenger's seat of the Tesla Roadster as it backs out of the driveway in Austin, Texas
Zach in the passenger’s seat of the Tesla as it backs out of the driveway

Zach went first, riding in the passenger’s seat first, and then switching places to drive back to where I sat, waiting patiently…

The car is completely silent.  You can’t hear it turn on, and you can’t hear it drive up.  Powerful cars normally sound like huge animals when you start them.  The Tesla just let’s its performance do all the talking.

I hop into the passengers seat and we pull out onto an open straightway, I’m listening to the owner talk about driving it when he suddenly floors it.  I am not exaggerating one bit when I tell you that my knees were suddenly at my chest, my feet were on top of the dash board, and I was screaming and laughing in my most high pitched voice while we hit 90 MPH.  I kept waiting for him to slow down, but he just kept speeding up.  I was so happy.

We switched places and I eased myself down into the roadster.  It sits like 2 inches off the ground, so you take your time easing into it.  When you hit the gas, there is no delay like you experience with a fuel injected engine.  It just goes.

I pulled out onto the straighway and hit the gas.  The car moves like it’s on rails.  I felt the owner tense up as we accelerated, but I knew my limits.  I hit about 70 before I let my foot off the gas and the active breaking kicked in.  The car slows quickly and I began following normal traffic patterns back to his house.

I think it took an hour for my heart to stop racing.  Tesla is discontinuing the Roadster.  Building it was a product strategy to prove that electric cars can be

Austin in the Tesla Roadster Sport, Grinning from Ear to Ear
That’s me pulling back up in the Tesla, Grinning from Ear to Ear

high performance vehicles.  The next Teslas will be sensible cars starting at about $49k.  The roadster being discontinued means I’ll have to buy a used one in a few years.  It’s my new dream car.

My sine curve averaged itself back out.  Just like I believed it would.  I broke my right hand the next day…who knows where that will lead.

Hope this helps.

Austin W. Gunter