I Could Go Faster, But Why Bother?

Wisdom is realizing you can take your time with the journey

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My son posing with my current Tesla, the one I don’t drive fast any more - by author

I used to be a maniac behind the wheel. When I was 24 I snagged 13 speeding tickets in a single year and managed to lose my drivers licenses in both Ontario and then in New York State where I was going to grad school. It didn’t matter where I was going, I wanted to get there right now and not a millisecond later.

If someone cut me off, I would zoom in front of them and jam on my brakes, risking an accident, but showing the offender how bad their driving was. Yes, by demonstrating even worse driving. I see the irony now.

Over the years I’ve matured. I had a girlfriend in the passenger seat once when I was cut off by an even worse driver than me, who then ran a red light. My girlfriend watched me get angry and start revving my engine, and calmed me down by saying, “Ignore that jerk. Let him have his accident somewhere else.”

She was right. That kind of aggressive driving was going to result in a bad outcome, and I didn’t have to be there when it happened. I smiled as I mentally pictured him spinning out at the next curve and exploding in a fireball. Then I moved off slowly when my light turned green.

Nowadays I like listening to audiobooks and podcasts when I drive. I get engrossed in the stories, and if anything, I want to prolong my drive, not shorten it. It’s like the Jennifer Aniston Emirates ad, where the plane is about to land and she asks the flight attendant, “Can we just fly around for a little bit longer?”

But the number one thing I’ve done to stop being such an aggressive driver is… getting a Tesla. Now, that wasn’t true at the start. When I first got a Tesla (my family is now on its 7th) I would regularly stomp the gas off a light to demonstrate to my passengers or to the car behind me what a technical marvel it was. As one reviewer put it, “It’s like getting rear-ended by the Millenium Falcon.”

Then a few years ago I bought a McLaren 720S. Now that car was fast. But you know what was faster? From 0–60, my Tesla Model S.

My Volcano Orange McLaren 720s, beautiful but not missed - by author

The McLaren of course looked spectacular, cornered like it was on rails, and I may or may not have taken it up to 180 mph on an on ramp to the 407 highway — before getting scared and taking it back below 90 mph, the speed at which the Ontario highway patrol will confiscate your car if they catch you.

I did it once. The car and the highway could handle it. No speeding ticket. No harm done.

But $400,000 later, it bugged the hell out of me that the Tesla was actually faster in every real-world scenario.

I never took the McLaren onto a race track, and the only thrills I got driving it were when 12 year old boys would stare and yell, “Hey Mister, nice car!” That’s not as much of an ego pump as you might think.

The car was completely impractical for a family man in Toronto. I had to garage it half the year and as a two-seater with no cargo space, couldn’t use it to take the kids to hockey or baseball, which is 50% of my driving. Maybe five times a year my wife and I went to dinner in the McLaren and the only person who was thrilled was the restaurant valet.

Because the cars were in short supply, when the dealer called me a couple of years later and offered to buy it back for what I’d paid for it, I sold it. Moving fast and having a flashy vehicle didn’t gain me a single thing in my life journey.

I don’t drive like a maniac any more. It took me a long time to realize that the speed of the journey is one of the least interesting parts of getting anywhere. What are we all racing towards? Death?

When I was in my 20s I was in a hurry to graduate, in a hurry to get my first job, in a hurry to get promoted. Why? I wish now that I’d just enjoyed those years more.

These days, I drive about 70% of the time on autopilot, either full self-driving, or the mode where it just stays in a lane following the car in front of me. I like that mode because the in-car camera doesn’t freak out every time I pick up my cellphone to uh, look at an urgent message from my wife. I haven’t had a speeding ticket in a decade.

Getting in my car now is about spending time with my passengers, learning via audiobooks and podcasts, and dancing to Def Leppard like nobody’s watching. And that’s as it should be with life.

Be social. Learn. Enjoy the music. There really isn’t anything else.

As an epilogue, earlier this year I decided to buy a Lucid Air Dream Touring Edition, thinking I might be able to upgrade my driving experience. The Lucid was indeed more luxurious than my Tesla, but the driving experience fell short in so many other ways that I sold the Lucid at a big loss only three months later.

Bottom line, I love my Tesla and I’m pretty happy with my life. I’m not looking to accelerate off into the distance any more. Maybe I’ve evolved a little bit as a human.

We’ll find out if you cut me off.

  1. My article on why I sold my Lucid Air.

  2. Jennifer Aniston Emirates ad.

Thanks for reading!

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