I pulled into a rest stop on my drive to New York City last week and went right into my typical routine: I bypassed the big parking lot, pumped my gas, then headed for one of the short-term spots outside the quick mart so that I could step inside and use the restroom, perhaps purchase some junk food. I’ve been doing this for 20 years, as I imagine others have, but on this recent southbound journey I was paused in my tracks; the few, rather the only spots available outside the market were marked NO PARKING EXCEPT ELECTRIC VEHICLES, with sleek red signs below that read TESLA SUPERCHARGER.
To be clear, I don’t mean that some of the prime spaces that one might use for a few minutes after they gas up were taken by regular cars, while the only ones remaining were for plug-ins. Oh no, I mean that other than a single spot for disabled persons, it was exclusive Tesla territory. Anybody else who wants to enter the building after they pump is screwed; it’s illegal to drive in the opposite direction toward the big lot, which makes it so that if we have to pee, nonelectric luddites like yours truly have to stay parked at a pump after we finish fueling. Or hold it.
Up until now I’ve avoided jumping on the bandwagon that likes to roll parades over the hopes and dreams of Tesla daddy Elon Musk. But I happen to be reading the Kurt Vonnegut Jr. novel The Sirens of Titan, whose brotagonist, Malachi Constant, is something of a cross between Musk and his occasional pal President Trump, and so this rest stop horror hit a nerve. As long as pols and public figures keep on getting more cartoonishly despicable and greedy, I’m quite sure Vonnegut will only get more relevant. Certainly Constant, the “richest American” and a “notorious rakehell” with “preposterous credentials testifying to his ownership of even more preposterous enterprises, with testimonials that attributed to him virtues and strengths that only three billion dollars could have,” would have hatched such a Tesla truck stop takeover if given the opportunity.
While I impugn and lambaste big polluters as a journo and polemicist, and make a somewhat serious effort to avoid trappings like bottled water and single-use shopping bags that are flagrantly unsustainable, I’m also guilty of hypocrisy when it comes to environmental standards. In any case, I’m not against electric cars, or even Teslas, no matter how garish I find the latter. I just think they ought to have a designated charging station in a place that doesn’t inconvenience thousands of drivers a week. Perhaps near the truckers out back. Like they would even…
In Googling around to write this column, I came across a message board for Tesla drivers that I first thought was some kind of spectacular satirical site. Between the comments, which seemingly came from the most grotesque Silicon Valley caricatures, and the fact that it wasn’t a password-protected walled garden for Musk rats, I truly thought the forum was a clever stunt. But as it turns out, the page is an actual sewer of unconscious bro babble; one fanboy even goes so far as to groan, “Theres [sic] nothing like taking a piss, grabbing a drink/bite to eat, and sharing your ownership experiences for 20 minutes with other Tesla drivers.”
Hold my teslas while you’re at it, dude. I have nowhere else to park them.
CHRIS FARAONE, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.