We live in a transition era, automotively. Electric cars have now become mainstream, and while they still really only are around 1% of cars on American roads, they command an awful lot of attention, and there’s no denying that the future will be at least largely powered by EVs, though there will certainly still be plenty of combustion cars around for decades to come. At this moment, though, we’re still at the beginning of the transition, and the automotive world is still very much designed with ICE cars in mind. That’s why this particular tweet, seen by over 640,000 people at the time of this writing, is so gloriously stupid and absurd. It was sent by a proud Tesla owner, forced into having to drive his daughter’s combustion-powered Honda Odyssey, and describes the grueling ordeal he suffered through to fill the car up with gas. Yes, this is just a tweet from some guy, but it’s also a fascinating document of a strange mentality among some EV owners, and especially among a very vocal subset of Tesla owners, who seem to live with a single-minded determination to prove that life without a Tesla is an unbearable, nightmarish slog. Let’s just take a look here.
Here’s the tweet in question:
Loaned my Tesla Model Y to my daughter for a road trip, and I get to drive her ICE SUV. Feels like I went back twenty years.
Decided to fill it up using Tier 1 gasoline, so …
— Chris Pierce ???????? (@ChristmasPierce) June 28, 2023
Right from the top, things seem off. The insistence on “Tier 1” gasoline I guess is fine, and just means that the gas (which is all pulled from communal sources across brands) has a particular set of additives and detergents and flavor crystals or whatever that may be beneficial for your car. Fine. Then, the person Googles for the nearest gas station, which, again, isn’t really something that regular drivers normally need to do since gas stations are, you know, absolutely fucking everywhere. The dude could have just gotten in and started to drive to whatever his ultimate destination was, and chances are really good, in most parts of America, that he’d encounter multiple “Tier 1” gas stations along the way.
He then describes some mishaps with an out-of-order pump, which, sure, happens sometimes. And he has some issues with the “negotiate payment” part, which sounds like he’s sitting down in a boardroom with the CEO of Chevron to close a lucrative 14-gallon contract. For the rest of humanity, this just means swiping a credit card in the little thingie.
Whatever. Dude had to go inside to pay, like a filthy animal. And he didn’t even get himself some Combos as a reward for enduring this considerable hardship. Anyway, after his nightmarish four-step process, he concludes with
“I miss my @Tesla ????”
Don’t cry-emoji, buddy. It’ll be okay.
All of this is so performative and absurd, I can’t even. It’s filling up a car with gas. It takes five minutes. You can do it pretty much anywhere. It’s not an event worth a multi-paragraph tweet. The forced, inane difficulties this guy had feels like how those informercials for crap have to set up the concept that somehow carrying two things to your couch can nearly kill a healthy, full-grown adult. You know, this kind of crap:
Plus, the guy tweeting isn’t some kid with zero experience with combustion cars: he has a daughter old enough to drive a Honda Odyssey! He’s been around a while, he has definitely filled up cars’ gas tanks many, many times, and has somehow lived to tell the tale. He sort of addresses this baffling notion in a follow-up tweet:
I’m the stranger moms warn about.
Granted, all the familiarity and routine of filling up was long gone. The smells, the sketchy people hanging around, the grunge and pump damage obscuring the price … I’d forgotten about. I was used to sleeping through the night as my car…
— Chris Pierce ???????? (@ChristmasPierce) June 28, 2023
“Granted, all the familiarity and routine of filling up was long gone. The smells, the sketchy people hanging around, the grunge and pump damage obscuring the price … I’d forgotten about.”
This is all absolutely, patently absurd. The damage obscuring the price? Every gas station has the price in fucking three-foot-high numbers on a massive sign that if you can’t see as you drive in, you probably shouldn’t be driving. Sketchy people hanging around? Okay, that’s possible, but come on, this is not a major issue, and if it is, don’t forget you’re the one holding a super-soaker that delivers a stream of petroleum. The smells? Grow up. And somehow he forgot how to pump gas? Was he hit by lightning?
And what the hell does this mean?
“I’m the stranger moms warn about.”
That’s not generally a good thing to brag about?
Look, I get that charging an EV at home is very convenient. That’s great, I’m happy for you, enjoy that. But it’s not like public EV charging is even remotely as mature or easy as filling a car with gas. Tesla’s Supercharger network is by far the best of them all, but you’re not getting in and out nearly as fast as you would filling a car up with gas even in the best of circumstances, and the greater mass of EV charging stations are, charitably, a shitshow of reliability and accessibility problems.
Plus, gas pumps almost never trap your car when they’re not working right:
hey @ElectrifyAm i just plugged in my @Rivian r1t and 1 minute later i hear a loud boom and now i have a bunch of error codes and i can’t even unplug my car…. took you guys 7 hours to get a guy out and that even wasn’t help. what’s the deal???? now my car is fried too… ???? pic.twitter.com/6I7RsmZG0S
— Anson (@snkrticians) January 29, 2023
I’m not anti-EV by any means. They have so many advantages, and the charging infrastructure, while not there yet, is and will improve. Charging at home, if you have the sort of property that allows it, is great. But the idea that filling an ICE car up with gas is somehow hard? Come on. That’s just absurd, and debases everyone interested in EVs by even making the claim.
This era is interesting; the amount of people who have, for reasons I’m not fully able or qualified to fathom, have tied their identity up in something like a car company such as Tesla is far greater than anything I’ve seen in the automotive world before.
This tweet is such a perfect example of this. Why would someone so exaggerate such a mundane activity as getting gas, and then publicly describe the incident to anyone who will listen? Why is this man of a certain age so invested in you holding the same opinions he does as he tries to convince you an act you perform without thinking about it at all on a roughly weekly basis is somehow a labor on par with a spelunking rescue?
I debated about the newsworthiness of covering all this, but it was pointed out to me by enough people, and the number of views this is getting was enough to make me realize what we’re seeing here is a unique by-product of so many things: the transition to EVs, the influence of brand identities, the wild reach of social media, the fragility and insecurity of our own identities, the state of our refueling and EV charging infrastructure, and likely more.
It’s a deeply stupid tweet, sure, but it’s also a really effective mirror showing a genuinely perplexing subset of automotive culture.
What a goofy time to be alive.