In which a dyed-in-the-wool car gal muses on an unprecedented run of bad luck and her hopes for getting on the road again.
Next month will mark one year that I’ve been without a car. To some people, this may not seem like news as car ownership has been steadily declining over the past few years. Others may see my see my car-less status as being eco-chic. What could be greener than eschewing a car in favor of alt. transit, right?
Nothing can be further from the truth. I am not willingly without a car. I’m not exaggerating when I say the past year has been brutal, both emotionally and financially. It started with an unexpected job loss in January 2015 (and the financial hardship that went with it) and the loss of my beloved Volvo 740 just two months later.
Suck it, first quarter of 2015. 2016, not much better. You’re on notice. Shape up.
My car was not only my sidekick, it was my ticket to social and economic mobility. Job opportunities in my community are scarce, so I used my car to work outside of my locale. I used my car to drive to tutoring and pet-sitting gigs. Multiple income streams and all that.
Discussing things like this isn’t easy, especially in a country that worships bootstrap rhetoric and where falling on hard times is seen as more of a character defect and not as a run of really crappy luck.
Mass Transit Desert
I finally landed a “day job” earlier this month to supplement my freelancing. I’m also now dependent on mass transit to get me to and from work, unsullied and on time. In theory.
I waited dutifully by the neighborhood bus stop on my first day of work. No bus. A quick check of my phone showed I was running late. I looked down the street and saw my friend Tom’s car in the driveway. He opened the door to find a frantic-looking me standing there “HiTomI’mlateformyfirstdayofworkscrewthosebussescanyougivemealiftthankyou!”
I’m damn lucky the new job is right here in town. It would take two hours and two buses each way to work in the next town north of here, just 15 miles away. No wonder ridership on local buses in my area has declined so much.
And so it has been since I started my new gig. It’s hard to not pine for my car owning days. Even the worst day with my old car was better than the current dumpster fire known as mass transit in my county.
Trust me when I say it’s nothing like it is for the merry band of commuters portrayed on the transit agency’s marketing materials. They look so…happy. So on time for work.
They also most likely live in mass transit hubs such as Portland, San Francisco, NY, or Chicago.
I miss having a car. I’m a car gal down to my DNA. I’ve been skimming used car ads in search of a new sidekick. I’m hoping this year will bring not only new adventures, but a car in which to have those adventures and to earn more money.
Dear gods, I’m even looking at used…hybrids.
Something as simple as errands currently require a level of planning reserved for weddings and military missions. Forget about doctor’s appointments, socializing and hobbies.
I am hoping that I can emerge from last year’s run of bad luck (and I thought the recession sucked) and somehow fill my empty carport with a four-wheeled sidekick. Fuel is cheap. My insurance rates are fantastic due to a clean driving record and eons with the same insurance agency.
Here’s to better days ahead. For all of us.