Friday, September 05, 2014

Small world

An acquaintance of mine, a woman I went to high school with back (WAY back) in the day, does not drive.  I asked her why once, thinking maybe it was due to a medical condition, but she said no, she had actually gotten her driver's license once upon a time.  But then she went off to college and didn't need a car on campus, and then she moved back home and got an apartment within walking distance of her job, and she couldn't really afford a car on her salary, so she just ... didn't drive.  Never quite got around to it.

She is able to walk to work and to some grocery stores and store-stores and her gym, but public transportation is spotty at best around here, and so if she wants to go more than a mile or two, she either has to take a cab or rely on friends. 


I don't know.  I go where I want, when I want.  If I feel like driving up to Ithaca for an afternoon, I hop in the car and go.  To the restaurant across town, to the county park two towns over, to the State Fair ... I go.  I just ... I cannot imagine how small my world would be if I didn't drive.  I mean, I don't particularly enjoy driving, per se,  but I sure as sh*t like to go places.  Lots of places.  All the time.  And the idea of having to rely on someone else's schedule to go anyplace is, frankly, frightening to me.

Just last night after work, I went to the library, and then I went to the pizza joint to pick up a pizza, and then I went home, to my house out in the semi-sticks, right where I like to live.  None of which I'd be able to (easily) do if I didn't drive.  And that's not even anything really fun; it's just everyday basics.  This weekend I'm doing an adoption event on Saturday which will include shlepping all the tables and crates, and then I'm sure I'll get some hiking in on Sunday,  probably up at the state forest, and I couldn't do either of those things if I didn't drive.  (Unless a friend happened to be available to cart me around.)

And I mean, sure, things are different than they used to be; now the internet and nine billion cable channels can bring the world to you (more of the world than anyone needs to see, sometimes), and it's not like she's just sitting in her apartment staring at the walls or something (as far as I know).  But still. I wanna go.

I dunno.  What do you think?  Could you get by without driving?  Would you want to?  Would you be happy?


~~Silk said...

I think it depends completely on what you want, what it takes to make you happy. Sounds like she neither needs nor wants much.

Was she ever married? Many of my mother's generation never drove. If they ever needed to go anywhere, the husbands took them. If the husband chose not to take them, then obviously, by definition, they didn't need to go.

Mama D said...

Not a chance. I might theoretically be able to get by without driving (although I live in the sticks, so that is doubtful), but I'd hate every minute of it! I'd be stir crazy stuck at home and perpetually frustrated if I had to depend on someone else's convenience for everything. So few places are walkable or have good public transportation, after all.

spiffi said...

I lived without a car when I was in college, and learned to use the bus system. It was...sufficient, but my world shrunk down to "where the bus routes go". In my last year of college, my mom gave me her old car - and suddenly I had SO MUCH more freedom.

A few years later, I lived in a town without a car, for about 6-7 months, and though the transit system was good, I felt confined and stuck all the time.

Where I live now, it would take me 45-60 minutes to take the bus to work - and that doesn't include 15 minutes walking to the correct bus stop from my house, and a 20 minute walk from the end point bus stop to my office - and it's a 10 minute drive.

I LIKE driving, and I can't do without my car - in fact, I just traded in my 12 year old car for a brand new one, and I'm ECSTATIC at starting a new decade with my new vehicle!

rockygrace said...

~~Silk, she never married, but she was in a long-term relationship. He was an alcoholic, and I can't help feeling that it must have been a nightmare to be stuck in that without some way to just go when things got rough.

My mom didn't learn to drive until she was in her late thirties. My dad would drive her to the grocery store, hair appointments, etc. The story goes, she had her eye on a painting from Sears for the living room. Dad kept saying they couldn't afford it (five kids at the time), and then one day, he pulled up into the driveway in a brand new car. She was so furious about not getting the painting when Dad bought himself a car, she said, "If HE drives, *I* drive!," and she took driving lessons along with my oldest sister (who was a teen at the time) so she could drive that car.

Mama D, yeah, it's be hard to cache-hunt without a car. ("Cache-hunt?" gah. Sorry, I can't think of the right term right now.)

and spiffi, congrats about the new car! Hang something cool from the rear-view mirror!

Domestic Kate said...

I've always thought it would be great to be car-free. But that little fantasy of mine depends on living somewhere where I could walk to most places easily and rely on public transportation. I'm happy with sharing one car with my husband.

I have a friend (late 20s) who just recently learned to drive. She too could previously get by with public transportation and college friends. Then she got married and lived in a walkable city. She had an anxiety about driving, and at some point, she was tired of letting it limit her.

Anonymous said...

I live within two blocks of work, in an urban environment with a convenient grocery/pharmacy and I have a bus stop right in front of my house. Public transport options are good here and I get free access to bus service as a benefit of my job. All that being said, I cannot imagine NOT driving.
- Bridgett

Anonymous said...

I live within two blocks of work, in an urban environment with a convenient grocery/pharmacy and I have a bus stop right in front of my house. Public transport options are good here and I get free access to bus service as a benefit of my job. All that being said, I cannot imagine NOT driving.
- Bridgett

rockygrace said...

Kate and Bridgett, it's so funny, I just happened to be reading a book tonight ("Wild", by Cheryl Strayed), and this passage really struck me:

"His life, it was clear, was an ordered and considered thing. It seemed both boring and astounding to me. I didn't know what mine seemed like to him."


Mama D said...

Cache hunt is a perfectly acceptable term, and yes..I'd REALLY be nuts if I could only find caches on bus routes! :)