Saturday, 20 October 2012

Life without a car


I have now been a week without a car.

Regular readers will know that I borrowed a friend’s car last Sunday to get to my preaching gig, and on Monday  I rented a car for a couple of days to get down and back to Cape Coral, and to get to medical appointments.

To be car-less leads to careful planning. 

I found this out on Thursday when I again borrowed a car and in the space of 75 minutes I went to a pharmacy, to a hardware store, to the bank, to the post office, to my barber and to the supermarket (how lucky I am that each of these businesses are within a mile of my home)

The supermarket visit entailed a detailed list of the comestibles and beverages I would need for five days.

Wednesday and Friday were the tests.  It felt odd to be never more than ¾ mile from my home - when I walked Penne.

But the days also helped me understand that sometime my quick car trips to the supermarket or to “Target” are rooted in impulse.

For instance, a few weeks ago I got it into my head that I wanted a veggie Pizza for dinner.  Nothing, it seemed, would shake that whim, so I went off driving to “Sweetbay” - and of course whilst I was there I picked up a few other items which leaped off the shelves into my basket.

I took the ‘bus today.  I needed to go downtown to return two books to the library, and I wanted to be there to take a look at the arts and crafts festival, and to mingle with the crowds (and see some friends) at Sarasota’s Pride Fest.

The ‘bus stop is a ten minute walk from my home – a piece of cake! I got there in good time ‘cause our locals ‘buses are more likely to run early than late.  Todays ‘bus was on time, and 15 minutes and $1.25 after boarding I was downtown.

The place was hopping.  I grinned to myself thinking “if I had driven here I never would have found a parking spot”.

I did what I needed to do, saw some good friends at PrideFest, stopped by the St. Boniface Church Table there, got free orange juice courtesy of “Tropicana” – a major sponsor of the Fest, and journeyed back home by ‘bus.

That was all very fine.

My good pal Ben is lending me his car again tomorrow so that I can get to Church, and then to a birthday brunch for my pal the Revd. Jack Chrisman.

What I am discovering is that I could “get by” here in SRQ without a car.

But it would be inconvenient.

I could of course get one of those shopping carts and wheel it down a mile to my favourite supermarket a couple of times a week.  All very well except for in monsoon seasons (May – Nov).

I could walk to the bank, the post office, the pharmacy etc.

I could use the ‘bus to get to my dentist, general practitioner and dermatologist.

The dentist is on my local route ‘bus #6.

 But I’d have to take two ‘buses to get to my G.P. and my dermatologist -  with darned inconvenient waits between ‘bus A and ‘bus B.

It’s next to impossible to get to my Church by ‘bus – so I'd have to rely on others for rides.

 And my social life, slim as it is, would be utterly impossible without a car.

ALL THIS IS TO SAY that I'll be glad to get my car back next Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.

AND

1. I have a new sense of how hard it is to be poor in urban America, or to live in rural America.  We city-living car owners take so much for granted.

2. I have a new sense of “what is to come” when I am older and no longer able to drive.

P.S.  As I walked Penne tonight I encountered my neighbour Jean. She had noticed the absence of my car so she offered transportation should I need it. Cool!

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