Car-Free Zone

Little by little, one travels far ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

There is a liberation that I have found being in my early 40s. I have experienced many life changes, noticed a change in my lifestyle, find myself demanding higher quality in my relationships, and have had more lightbulb moments then in the last 39 years combined. I’ve also observed an overwhelming desire to slow down and to keep it simple. Amongst all the turmoil of the last few months, if I’m honest the last few years, I have been faced with decisions and choices that have greatly impacted my life. A few weeks ago I made another one of those decisions. And I sold my car. ‘Cricket’ has been transferred to a new owner. It was a sad day.

‘Cricket’ came into my life in September 2016.

‘Thumper’, my old car, was still running strong. He was/is a 2-door, 2006 Toyota Yaris, standard transmission, with nothing power at all. I was still winding down my window, was unaware of what BlueTooth even was and air conditioning? Forget about it. I loved ‘Thumper’. And I loved driving a standard. I learned how to drive a standard when I was 16. My dad was determined for me to be able to drive any vehicle, at any time. He also wanted me to change my own flat tires…that was a miss, but I do know how to drive anything and I have BCAA for the rest of it. I was forced to part ways with ‘Thumper’ after I broke my left foot and I could no longer drive the standard. The clutch was preventing my foot from healing. And it was quite the challenge to drive with a giant aircast (fairly certain that’s a big no-no so let’s just keep that between us). Finally, after I could no longer take it, I drove ‘Thumper’ to the car lot and met my brother to assist me in trading in my car and purchasing a new one.

I wanted the same type of car. And I wanted to keep it simple and basic. The only requirement was that she be an automatic. Enter ‘Cricket’. She’s a silver, 4-door, 2016 Toyota Yaris, automatic transmission, with everything power! What was this new world? Air conditioning? You betcha! ‘Cricket’ treated me well and my foot healed. We had a great relationship. On February 1, I moved downtown. I have never lived in the city, in any city. Everything is right there, a few blocks away. My gym(s) are, at most, a 10 minute walk. Grocery stores, restaurants, pubs, shops, all right outside my front door. My work is even moving, in September, a 15 minute walk away. ‘Cricket’ and I were no longer spending much, if any, time together.

I wish I could say that I wanted to decrease my carbon footprint, that I was thinking of the environment and having one more car off the road. But that would be a falsehood. I was thinking only of myself. I would save money, lots of it. And no longer be so aggravated in traffic. To bridge the gap between now and when my work moves in September, I decided I would take the bus, a car share, my bike or walk, to and from work. I listed ‘Cricket’ for sale and held my breath. I did not want her to go to just any family. And in the end, she absolutely went to the right family. The day she was transferred to her new owner, I walked home. I felt free, I felt happy that she went to a good family, and I was excited about my new found fun-money! This feeling lasted all the way until the first morning that I went to take the bus.

The bus has never been my favorite form of transportation. I prefer planes,trains and automobiles to the bus…even a bike, or walking, anything other than the bus. After using up all my “free bonus minutes” from signing up for two local car share programs, it was time to look at my transportation options. It quickly became apparent that my easiest and cheapest option was to take the bus. It picks me up 3 blocks from my house and deposits me at the front door of my office. It was hard to argue that the bus was a hassle. That first morning I thought I was prepared, turned out I wasn’t. Immediately the unprepared stress started to creep in. Did I have everything? Were my bags too heavy? When I finally left the house, I hurried to the bus stop, in ‘I’m already late’ mode. The bus rolled up and I felt relief, until I went to get on it. Coffee in hand, I realized that I didn’t have my pass at the ready and needed to dig for it in my bag, which is like the pit of bottomless despair. Thankfully I found it and boarded the super crowded bus. Standing and holding onto a rail with my bags and coffee still in hand proved to be a feat of athleticism. The bus is not a smooth ride. I held on for dear life and for fear of falling into the people around me. Within mere moments I was sweating, I felt the beads of sweat form along my hairline and start to roll down the back of my neck. I felt my shift get sticky on my lower back. I was hot, uncomfortable and scared of falling over. How did everyone else look so relaxed? This is bullshit. Where is ‘Cricket’ when I need her?!? The dismount was just as un-graceful. Luckily, another passenger pulled the ripcord and alerted the driver that we wanted to get off what felt like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. The bus was still packed and trying to navigate off with my coffee, my two bags and my ultra sweatiness was quite the sight I’m sure. I decided right then and there to walk home.

Fast forward two weeks. This morning I walked to the bus stop, one bag, no coffee, bus pass in my back pocket, earphones in and music lulling me into my happy spot. I also determined that if I take a bus that departs 15 minutes later, there is hardly anyone on it. I’m still looking forward to being able to walk to work, I prefer having two feet on the ground, but in the interim I have embraced my public transport persona. And I don’t miss turning into the Incredible Hulk in traffic… “Hulk Smash!”

10 thoughts on “Car-Free Zone

  1. I hate public transport. I think with buses, it’s mainly the lack of control. Last time I took the train, I had to disembark way ahead of my destination because of an impending panic attack. I cannot believe how many people just keeping stuffing themselves onto already packed carriages! Well done, though, for sticking with it.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The last time I took a bus, I was in high school. You’re a braver (wo)man than I!

    But the real secret? Always stay angry. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha! I’m fairly certain I have my “leave me alone” face on when I’m on the bus…despite the headphones. Which by the way is playing angry death metal 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. LOL! I have a friend, a gal friend – my wife’s longtime bestie, to be certain – who’s a tall, leggy blond, that takes the grayhound from Oakland to Redding (about 200 miles) several times a year, alone, at night, to visit. I don’t know why she does this and I worry about her every time.

        She says she scowls and listens to music and no one ever messes with her.

        Must be a thing! 🤣

        Liked by 1 person

    2. The last thing that we need is Tom taking the bus and finding new Redding-Bus-Friends to bring to Church. :/
      I rode our bus system often a handful of years back before I purchased my car, and my truck was in various states of decay. It wasn’t a convenient method of travel due to where I lived and where I needed to go coupled with the relative small size of our community and the types of folk who traveled with me. That being said, if we actually developed a timely and efficient method of public transit I too would switch to that in a heartbeat! I’m always looking for any opportunity to save money and be able to stick earbuds in my head and enjoy the commute.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The people watching is an added bonus!! Watch this space for my Transit Tales! 😁

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Spin off blog idea…
        Travel Tales from the concrete jungles of the Great White North.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I won’t rest until my congregation tops Bethel. 😉

        Liked by 2 people

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