Why I Rarely Drive My Car

An interesting thing happened when I got off the bus on my way home to-night. I occasionally see one or both of my neighbor's kids on my evening route; they're teenagers and not yet old enough to drive as far as I know. It struck me as odd at first, but on second thought I suppose it's only natural that this evening, that upon our disembarking at our shared stop, my neighbor's son asked "Hey, how come you take the bus... when you have a car?" It's been a long, long time since I was that age.

I actually do still drive regularly, but normally only on weekends when I'm either hauling stuff (e.g. lots of groceries) or going out of town for anywhere from a half-day to a weekend, etc.

Anyway, being asked got me thinking - not for the first time about it, but taking a bit of an inventory:

1) Better for The Body

I try to wake early enough to fit in a morning workout most days during the week, but can't always, and I've learned that getting a good night's sleep is heavily tied to my being on my game. Also, working out first thing in the morning is the only way I really can work out. When I'm fully conscious, I question the rationality of the act too much, like "Why would any sane person do this?!?" ...So if I miss my morning workout, that's it. Opportunity gone forever. There's no making it up.

There are bus and rail stops all over this town, but getting to them from any given place sometimes can involve a little bit of walking nonetheless, not so much distances as much as up and down hills. If I miss my morning workout, that's the only exercise I'll probably get that day.

2) Better for The Mind

Sitting in traffic sucks. Looking for parking sucks. Each is more tolerable when one endures them with some company, but that doesn't mean they aren't each fundamentally annoying and stressful. I did it for over a decade. I'd like to think I'm done with it and that I've more than paid my dues there.

3) Better for The Planet and Natural Connectedness

Between the rail lines and the buses and the cable cars, one can get around on zero-emissions vehicles partially if not fully. My car's a hybrid. That's something, but between the hills and the freeway it's not like when I drive it I'm not using its gas engine most of the time. It's not like a hybrid gas-electric car is clean. It can just be just less dirty compared to other options (again, it depends on variables like driving habits among others).

As for the elements, some people hate fog and wind in their face. Many people gripe about rain and getting stuck in it without an umbrella sends them running. Short of risking catching a cold, I love these things. I love smelling the ocean in the morning, and how feeling the change of seasons helps remind one of one's place. It's not like humanity owns the Earth. We're guests, and if we ultimately fuck up our time on it it would largely be to our own detriment; there are still potential scenarios wherein Earth would fundamentally get on without us.

4) Better for Productivity

On the rail, I can read. On the bus I can't read without feeling like I might honk, but I can do other things like projects and tasks management, or taking memos or perhaps even working on blog posts like this one. If/as I'm not underground I can stream the morning radio and really listen fully to and absorb the content, or do other various other quick, simple things online (ref. my previous post).

In short, I can multi-task (or do what people think of as multi-tasking; technically just altering between tasks relatively quickly), or I can do single tasks, but either way it's a better use of my time, attention span and overall engagement than having to worry about being the primary operator of whatever moving vehicle I might be on if/as I happen to be on one... Frankly, I'm not even all that skilled at driving and carrying on a conversation at the same time. I'm good at executing when I can keep focused, clear, and have my space. I like that my brain works that way, too.

5) Better for Social Life

Taking public transportation, one is more in touch with one's community. One needn't talk to anyone to feel that. I don't normally talk to anyone during my commutes, and only sometimes do happen to make direct eye contact with anybody. In fact, between my headphones, my sunglasses and the hooded jackets I sometimes wear I'm capable of looking pretty unapproachable when I want to. That has its uses. Even on those rare occasions though, the simple fact is that when one isn't rolling along in a box of metal and plastic with nobody else in it and surrounded by others doing the same stupid thing, one can more easily see others as the people they are and be seen as a person back.

You've heard of the scourge of Road Rage, but have you ever heard of people succumbing to Rail Rage or having Trolley Tantrums? Going Bus Batshit, maybe? No, up until reading this you hadn't. Because I just now made all those terms up. Not that incidents on public transport don't ever happen, obviously (you get the point).

There are other dimensions to the social aspects, too. In cities, there's nightlife. Grabbing a Happy Hour once or twice a week with friends and colleagues isn't uncommon at all, and because it's just part of being of legal drinking age in the city it's not like people plan stuff like that ahead by much if at all. It's easier to partake in the nightlife when one doesn't have the practical baggage of a motor vehicle. If one ends the night a bit buzzed or actually rather drunk, one can still make one's way home afterward without the mode of transportation being a danger to self or others (and there are always cabs if/as one's desired public lines are running infrequently or not at all for the night).

6) Better for Work Life

Some of what I get paid to do requires that I conduct myself as on-call relatively; as close to it as I'm able. I need to be able to get around within the city, but rarely have need to leave it. As mentioned before it's just easier, also sometimes faster, to do without a car if/as one just learns how it's done.

7) Better for Family Fife

The more work one can get done when one isn't home, the less one needs deal with when one is which affords more time for family. The more one has a social life outside of home life, the more one has some variety and balance in life instead of it being comparatively more Work/Family dualistic. The less stress one has outside the home, the less likely one is going to arrive home at the end of any given day with emotional baggage that needs to be unloaded on someone... It's nice when one can come home and honestly mean it upon responding to the question of how one's day was with "Fine."

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Two list posts in a row... Ah, well. Whatevah.

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