Neither do I, as I said in my last blog Three Tips for a Youthful Body and Mind. My decision to go carless happened by accident. And, no, I don’t mean car accident.
Before going to Romania in 2005 on a year-long Fulbright scholarship, I gave my older son my car. (Actually, it was his to begin with, but that’s another story.) When I returned to the country for the Fall Semester of 2006, I was in the midst of a big project. Thus, I didn’t want to take time away from it in order to do all the research plus test driving, etc., involved in buying a car. I figured I needed one. Because, after all, adults have cars. But I decided to wait until I had some free time.
It was also my first year of being a Faculty in Residence at Duke University. I teach at Duke and was living in faculty apartment in Randolph Dorm on East Campus.
Who Needs a Car?
About six weeks later I finished the project … and wondered: If I haven’t really needed a car in these past six weeks, why would I need one going forward?
It was true. I took the campus bus from East to West where I have my office and classes. Randolph Dorm is across the street from Whole Foods and the shops on 9th Street. So I had easy access to all the shopping I needed. I could walk downtown and meet friends for lunch or dinner. My dentist is off East Campus, my doctors’ appointments tend to be at Duke Hospital on West Campus. And I had no problem finding a hair salon within easy walking distance.
All well and good. But I admit to experiencing inconveniences and minor frustrations at first. How am I going to get X, Y or Z, if it’s not available on 9th Street? How do I get to the exercise studio I really like that’s way out on Guess Road? I started taking taxis. Then along came Zipcar and now there’s Lyft.
The Inconvenience of Car Ownership
I would now find owning a car an inconvenience. For the past twelve years I have not:
- Filled a gas tank (except in the case of Zipcar).
- Had to rotate tires.
- Bought tires.
- Been annoyed when a Check Engine light comes on.
- Had my car serviced.
- Had a state car inspection.
- Paid county car tax.
- Paid car insurance.
- Made a car payment.
- Washed my car.
- Cleaned up the junk accumulating in the passenger seat, back seat and trunk.
Here’s what I have done:
- Rented out my parking space in my condo.
- Walked a whole lot.
- Experienced my world at street level.
Walking through a space is very different than driving through it. In Metaphors and Similes I recommend to writers to get on the street and start walking so they can see their world close up and in a leisurely fashion.
Dr. James Levine, Director of the Mayo Clinic at Arizona State University, says “Sitting is the new smoking.”
This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen