Saturday, September 27, 2008

Seventy-three days and not counting

Coworker Steve somehow ended up with two cars at work this Friday, so I helped him by putting my bicycle in the back of his 4 Runner and driving it to his house before bicycling home. This broke my no-driving streak of seventy-three days.

I can't be sure when the last time I went as long without driving. I know my longest streak while owning a functioning car is thirty days, which happened mostly during October of last year. I may have gone seventy-four days or more without driving sometime during my first two years in college. I didn't own a car then, but my sister did and I sometimes borrowed hers[*], so I can't be sure of any streak. And if I didn't have a longer streak during those two years then the only other streak longer than seventy-three days is my 5,479-day streak ending with me turning fifteen and obtaining a learner's permit. Or did I get my permit after my birthday? I can't remember. I do remember Mom driving me home from the DMV after I got my permit: she pulled to the curb and stopped the car upon getting to the safe streets of our subdivision, and she had me drive the remaining way home. It was the first time I drove an automobile -- a 1986 Oldsmobile. I wore an ear-to-ear grin those five minutes as I hugged the curb and maintained erratic Grandma-speeds the entire way. If I had taken my eyes off the road for one second, I could have seen Mom's white-knuckle grip on the door, dash, or anything she could put her hands on. I don't think I've ever driven her once without that reflexive grip of hers showing at least once.

Cars were and continue to be a way of life in the Houston suburbs, and driving was the biggest of the coming-of-age rites for a teenage boy. The idea of an adult not regularly driving a car was a fiction to me then. I don't recommend carlessness to normal people, but I do recommend the car-lite lifestyle. A major benefit to driving less is that driving becomes enjoyable, like how it was when a teenager. There's no daily routine of seconds-saving stresses and worries, red lights are not the Big Evil when you don't deal with them everyday, and being cut-off and honked at somehow doesn't matter.

[*] My sister drove a Ford Taurus during college, which is funny to think about if you know my sister's taste in cars.

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