Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Car Free In Tennessee: One Year

Yep. One full year of walking, busing and scooting. My kids are still hating it but, usually, at the least, I don't mind and frequently, I enjoy not owning a car.

My favorite teacher in high school was Mr. Linnemann. He taught English. People either 'got' him and loved him or they didn't and thought he was weird. It was like being in a small and very elite club to get him and appreciate him and contribute to his toe-jam collection. Besides the facts that he never married, always wore an awful green leisure suit, had a fairly long grey beard, carried a "purse" (actually a camera bad, but you know how teenagers can be) and literally barked at people when they were disrespectful toward him, the main reason for his being a town "character" was due to him not owning a car. Mr. Linnemann rode an old bike or walked everywhere. He always said that one does not own a car, one is owned by a car and would cite examples of how much one has to work in order to continue paying for the "privilege" of car-ownership. Of course, he said this year-after-year to young people who had just been initiated into one of the only consistent rites-of-passage available to teens in our culture-that of getting our driver's licenses-so I don't think many of us paid much attention to him at the time, but now his wisdom (and humor) come back to me.

A wonderful story about Mr. Linnemann: One of his pet peeves (he had many) was drivers pulling up over the cross-walks at intersections. One day, rather than walking around a car that's driver had done so, Mr. Linnemann opened the rear door of the car, climbed in and through the car and exited on the other side, leaving both doors standing open. My children were thrilled to hear that story and we always dare one another to enact that assertion of walker's rights when downtown and confronted by an SUV driven by an oblivious and selfish autocentric (a pun I'm sure Mr. Linnemann would have enjoyed).

Anyway, I've gone a year without a car. I've learned to navigate the Nashville MTA system and to write letters to create change in various aspects to benefit riders. I've walked a bajillion miles in every kind of weather and gotten to know my neighborhood and my city better. I've met lots of kind people whom I wouldn't have otherwise done. I've saved barrels of money and fossil fuels and emissions. I've bought a really cool scooter which is the best educational tool I could have come up with for encouraging people to think about gas mileage while they're getting around town. I've improved my life while "sacrificing" to make the world a better place. I really do not want to go back to car-ownership any time soon.

Hey! Why don't you join me?!

1 comment:

EffedUp Chick said...

Hey, that's awesome! I don't think ill be giving up my car, but i have started taking the bus to work :)
many props to you.