Why You Should Ditch Your Car For A Week
If you live in a commuter city, like I do, spending time in a car is just part of the backdrop for your life. You might even get a few things done in your car, like catch up on the news via the radio, call that relative you’ve been meaning to catch up with, listen to that second language tape you’ve been studying, and indulge in a few much-needed recorded mantras. But it’s easy to take it for granted that we just get to drive everywhere each day. When you realize you’re craving takeout from a place two miles away, you put in the order, and hop in the car. It’s that simple. But, if you do have a car, you could probably benefit from seeing how the other side (the public transit side) lives for a few days. It’s eye-opening. Here are 15 reasons you should go carless for a week.
You learn who your generous friends are
You learn who your truly generous friends are. Why? Because you need to ask people for rides. And you discover that some of your friends, though they state that they love you, won’t drive five minutes out of their way to pick you up, even if that means saving you an hour on the bus. Then you discover some of your friends call you, out of the blue, to say, “I’m in your neighborhood and know you don’t have a car right now. Just seeing if you needed a ride anywhere.”
You learn who your organized friends are
You can’t deal with friends who are perpetually a half hour late when your life relies on bus schedules. If you’re taking a bus that only comes every 20 minutes, and your friend is a half hour late for your 90-minute lunch, you can’t push things back: you need to get on your scheduled bus.
You become an excellent planner
You don’t step out of your house in the morning without having planned your day out in 15 or 30-minute increments. You need to consolidate errands, so you choose the grocery store that’s also near a coffee shop (since you’ll need Wi-Fi at 2pm for that Skype call), and near a pharmacy (since you need cream for this thing on your foot).
You become better at packing
You realize that you treat your car like a mobile suitcase. Now, you need to become an excellent packer. You can only bring what you can carry for the day. You may need a change of clothes, snacks, your laptop, heels, makeup, and who knows what else. You have to be very strategic about what you bring.
You realize whom you actually want to see
When someone invites you out, you ask yourself, “Is this person worth taking the bus for?” Surprisingly, not many people are. When seeing someone was as easy as getting in the car, you weren’t as picky about your social engagements.
You see a different side of life
You’ll ride the bus with people from every walk of life. You’ll see individuals twice your age, coming home from the types of jobs you haven’t had to work since you were a teenager. You’ll see a mom standing protectively over her three little children on the bus. You’ll see fancy individuals in suits, carrying bicycles, who clearly have high-paying jobs but just care about the environment!
You’ll feel silly for not carpooling
You’ll find yourself thinking, “A bus carries all these people and, when I drive, my vehicle just carries…me.” And you’ll feel a little selfish, and very wasteful.
You’ll realize other cars are mean to the bus
You’ll realize just how mean other cars are to the bus. They cut them off. They honk at them. They get mad if they’re stuck behind the bus while it’s putting down the wheelchair ramp. You’ll reconsider how you treat buses when you’re back in your car.
You cringe at how much you spend on gas
You can get around the whole city on a few dollars on the bus. You don’t even have to pay for parking. Meanwhile, when you drive your car, you probably easily spend between $10 and $30 a day on gas, and then there is parking.
You drink too many cocktails at first
The college student comes out in you again and you think, “Well, since I’m not driving, I can have a couple of cocktails before I head out!” So you do. Before running errands at 3pm.
You get a little more exercise
You end up walking anywhere that’s within a mile, which really adds up. You walk to the nearest convenience store for some milk, you walk to the gym, and of course you walk to bus stops. Before you know it, you’re walking a few miles a day.
You never realized it but you’re kind of a snob. You feel a little ashamed getting off the bus in front of the bar to meet your friends. And then you feel silly feeling ashamed about that.
You feel less in control
You have no control over the public transit system. Sometimes, the bus has to stop for a very long time to let someone in a wheelchair on. Sometimes, it has to stop at every single stop for several miles. You’re at once irritated and humbled by the realization that that feeling of control you had over anything—that was all an illusion.
You realize how impatient you are
You also realize that you’re very impatient. You get upset about traffic, when you get to sit in your own personal car. Meanwhile, there are people who use walkers or wheelchairs to get to the bus, every day, and don’t complain.
You’re very grateful to get back in your car
When you do get back in your car, you have a new perspective. Rather than focus on the negative things, like traffic, you focus on the positive things, like getting to blast your music or make phone calls on Bluetooth. Or just getting to control your schedule.