Q. Where would you like to be?
A. In a place of greater certainty.
Q. About what are you uncertain?
A. I still don’t know if I should stay here in Idaho or move closer to my job 12 miles down the road in Washington.
Q. Is it that hard to consistently get to a place only 12 miles away?
A. Let’s put it this way. It’s so hard, that it becomes very frustrating when I am expressing my reservations, and people reply with ideas about what I “should” be reserved about instead.
Q. Why would they tell you what you “should” be reserved about?
A. Frankly, it’s because they all have cars, and they don’t empathize with the difficulties one has when one does not.
Q. Do you think it’s a class issue?
A. No. It’s just that people identify most easily with situations that are akin to their present-day experience.
Q. Do you need for these people to identify with your situations?
A. No, no really.
Q. Do you need their empathy?
A. I’ll survive without it.
Q. Then what’s the problem?
A. The problem is that I’ve got a job I love in a city that I cannot consistently get to. I can ride my bicycle, weather permitting. How often is weather permitting? Lately, less than half the time. Then I’m forced to bum a ride off of someone, unless I want to spend $30 on a round trip bus ticket.
Q. So why not get a car?
A. That’s what the other singing teacher asked me. “How come you don’t drive?” she said. And what was I supposed to say?
Q. Well why don’t you drive?
A. Because I don’t have a car!
Q. You mean, you can drive?
A. Last I checked, I could.
Q. Then why not buy a car?
A. I can’t afford a car.
Q. Did you tell that to the other singing teacher?
A. No–I was too embarrassed to admit it. Also, it might have seemed crass.
Q. Don’t cars cost a lot of money? Upkeep and all that? Aren’t you merely one of many people who choose not to drive?
A. All that is true, yes. But at some point one has to take a risk. You know–make an investment. Decide that if one has a car, one’s options will be so greatly increased, one will probably start making even more money than one is now, and then one can afford the car. Not to mention, one will be able to see Seattle before one dies. And Portland. And maybe even cities further away. How often have I been outside of the immediate neighborhood in the past six years? Not very often.
Q. Are you jealous of people who have cars?
Q. Are you sure?
Q. I sense an incomplete response.
A. Jealousy is not the word. I’m frustrated with the statements that people make when they own automobiles and I don’t. They underestimate the extent to which my transportation issues have reduced the scope of my being.
Q. What do you mean?
A. They don’t see transportation as being the main obstacle, because it isn’t their main obstacle. So I feel disbelieved. I sense they think I’m making a big deal over something fairly minor.
Q. Well, you are making a big deal out of it, aren’t you?
A. Right now I am, sure. But that’s because it’s on my mind.
Q. If it’s on your mind talking to me, don’t you think it would be on your mind talking to them? Don’t you think you might be talking too much about it –with them?
A. You have a point. Why should I make my problem their problem?
Q. Exactly. They don’t care how you get to work, as long as you get there.
A. I’m really having a hard time getting there. That’s why I’m looking for an apartment closer to work.
Q. Any luck?
A. Maybe. I was rigorously honest in my application. I had tell them I had filed for bankruptcy at one point. I had to tell them I haven’t always gotten my complete deposit back. And like I said, I have no credit rating that anyone can access. Haven’t used a credit card for almost twenty years now.
They do seem to like me though. I guess I can just tell them, I prefer a simple life. No car, no credit card, job close to home, home close to job. And running trails and bike trails abounding!
Just think–no more “junk miles.” No more having to walk and bike huge distances just for transportation.
I’ll actually get into shape. I won’t be fat anymore. I’ll settle down, no more stress from moving to another town, another State–and I’ll be closer to Spokane–and Seattle-and Vancouver. I can keep moving further and further North, so in the event that POTUS 45 should become POTUS 47, I will have make the Great Getaway.
And then — I can expatriate. This will no longer be the America to whose flag I once pledged sincere allegiance. By that time, I will have written three books, two new musicals, and—
Q. And isn’t all that a lot better than stressing over why you don’t have a car?
A. Indeed it is. But there’s just one thing . . .
Q. What’s that?
A. I am the only person I know, of anyone with whom I associate in real life who does not have a car. One of the Professors I hang out with even has a Tesla. And don’t you think the thought has crossed my mind that–
Q. That what?
A. With the money he spent buying that Tesla, he could have bought two cars half as dazzling–and given one of them to me.
Q. And if he had done so?
A. I would be beholden to him, for the rest of my days.
Q. We wouldn’t want that, would we?
A. No we wouldn’t.
Q. What do you conclude?
A. I conclude I should nail that apartment in Washington State–or one like it–and continue to live a life free of debt, free of credit, and free of automotive anxieties–in another town.
Q. What will you bring to this new town?
A. I will bring–myself. Just as I am today! Unaltered, except geographically.
Q. Have we solved your problem?
Q. What remains?
A. I gotta land that pad, man!
Q. When will you know?
The Questioner is silent.
2 thoughts on “Tuesday Tuneup 117”
It puzzles me that people spend money on Teslas or other expensive cars. How are there not way better ways to spend all that money?
I think that, at least to some extent, there’s an urban/rural divide when it comes to thoughts on non-car ownership. i live in Vancouver, and there’s nothing unusual about people not owning cars here.
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I have some thoughts about the motives of those who buy expensive cars. This comes from my experience working for the super-rich at one time in my life.
Once someone reaches a certain level of affluence, such purchases appear to be drops in their buckets. When I lived with that guy who was a multi-millionaire, he not only owned a Jaguar and a Cadillac, but also gave lots of money to philanthropic organizations (and received tax write-offs accordingly.). So any guilt he had over buying the expensive car was diminished by his knowledge that he also spent his money on “good things.”
At the same time, from a position of abject poverty or (worse yet) homelessness, it does appear to be an inequity.
You have a good point on the urban/rural divide. In San Francisco, the vast majority used MUNI and BART to get around (even those who owned cars), and many people didn’t fuss with cars on account of a very sophisticated urban transit system.
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