Monday, November 12, 2007

Carfree, Carefree

Well, after hemming and hawing about it for, oh, about a year, I have done the deed and rid myself of my infernal machine, a.k.a., my car.

It was as easy as a call to Volunteers of America, who came and hauled it off to an auction in NH, where it will likely go for parts.

Generally, philosophically, it is really ridiculous for anyone to keep a car that they don't use regularly (i.e., every day) in the city. As I have written about here - on more than one occasion - urban car ownership is one major pain in the arse if you don't have a parking place.

It's all trolling for a place, having to move your car every two weeks for the street sweepers, or with two days notice if someone's mover, repairman, or a utility decides they want the spot you're in. It's shoveling out the parking place you're in, knowing that you'll lose it once you move your car (and knowing that you'll have to shovel out a space to get back into). It's rambunctious parallel parkers breaking your taillights. It's seagulls strafing your car with crap. (I guess this could happen even if you don't park in the city.)

And that's just the parking related nonsense....

There's the rats in  your engine, the vandalism, the in-town insurance costs.

So, I've been itching to get rid of my 1998 VW Beetle for quite a while.

Three events precipitated my decision.

One, I was hit by a van while making a perfectly legal left hand turn that the van driver didn't think was legal. (This is another whole blog story.)

Three thousand dollars damage on a car worth about four thousand dollars.  (But still, miraculously, drivable.) As the adjustor told me, 'If I were you, I'd just take the money and drive it as is.'

Well, that would be if I wanted to keep driving it - as is, or not.

I don't.

Precipitating factor number two occured a few days after the accident.

In an entirely unrelated event, the passenger side window fell in. (Second time this happened. First time was when I was in the funeral procession for the father of a friend.)

The dealership told me that it would cost $400 to $500 to repair.


I'm not the savviest of economic decision-makers, but $500 worth of repair on a car worth $1000 that I am going to junk in a few weeks, anyway.

No thanks.

I made a heavy duty plastic, duct  tape repair, and waited for the Beacon Hill Civic Association, who monitor the look and feel of the neighborhood, to lodge a complaint about my eyesore.

And then I broke my arm.

So now I can't even drive the damn thing.

Volunteers of America, take my car, please.

They did.

A few days later, I still have a gut reaction when I see an empty parking place on River Street and automatically think 'Hey, that's a better space, I should move my car' from wherever I've left it.

But mostly I'm delighted.

I don't care if NStar or Verizon or Gentle Giants or anyone else wants to post a "no parking" sign.

I don't care if we get three feet of snow.

I don't care if they close down the Storrow Drive underpass, making it nearly impossible to get in and out of the neighborhood.

Well, actually, I do care a little for my car-ridden neighbors. Just a little bit. Mostly, I won't think about it one way or the other.

I'm asking myself the big questions now:

Will I forget how to drive a standard shift? Will I lose my superlative parallel parking skills? Will I ever drive again??????

Oh, of course I will.

Because while I may loathe car ownership, I really enjoy driving.

(I'll admit, I may not 100% loathe car ownership. I got a tiny bit sniffily wistful when the guy loaded my baby onto the flatbed towtruck. I confess, I patted it on the back one last time.)

The minute my arm is good to go, I'm signing up for ZipCar, which has a fleet of cars scattered around the city which you can use to run errands. (Can't wait to get behind the wheel of one of those adorable Mini-Coopers.)


To see other rants on cars and parking, read: I believe in miracles. This post contains links to several other auto-related screeds (under the heading Car Talk). 

1 comment:

John Whiteside said...

My best year in Boston was the last one, when I ditched my car. I hated to see it go - it was a fairly new Civic couple and I really liked it - but I had ditched the job in the burbs & was going to grad school fulltime, and lived a 15 minute walk from school. A car payment just didn't make sense. It was NICE. Snow? Ha! Parking? Ha! Insurance? Ha!

I have periodic bouts of thinking I should take public transit more here in Houston, because it's really a lot better than people, realize, but having a dog makes that less practical, I've learned!