I used to love to drive; perhaps we all do when we are young. There’s a feeling of empowerment that comes from having your own wheels–a sense that you are free to control your life by controlling the place where you experience life. Over the last few years, that sense of freedom has turned to dread, and I now actively avoid driving (to the occasional annoyance of my wife).
It’s car week: In this week’s posts, I’ll talk a bit about why I now longer enjoy driving, what I and others have learned about car ownership, and how you might go about giving up a car. This is not an anti-car rant (I actually believe the invention of the automobile has been a huge blessing to mankind) but rather a look at frustrations I have, and that you might share.
It was only this year that I realized that my insistence on walking or biking to places that Mrs. Peterson thought were worthy of a car trip was not about health, clearing my head, “acting local,” or even just being stubborn. These trips were about my dislike of drivng, and I’ve uncovered three reasons for my feelings.
1. Cars Are Ridiculously Fragile
When I close the doors on our family car, the sound is a solid thud. The car tells me that it is strong, made of steel…invincible. But when I approach it from the front left side, I see a dent in the fender from a wind-blown shopping cart. When I approach from the rear, I see the deep scratches on the bumper from the garage door. When I open the passenger door (Mrs. Peterson does most of the driving) I see the dents and chips of careless door openings.
The car gives the impression that it is indestructible, but the truth is a small rock will ruin the front window and a scratch on a bumper (which is–in theory–designed to be hit) will cost hundreds of dollars to repair. I have spent more just on replacing side-view mirrors than I have on the purchase and maintenance of my bicycle.
2. I Resent The Car
Four years ago, we bought our first new car. We rationalized that since it came with a 100,000 mile warranty, buying new was a good idea. It felt grown up to have something so new and adult…at least for a few months. Now every time I have to walk around it to get to my bike, I resent it’s presence. I envy the fact that the garage is twice the size of the office in which I am writing this post. I am angry at the car for having lost so much value, and by extension, I question my own judgement for having made such a purchase.
3. The Car Is Demanding
The car wants to have its oil changed. It wants to have its tires rotated. It wants to be washed, waxed, fed a high octane dinner, and read a bedtime story. If it’s demands aren’t met, it will threaten to break down, stranding wife an children in the worst circumstances you can imagine. Think that cheerleader you dated in high school was high maintenance? She’s got nothing on the car.
Intellectually, I know that in our present circumstances we are blessed to have a car. Having a family vehicle allows us to take advantage of opportunities that we might otherwise miss. Emotionally, however, this thing is an albatross around my neck.
Question: How has your relationship with cars changed over the years? Use the comments to tell us.