I wiped away a tear as I remembered my excellent fellow motorists honking at me for doing nothing wrong in particular.
My heart missed a beat as I remembered the countless happy times approaching the gas pumps to fill up weekly, and noticing that the price had gone up again, or stayed high for no apparent reason except to fill the snow shovels that the oil executives and owners must use to shovel all the cash around.* Hey those tax-sheltered offshore investment vehicles don't finance themselves. 'Merica!
And so many things missing that once I enjoyed when I commuted by car rather than riding 3,000 miles a year to work on my bike. The joys of mandatory insurance! Monthly payments! The thrill of taking the expensive machine to a repair shop and wondering what amazing things they were going to find wrong with it this time, and what ruinously expensive parts and labor would be required to return it to working order! The yearly emissions tests! Oil changes! And the two times in a row that the certified dealer mechanics failed to tighten the oil plug after the oil change, resulting in a spill on my driveway and me having to crawl underneath, tighten it myself, and clean up their mess!
Going out to the car parked in the street to find that someone had smashed the window to take thirty-seven cents in change, and the excellent work the police did to locate and punish them, or lack thereof! Then wondering, for weeks afterwards, if the brazen thieves would return to take the whole vehicle, since obviously there were no negative ramifications of breaking in and theft.
License and registration! Weekly washing! Fluids, tires, belts, batteries, filters, AC service, and wipers!
|Being cutoff by vehicles which by their very form and size embody "strong powerful fertile virile desirable male," and being in fear for the car in which I rode as well as the lives of those within it|
Or the puzzle of parking, how I miss it: circling to find a spot, fellow motorists slamming their doors into your paint out of their blind bottled-up rage in the supermarket lot, or coming out after a long work day to find that a disgruntled employee keyed your car by mistake.
While I can't say I enjoyed the moral challenge of joining a herd responsible for so many deaths around the world every year, I can say that I sometimes exercised my mind trying to justify it to myself as I did it. I have places to go, appointments I have to make, fast. Isn't that worth it? The danger, I mean, the statistical inevitability of the deaths of thousands as a result of what I'm doing? I don't know, something about evading individual responsibility with collective blame seems questionable to me, but it must be OK if so many millions take part in the gamble and for the most part make it through, right? Everyone does it, and I have to fit in, right? If I rode a bicycle or something I would stand out, wouldn't I? Make waves? Question the norm, and demonstrate nonacceptance of moral numbness by my very actions and being? Suggest to everyone that driving as little as possible and taking alternative forms of transportation has many benefits, won't I be seen as a troublemaker?
With nostalgia I recall getting cutoff in the passing lane by a single driver making for the HOV lane at rush hour. So many swerves and near-misses I don't experience any more. The cat-and-mouse game of looking for police measuring my slightly high speed prepared to pounce on me to issue a ticket.
Most of all, though, it's the stress of the twenty-five minutes of driving in traffic each way each day that I miss the most. Sometimes trying to conduct conference calls while driving, late for the first in-office meeting and stuck in traffic, unable to understand half the callers who are also in their phones, in traffic, and don't all have very good equipment or connections or quiet cars or effective rush hour conference call etiquette.
That's all gone now, though. Sometimes, on blistering hot summer afternoon bicycle commutes in Phoenix when the monsoon rains return, the skies open and soak me me with cooling water, when I feel like all the actual and metaphorical grease and exhaust of automobiles washes off and out of me, along with the dust of the day and the residues of life's inevitable and ceaseless compromises, baptizing me with a cascade of nature's purity and remaking me into a new man riding almost naked into the night, I think: god I miss commuting in a car.
|The type of shit we would have to put up with if more people rode their bicycles|
*note: slightly against the tone of this post and the blog in general, but highly appropriate and authentically felt: oil and gas companies and producers who feel they have working Joes and Janes trapped in a corner because they have to drive their cars to work and therefore have to pay you whatever you want to charge for oil in order to drive your profits through the stratosphere while crushing the economy and enabling ruinous fracking at too-high a price both instantly and long-term: KISS MY TONED UP BIKE COMMUTING ASS.