Woops... the minivan died tonight at the Red Cup. Stuck the key in the ignition and zip... nothing. The little alarm buzzer beeped feebly, but that was all. No lights, no nothing. I hope it's just a dead battery. This would have to happen on Saturday night. I can ride the bike tomorrow, no problem there. But I guess I'll have to wait until Monday to get the car looked at.
When I was in my twenties, car problems were always a big deal. I didn't have a lot of money, so even minor repairs were a burden. I think about that when I see some of the younger Red Cup regulars struggling with old beaters.
And I drove maybe sixty miles a day just on routine business, so being without a car was huge problem.
And there was a certain level of panic that set in when the car was out of commission. A car, after all, equals freedom. Without it, you're a prisoner in your own neighborhood.
Nowadays I probably don't drive sixty miles in two weeks. Everything I need to do is within bicycle distance, and a couple of my friends - guys my age - use a bicycle most or all the time. I'm a prisoner in my own neighborhood by choice.
As I think about it, it's really crazy that we became so dependent on the automobile. It's expensive, immensely complicated, requires constant maintenance, is loud, smells bad, and uses most of the energy it consumes just hauling itself around. When was the last time I hauled something so big I needed a minivan to move it?
Well, just Friday evening, as a matter of fact, when I helped someone get a big bag of beanbag chair stuffing back to her house because her wheels were in the shop.
But by and large, I can get along without it these days, and I'm glad to be able to do so.