Inauguration Of Life Without A Car
I was going to drive down to the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama, to participate in our pro-Constitution demonstration at noon tomorrow, on the corner of 9th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, right on the inaugural parade route. I was going to drive down to Maryland, then bike down to Georgetown from there, lock up my bicycle and walk the remaining distance to the demonstration.
I planned to take our family car, but then we got into a car accident in late December. We rolled over three times and the car was totaled. We got a check from the auto insurance company, but we’ve been reluctant to buy a new car, uncertain about whether we really wanted to be car owners, after the trauma of the wreck.
So, we waited, and we borrowed an old car from friends for a few weeks, while we made up our minds. That car is to be returned to our friends tonight, as they need it starting tomorrow, after their winter break. We never made our way to a car dealership in the meantime.
Still, I had made a reservation to rent a car to drive down to Maryland this afternoon, starting the trek on the way to Pennsylvania Avenue. I never made it farther than 20 miles from home. The rental car company couldn’t take my card, because there was a hold placed on my money by my bank. I’ve been traveling on business, you see, and the bank, looking at travel as inherently suspicious, concluded that someone must be stealing money from my account. Ordinarily, a simple telephone call to the bank would have cleared up the problem, but today is an official bank holiday, and the VISA international customer service number said that they couldn’t deal with the issue themselves.
No card, no car. So, all the plans I made to serve as one of the marshals for our inaugural demonstration fell apart. Jim will be there tomorrow as Obama’s limousine passes by, but I won’t.
Instead, I’ll be working from home, along with the other Irregular Times contributors who are unable to make it to Washington D.C. I’ll also be taking advantage of the day of national transition to make a change myself…
… I’ll be making tomorrow the inauguration day of my own car-free life.
I’ve had it with depending on cars to get me far away fast. I’m sick of the risk and the petroleum powered pace of living with my foot on the gas.
I don’t live in a city, so there will be no taxi service for me, though there is a bus that can take me in to the nearest city. Perhaps I’ll rent a car every now and then, and perhaps some time in the future, I’ll buy a car again. For now, though, I don’t want to own a car anymore. I want to become reacquainted with the rhythm of life I knew when I was younger, when I went where I could go under my own power.
From my village to Washington D.C. is just 328 miles. Going 65 miles per day on a bicycle instead of 65 miles per hour in a car, I could get to our nation’s capital city in a five day trip. Walking just a little over 10 miles per day, I could get to Pennsylvania Avenue in a month. That seems like a long time, when you’re driving. Anticipating a kind of mental law of relativity, I wonder whether I’ll find such periods of time to be shorter if I spend less time moving so quickly.
Besides that, in our electronic age, a great deal can come to our homes rather than requiring us to travel to it. For those things that I really need, I’ll venture out. Perhaps I’ll discover more about what I really need.
I’m proud of Jim for making it down to Washington D.C. in his hybrid car. As for myself, I’ll have to learn to create what political demonstrations I can from where I already sit.