Automobiles bracket my day as a father. In the morning, I walk my son to middle school. It’s not a difficult distance to walk, though the sidewalks are covered with the filthy chunks of ice and snow that have been blasted off the streets so that people riding in cars can have a smooth, fast ride.
Now, in the afternoon, I have walked back to my son’s school, to accompany him back home by foot as we talk about his day. As I stand outside the entrance to the school, waiting for him to emerge from his afterschool activity, I see other parents arrive for the same purpose, but I never get to talk with them. They pull up in the parking lot in their cars, and never get out. They sit there, removing, with their engines idling, putting out great clouds of mist and smoke.
In my village, almost none of the students live more than two miles from the school, an easily walkable distance for a middle school child who is used to getting a little exercise… and the children who leave in the first wave certainly get exercise. They’re the middle school basketball team, and they run to their family cars now that their practice is done, so that their parents can give them a comfy ride all the way home.