Our Carless Weekend
No, there is not a misspelling in the title of this blog; it does mean without a car, not without a care. This blog is about last weekend and the decision we made to go without having use of a car. Understand that it was not intentional or due to some altruistic, ecological motivation on our part. At least, it was not that way initially.
This decision may not seem like much to some but probably is inconceivable to most who will read this blog. Daily, I see people who have come i.e. from other countries riding bicycles to their jobs, taking the bus, riding in cabs and even walking because they do not have cars.
When I visited Amsterdam many years ago, it was quite common to ride a bicycle to work. Although that is changing too, I have seen photos of China where bicycles have been the main source of transportation. It seems that as countries Westernize and become more ‘modern’ all around the globe, they are adopting all of our bad habits, including fast food, polluting, gas guzzling vehicles and other stuff that is both bad for our health and that of the planet upon which we precariously reside.
Anyway, to get back to our carless weekend, our car needed some brake work (I am not mechanical so even though it was explained to me in detail, it went in one ear and out the other). What I did hear, though, was that the car would have to stay in the shop over the weekend because the part was not readily available and would have to be ordered; since it was Friday, it most likely would not even come until Monday. In addition, the last loner car had been lent out. So if we wanted one, we would have to rent a car on our own. No big deal, I thought at first.
So I went about calling my auto insurance company, then going to the special auto rental discount website they recommended and even called the rental car place directly. That place happens to be within walking distance from where we live so it would make the whole process even easier for us.
After all this footwork, the bottom line conclusion was that if we wanted to have a car over the weekend, it would cost us over $150 or at least $50/day not including the cost of gas. My mind immediately went to the thought of not being able to go to all of our favorite local mall stores; initially there was a pang of disappointment but then a sense of relief.
Yes, we would not have to go to crowded malls to fight our way through the parking lot against other equally inpatient shopaholics only to purchase things we really did not need or could wait until we had our car to purchase.
Ah, I thought, now I have a legitimate ‘excuse’ to stay home and relax, ‘play’ with my create projects, and/or ‘work’ on other things that were not as much fun. But primarily, I could just be still.
I began to imagine, even experience with a sense of relief what it would be like to observe as others do, a weekly day of rest, a Sabbath. For a brief moment, I had a glorious feeling.
And in spite of the rain last weekend and the fact that my husband had to bicycle a total of about six miles, in that rain, to complete a commitment he had, we got through the weekend. It was not until Sunday night that I started to have that pang again. We were running low on food and would need our car to go to the supermarket.
By 9:30 Monday morning, before I could really go into car withdrawal, we got a call from the service department of our dealership with the good news. Our car was ready. The labor would cost was less than anticipated, a $25 coupon was available for the work done and the loner car that had shown up outside our window in someone else’s parking spot was not going to be necessary for us to use. What a relief, our car was ready; we could resume our life of driving and buying by going back to our normal routine.
In conclusion, I do appreciate the decision we made to go carless and what we learned from the experience last weekend. I walked, my husband bike rode and we did not miss anything that could not wait until another day. Going carless for the weekend was an almost religious experience. I highly recommend it. It is good for the soul and even good for the earth.
P.S. That loner car that showed up outside our window Saturday morning, was not a gift from Santa Claus, which was my initial thought, but a coincidence. Our neighbors across the hall from us have the same make of car we have. They bring it to the same dealership for service and got there within an hour of when we did on Friday. They saw the same service department agent and got his last loner car (each agent has three to lend). I almost thought I was witnessing a miracle on Saturday morning when I saw the words ‘Courtesy Car’ and the name of our dealership; but the way the whole incident worked out, it really was not far from being miraculous. It was ecological and a blessing, too.
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