Alright listen. I’ve put some thought into this. Comparable to the preparation for a term paper…okay, bad example. Anyway. This will either be surprising or it won’t. I’ve never owned a car until after I graduated college. I’ve driven a car before, don’t be silly. No matter how much America may have changed in the last 50 years, it is still a cultural imperative for suburban males to proudly cruise through town in their parents’ “wheels” or whatever the new slang is. But, as resourceful people may have already surmised, I was, in fact, car-less during my university years. That is, not counting home visits, expeditions to the frontier (Washington), or those times I stole my roommate’s Lexus. So, how does one survive in such a predicament? (It is important to note that this question is directed towards my fellow suburbanites. City folk, as they have come to be known, have been documented using both of their feet for transportation as early as the mid-19th century.)
Clever people may have noticed that I have already alluded to a solution in the previous paragraph. Yes, walking seems tedious after spending a lifetime being chauffeured by family and friends; I know from experience. But if you’re living in the right spot, there will never be a need for a car. Usually, a student spends a year in the dorms. And at said location, anything you could possibly need is within walking distance. Usually. My own dorm lottery landed me on the far side of campus, at least a 20 minute walk from any respectable social activity. If you can’t be bothered to walk for longer than that, bum a ride off of one of your rich friends. If you don’t know anyone with a car, expand your social circle a little. The way tuition has been heading, the only people left at universities are the people with no money or lots of money. So unless they’ve taken to living on a hill in the next town over and begun commuting to school, they shouldn’t be too hard to find.
As I quickly discovered, locations within walking distance of everything merit exceedingly high rent. With this one piece of potentially misleading information in mind, I began my first search for an apartment. To make a long story short, I used buses to get around for a year. I got through the year (one of the worse ones) but I haven’t been on a public bus in America since. I could elaborate how the vehicles are filthy, or how guessing the arrival time is like playing roulette, or how I’ve talked to more than my share of crazy people while trying to catch a nap after a full day of classes and work, but I feel that it would be redundant, so we’ll move on.
It took a year of bus riding to figure it out, but cycling turned out to be the thing for me. Unfortunately, I chose to make this discovery when I moved into an apartment on a hill with a 45 degree incline (no joke). Thanks to hauling groceries up this monster, I was the best shape I had been since high school. For me, riding a bike is the most enjoyable way to travel (though driving a stick shifter comes close). That being said, you cannot be distracted while you’re on a bicycle. I mean, you can get away with talking on your phone while you’re driving because everyone sees it and drives around you. If you’re on a bike doing 40 on a downhill because you’re late for a test, you get crunched by a driver talking on his phone. Pedestrians can be just as dangerous, if not more so. When people cross the street, they’re looking for speeding cars, not cyclists – especially when they’re on their phone. I’ll try to wrap this up since I’m rambling. If you’re going to crash, try to do it in front of a hospital. It worked for me. Oh yeah. Please, for the love of whatever, look around while you’re on the phone.
Alright. Now that I’ve made the world a safer place, it’s off to change the car battery. If I don’t post next week, it’s safe to assume that I blew up myself along with the car.
Photo courtesy of Tyler Blakley.