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Carless- Day Twenty Three -Skidoo

Inner-city car rental agencies are the opposite of their airport counterparts. The Grand Poobah status every frequent flier carries holds no sway here. Everyone must stand in the same long line while form after form gets painstakingly filled out, printed, reviewed, fixed, re-reviewed, then signed; but only after a guided tour around the car twice to note any dents, wrinkles, or scratches. And even then, I had to remind the agent that she might want to leave the keys with us instead of carrying them back inside the clip joint.

It would have been faster and considerably less expensive to ride the Metro out to the airport to pick up weekend wheels. Live and learn.

We could not have managed without a car today. After two weeks of backpack shopping, the larder was lean. Some stuff needs to be transported in an ice chest when the weather turns this insidious, and our Metro line is closed for track work, busses running on anemic weekend schedules, and, as Amy says, “I don’t like not having a car.”

Half an hour later I was hrumphing across town, detouring around a street fair, hoping to make it to the Italian grocery before the deli counter closed; time conscious and feeling behind. Stunned by the stupidity of other drivers: why would anyone feel compelled to pass on a lane and a half-wide residential street? Getting lost then found again.

The rush in rush hour comes from unrealized potential. The car’s capable of zooming along at seventy, but speed limits, speed cameras, narrow streets, stop lights, busses, and traffic prevent getting anywhere close to that hypothetical, leaving a rushed feeling that won’t leave until I park the damned thing. I’ve lost my tranquility, and paying top dollar for the privilege.

On this twenty third day of carlessness, we get lost; 23 skidoo! Back into the pace and structure of a city Saturday, making our own itinerary on the fly. We drive by a few possible places to move to before sliding back into a favorite routine. One bicyclist who passed us in traffic wore a tee shirt with the moral of the story: “You own a car, not the road.” We were just renting the road.

©2012 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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