by George Heymann

My small dent in the grid

by Jon Pompia

By the reactions, you would have thought I was giving up a lung or my beloved cats.
“My god, what are you going to do now?”
“You did? What are you going to get?”
“What will you do when it rains?”
“How will you ever manage in life?”
This “indispensable” item of which I decided to part with is none other than an automobile, in this case an older model Porsche 944.

Yeah, that’s right. A car.
Not an appendage.
Not my home.
Not my pets.
Not my Les Paul guitar.
Not my career.
Not even my original John Lennon bubblegum trading card.
Just a car.
So auto-fixated — i.e. lazy and, uh, I don’t know, status seeking? — is modern society that deciding to go carless seems to be akin to changing from Fundamental Christianity to hardcore atheism.
Now, I agree that for a single person with no (human) dependents and a relatively simple existence, going carless is relatively painless.
I mean, I have a motorcycle for primary transportation and my legs as a backup, so it’s not like I’m on horse- or donkeyback.
Now, for a soccer mother with a handful of dependents, going carless isn’t an option, obviously. Same with the attention-hungry flaunter who uses a Hummer to make up for inadequacies in other areas, or the silver-haired spleenager hoping his convertible Lexus will attract the next sugar baby.
But for me, it’s heaven, and it was an easy decision.
Having had nicer, but older, vehicles most of my working life, I’ve spent little time driving them and a lot more ordering parts and paying mechanics. It’s what a friend calls the “curse of the working poor” — making just enough to keep a used car up and running but never enough to get the new car of one’s dreams.
Now, after painfully dishing out a grand — that’s $1,000 — in just one month’s time for minor “this” and “thats” on the German exotic — and watching the oil mafia once again blatantly put the screws to the American public while government officials do nothing — I couldn’t wait to unload the four-wheeler and get off the “grid,” so to speak.
(Technically, since I fill up my motorcycle a few times a month, I still fork over about $10 a month to the shysters, so I’m not entirely off the grid).
Interestingly, this isn’t the first time I’ve gone carless. Back in 2008, when the faux oil scare sent prices to levels unheard of, I saw the writing on the corporate boardroom walls and dumped a gas-loving, prone-to-breakdown, 1986 Chevy Camaro.
That time, it was even a more green experience, as I relied solely on a used mountain bike for transportation.
Needless to say, I might have been in the best shape of my life, at least for those six months I was carless and carefree.
But, then, swayed by a promise of a heavy winter on the way, I broke down and bought a used Jeep, which, in turn, taught me the meaning of broke down.
So after this latest round of gas spikes and mechanic’s bills, I wasn’t going to wait around to see what the “oil markets” and aging parts were going to do in the near future.
Hello classified ad, bye bye Porsche, oil speculators, rising insurance, and countless headaches.
The decision seems to have rankled everyone but me. When news of this monumental decision spread, I began to feel like I chopped off my own left hand just for the fun of it.
And believe me, I’ve heard, and continue to hear, every reason why going carless is a bad idea.
“What about when it snows?” (Walk, just like I’ve done countless times during winter days when I didn’t want the Porsche on the road).
“How will you go to the store?” (Feet. Try it, it’s actually kinda fun).
“Didn’t that Porsche get you women?” (Bro, I don’t buy anything solely to impress a woman).
“Blah, blah, blah.”
All invalid justifications for remaining part of the unhealthy — for our bodies and the environment —”motor everywhere, anytime,” we feel the need for a latte, a redbox movie or even a trip to the park.
Case in point. I recently saw someone drive a huge, gas-guzzling Escalade god knows from how far away to Mineral Palace Park…so that she could jog around the paved roads there.
Uh, wouldn’t it have been a bit better to leave the status symbol at home and maybe jog around the block?
Just sayin.’
Now, when people start ranting about escalating gas prices I do feel a bit of sympathy — mainly because I’ll be paying more for Diet Dr Pepper and Sweetheart’s Meow Mix in the long run — but you’d be surprised how much saving $80 a month in car insurance, at least $80 in fuel and oil, and an unpredictable amount on repairs/upkeep can go toward keeping me in a good mood — oil speculators be damned.
And things will only get better. I’m about to invest in a used mountain bike once the weather quits reverting to winter and use that exclusively for transport to work, the gym, the bookstore, restaurants, whatever. And when it’s not pedaling, it will be walking…just like the good, old days of childhood.
Now, I realize that ExxonMobileBPShellChevronStealYourMoneyinc. isn’t going to notice my little dent in their fossil fuel scam, but trust me, I notice.
And so does my wallet and waistline.


Filed under: Media, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses

  1. Gabrielle Ramacey says:

    Brilliant 🙂

  2. Aimee says:

    You got great points there, that’s why I always love checking out your blog.

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