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On owning a vehicle: postpone if possible

Sunday, May 8, 2005 at 12:51PM
Posted by Registered CommenterPolitical Mammal in My personal history

One of the many ways that I asserted my difference with other teenagers was to avoid the rush to learn how to drive a car. Instead, I bicycled, got rides to soccer games, and found other ways to get around. In fact, I did not get a driver’s license until I was twenty-five.

I realized at a young age that I could save a fortune by not owning a vehicle—and therefore not paying for the car itself, for gas, for insurance, for parking, for brakes or alternator replacement. Not owning a car also felt true to the environmentally-conscious anti-materialist in me.

So I took steps so that I would not covet a car. I permitted myself to take a taxi whenever it was convenient, to rent a car if I felt like touring rural Massachusetts; doing so, I calculated, could never add up even to the costs of car insurance. I also chose to live close to my places of employment. My guess is that every dollar I saved for more than a decade (money that I used to bootstrap a business and put a down payment on a house) could be attributed to not owning an automobile. And when I finally bought a vehicle—at thirty-two—it was an inexpensive one—a used (and unfortunately plum-colored) Nissan pickup. Time and life changes have unfortunately pulled me back into the mainstream for a while. I confess that I bought my first new vehicle at age thirty-eight, a silver version of my original truck. I had multiple excuses: an electrician friend was willing to trade the plum-colored one for rewiring my basement; it was time to have airbags; and, I needed an extended cab model to fit a baby seat,

I am growing more comfortable with the purchase as the truck gets banged up a little; I still wish it got better gas mileage. But I am a little disappointed to have relinquished the virtuous feeling I had before car ownership.

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Reader Comments (2)

I predict a resurgence of the bike. It is hands down the more elegant solution to the problem of getting around. You should train your daughter on one as soon as possible!
July 24, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterCraig Lebowitz
I as a long time car owner, environmentalist of sorts, and a lover of all things on wheels, except perhaps airplanes, I would simply like to suggest that the automobile may be the cause of most of america's problems, but is awful fun to drive, and that is enough for me. In addition, I challenge anyone to find me a better sound than a 350 v8 running through double flowmasters!!!
August 9, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterAaron Rosenthal

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