Thursday, June 21, 2007

Pity/Envy

I get those looks all the time.

What is a guy his age doing, riding a bike to work?

Truth is, I've only ever owned one car in my life...and I sold that 15 years ago this month. Since then, I have owned six bikes of varying quality and expense.

And I get those looks.

Poor thing, he can't afford a car.

Actually, I can.

I just choose not to, and because I choose not to, I can afford to do a lot of other things. Like live in the neighborhood of my choice, near the Mississippi River...where it hasn't flooded in a long time. Travel. Regularly eat out at some really sensational restaurants. Maneuver through rush hour traffic nimbly. And when I really need a vehicle, I have many friends who will loan me theirs, all for the price of a home cooked meal.

Oh, and I can afford to rent a car for the weekend. If I so choose.

I choose to bike to work everyday. Yes, it's hot in the summer...and brutally humid. But, I leave for work a little earlier, keep a change of shirts at the office, splash my face (and head - shaving the dome is a blessing sometimes) with some cold water. And if it's raining, I have friends I can call on to hitch a lift with. Or - get this - I can take a taxi. Radical, eh?

I don't have a car note. Or insurance premiums to pay. That's how I can live in the apartment I love, in a part of town that I cherish, near neighbors I really care about.

Looks of pity. Hmm. All over a choice?

Now, it's other looks. These make me a bit more uncomfortable.

It's envy. I'm not spending $3+ a gallon on gas. As I pull up to the office building, deftly hopping off my cost-effective conveyance, I get that look. I don't spend an hour or two a day in road-rage inducing gridlock. At the end of the day, it'll take me 7 (yes, that's seven) minutes to get home...and that's only if I am puttering along.

Envy's a dirty look, no matter who it's coming from.

All this because I ride a bike to work?


Today's post is brought to you in honor of Dump the Pump Day. It didn't get a ton of publicity in New Orleans, partly due to the fact that our public transit system belongs in the Great Oxymoron File with jumbo shrimp, legal brief and Justice Rehnquist - but today is Dump the Pump Day "dedicated to raising awareness that public transportation helps improve the environment and conserve fuel. It also offers the opportunity for people to beat the high price of gasoline and support public transportation as an important travel option that helps reduce our dependence on foreign oil." American Public Transportation Association Website.

6 comment(s):

Jodi

I just have to say I recently write a brief legal brief. Like two pages. Then again, I knew I was going to lose, so why spend a lot of time?

cathouse teri

I adore people who ride bikes! They are so free!

Jenn in Holland

You are already practically a Nederlander!
I want to do a post too on the luxury that it really is to own no car. Even here that makes us quite unique and strange, especially for expats. I know too well that look of pity you describe... as in "oh, those poor student expats can't afford to buy a car here" nonsense. Now that we are gainfully employed you wouldn't believe the amount of queries we get about WHEN we will be buying a car. Actually, yes, you probably would believe it!
But I love my bike and when it's too rainy to use that, then the public transport is smashing. So really, there is no need. And oh, the stressless life of not getting caught in traffic? Whoo-hoo!

Jenn in Holland

Love the new photo up top Ambassador!

cathouse teri

Hey, I just realized, you haven't visited me in awhile!!

Brillig

And, see, on top of all of that, you're probably in better shape than the car-drivers too. That's what would spark the envy from me. Really, I think that this is an excellent idea, even with the envy and pity. If I didn't have to haul four little people with me everywhere I go, I'd definitely dump the car and go this route.

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