Wheels of my logic go 'round and 'round

I went three months without a car. I dared myself to do it and I did it.

In concept, it was a great idea. We’d save money having only one car payment. Our insurance would shrink. We could shop around and save for the right new car at our leisure. And with gas prices at these rates, it seemed like an economical plan:

AP photo/Jeff Chiu/ stolen from:www.americanprogress.org

 

In concept, I like to walk and to accomplish a lot of simple errands on foot rather than waste gas. In concept, I am a mature, rational adult.

In reality, going without a car for three months had its drawbacks. While I did tone my legs and get a lot of sun, I somehow equated these things with full-out exercise.

In reality, by the time I got my butt back into the driver’s seat, it had actually expanded. Turns out with my 40-something metabolism, one hour of brisk walking a day did nothing to burn the robust intake of food I preceeded and followed each walk with.

In reality, our only car — my husband’s work car and my back-up when needed — was totaled a week after the one-car program was enacted. Thereby voiding the whole deal of paying off Car A and saving for Car B.

In reality, all my bragging about shopping, running errands and meeting friends via walking all summer was no match for all the complaining I did at home.  Just ask the husband, who practically ran to the dealership in September to pick out a second car to shut me the hell up already.

In reality, when you are car-less, you are a pain the ass to everyone who wants to make plans with you. All the logistics of offered rides or asked-for rides, gas money reimbursement, guilt and/or refusal of rides leads to awkwardness. Enough said.

In concept, there are enough alternative methods of getting around without a car.

In reality, not in “The Motor City” which is laid out and designed with car ownership in mind.

In conclusion, absurd as it sounds, I now have a gym membership. I drive to the gym. To lose the weight I gained when I didn’t have a car. I got rid of the car to save money and get in shape. Neither of those things happened.

End of story.

Oops!

Remember how I said we were going to be a one-car family? How I was going to take up the cause of saving the world by walking to the grocery store and possibly saving a few spotted owls along the way? Yeah. Well, then this happened:


We were rear-ended on the highway last night coming home from an out-of-town event. In the grand picture of it all, we are so very lucky. It was the kind of accident that could have taken a very bad turn, but we were spared. Our baby girl is fine. My spine feels like a Dutch pretzel but nothing is broken. Our car sustained a butt-kicking.

I’m left with the last vision of our car, strapped to the back of the departing tow truck: bolts and bits bouncing onto the roadway as two loose flaps of plastic and metal waved farewell in the wind. I couldn’t help but bust out laughing.

WTF? You know? Here we are, with all our crap on the side of the road as we wait for a friend to pick us up and get us home. Didn’t feel so independent at that moment.

My other car is a Matchbox

Today I relinquished this:



And now share a car with the husband. I also have a pair of feet, several sturdy backpacks, and one of these:



This is supposed to be temporary. An exploration of my creative spirit, intestinal fortitude and a way to … ahem … built up some savings.

You see, the Jeep was an impulsive act. A Very Expensive Mistake. It was the one-night stand that became the stalker kind of mistake. Fearful of making that mistake again, of picking a vehicle that was just all wrong for me, that looked sexy in the mood lighting of the show room but in daylight became a freak show, I simply avoided car shopping on a serious level.

I’m hoping in the fall to purchase the perfect car. What will it be? My searches so far have come up fairly empty. But maybe not having a car at all will be the perfect motivator. Maybe when the heels of my feet are peeling and bleeding on the pavement, I’ll hobble on over to a car dealership and do some serious field research.

I need fuel efficiency first. I do a lot of driving. There’s no getting around it. I also need space. With two kids and the itch to travel, we need a roof rack and trunk space. We also need fuel efficiency. Did I mention that yet? Oh, yeah, and it needs to be affordable.

The search for the perfect car came up empty, leading us to today, with me handing over the keys to the dealership and walking away on foot, while the salesman watched a commission vaporize before his eyes.

This is something I’ve never done since I became a licensed driver back in the Ronald Reagan administration. The closest I came to this is when I was grounded from using my parents’ car and had to hand over my set of keys.

Follow me as I figure out how to go carless in the Motor City.

Survey says . . .

Boy, I sure know how to pick ’em.

In this week alone, my city was named “Most Dangerous in America.”

My car made some Top 10 list for “worst vehicles.

“This news does not make me happy.

Where I live is a larger issue. Technically, it’s not my city on the list since I live in an inner-ring suburb directly north of Dangerville U.S.A. But we are a mere one-half mile from Certain Death. We’ve known this all along. We were warned that we were moving “too close to 8 Mile.” Yeah, Eminem’s 8 Mile. I like to think of it as Detroit:Rock City.

But, I’ve been here all my life. I spent the first half of my childhood living near 8 Mile. (The husband half of this relationship doesn’t like to me throw that around too much.) But it’s true. Eight Mile is a long stretch that covers a lot of territory, not all of it lined with prostitutes, wig shops and “Praise the Lord Auto Parts” emporiums. My parents have lived in and near this city their whole lives; same for their parents and so on. We go back a long way — like to its founding more than 300 years ago.So, there’s pride in that.

Danger, or lack thereof, hasn’t kept me here, either. Frankly, we’re not “safe” anywhere. I witnessed and was victim of more crimes when I lived in outer suburbia for nine years than I ever had within the city proper. I was robbed at gunpoint in the Suburbs. I had stuff stolen out of and from my car in the Suburbs. My neighbors were robbed at gunpoint and all their Christmas gifts taken from their trunk at an upscale Suburban mall. I could go on but the point is, don’t think because you live far from 8 Mile you are “safe.

“Our city has jumped on and off the list for years. The only thing that really irks me about it is when I travel. People really think you’re a hard ass or a survivor when you say you are from Detroit. You may as well say you are from Iraq. They think gunfire and dead bodies are part of our daily experience.

Enough said on that.

About the car, well, … yeah, not surprised. You might be asking yourself: Why, mother of two, would you purchase a vehicle with such a lousy track record? Mother of two would answer: Track record? I’ll have to play the dunce card on this one. My lease was up on my Pontiac Vibe, which I loved but couldn’t afford to buy, and I had no time to search. The Jeep deal was about as well-thought-out as a one-night stand. But I’m stuck for now.

Chalk it up as another lesson in my brimming book of “Why Looks Aren’t Everything.” This right next to the full file with color pictures of “My Impulsive Purchases.” Oh, if Salvation Army could talk, what tales it would tell.

Coincidentally, we are both researching new cars and beginning our five-year plan for relocating west of the Mississippi.Really.

****Yeah! Just read that we are No. 5 fattest city in the United States. Guess that makes us pretty easy moving targets, eh?