Friday, March 12, 2010

DCMM: Living a One-Car Existence in a Five-Person Family

My family has one car. Well, a minivan really, but still only one vehicle. No, not one vehicle, because my husband has a motorcycle. So he has two vehicles, but I don't because I don't know how to ride a motorcycle. I only have one vehicle. Well, I do know how to ride a motorcycle, but I don't know how to drive one. You get the point.

There are lots of reasons why we only have one car. Economically it makes sense. Environmentally it makes sense. Practically it makes sense. Most of the time we don't need that extra car. It would sit in our driveway almost all day every day. Even when we do need an extra car, usually one of can hustle a ride. The ride hustler is generally the parent in charge of the fewest children at the time.

Every once in a while, however, one of us gets stuck.

Take this week. I had a conference to attend for three days. Because my husband had all three kids, he needed the car more. So the whole family got up early and drove me to the conference where they dropped me off. But then when it was time to pick me up on the first day, my husband was stuck at the house with an installation guy from DirecTV.


Especially since said conference was hell and gone from where I live. Consequently, I had to embark on an hour and forty minute, two-bus voyage home.

At least I didn't have all three kids with me. I've done that. It's not awesome.

But still? Lame.

I used to ride the bus everywhere. I didn't have a car for the five years between high school and grad school. I owned a bus pass and could get anywhere in the San Francisco Bay Area on public transportation. When I was getting ready to move to Los Angeles for graduate school, I started looking for a car. I have vivid memories of standing at bus stops looking wistfully at cars passing by.

I was emotionally transported back into that headspace last week as I stood at a soggy bus stop sadly waiting for my bus. It is dispiriting to know that if I had a car I could be back home in 20 minutes, but knowing I had an hour and a half on a bus ahead of me. Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for the public transportation option. I'm just glad that I don't have to take it all the time.

I wound my way home via the most circuitous route possible. If you ever want a tour of scenic suburban Rockville, take the number 48 bus.

We'll most likely stick with the one-car system for the foreseeable future. It doesn't make any sense to get a new car for the very occasional use we would get from it. But I may just have to learn how to drive a motorcyle. That would make sense.

Stimey painstakingly pecked out much of this post on her iPhone while waiting at the bus stop. You can find her blogging at Stimeyland. She also runs an autism events website for Montgomery County at AutMont and writes a column for the Washington Times Communities called Autism Unexpected.

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