02 August 2008

Going carless.

Last summer, I discussed my dilemma about what I'm going to do when the Achieva finally dies. And wouldn't you know it, here I am really facing the issue.

My transmission is failing. I barely got up in time to go to yoga today and I hopped in the car, started her up and ... it wouldn't move after I put it in gear. Um, well, that's not right. So no yoga. I walked around the lake instead. Quite frankly, I think a five-mile walk (second day in a row, by the way) is a bit of a better workout than yoga, anyway.

So I finally got around to having my car towed and while I was hoping against hope that it wouldn't be something really expensive, somewhere in the back of my mind a little voice was saying, "It's the tranny!" I don't know much about cars, but dammit if I'm not good about guessing what horrible thing is about to befall my transportation.

The Achieva is at the shop right now, having her transmission flushed and replenished with new fluids and a filter and all that. Hopefully it will buy me some time. "Maybe a day, maybe a week. Maybe five years." HA! Five years. I wish. Regardless, I am not at a place where I have money around for a down payment on a new car. Nor can I afford a car payment plus high-as-fuck gas prices. If I could get the tranny replaced somewhere near home, it would be cheaper. If it goes on my dad's fleet bill, I would have time to pay it off. That's the only option that involves me keeping the ol' girl. And quite frankly, I don't think it's the most terrible idea ever, but I am guessing the 'rents won't agree with me.

So really, I am finally at the place where I'm going to be going carless. And it's not going be easy. It wouldn't be a big deal if I never had a car or only had a car for a while. But I've been driving since I was 15. The only time I didn't have a car was my freshman year of college. I got by then, but I had a bike and my life was mostly on campus. That's not so much the case now, but a huge portion of my life is in Minneapolis and in my neighborhood.

I'll probably switch my gym membership from Bally to the YWCA, because it's closer. The 21 bus runs every 10 or 15 minutes, so if I decided to bus instead of walk (hello, winter!) it wouldn't add horrible amounts of time to my schedule. I have no problem going often enough to get my health insurance to knock off almost half the monthly price, which makes the monthly membership identical to my cheap-ass Bally membership.

I'll almost certainly sign up for Hour Car. That will allow me to still head out to the 'burbs to babysit my nephew (which, now that I think about it, won't be something I need to do much longer) or go to his football games or go to family stuff.

Busing to work will be the norm again. I was on the bus heading downtown the other night to go to the Twins game and I decided that when it stopped being disgustingly hot, I would start taking the bus to work again. It's strange, but I kinda miss it. Driving to work is the suck. It's like when I used to work retail -- I hated it a lot of the time, but I'll be damned if I don't still miss it from time to time. Even all these years later.

Breaking all of this to my family won't be fun. They freaked out last year when I started talking about ditching my car and going all public transportation, augmented by Hour Car. And I suppose renting a car if I have to go home for a weekend or something. However, I have to do what is right for me. It's my life, right? Hey, if you want to buy me a car, I won't say no. And I'm sorry I've failed you by not having plenty of money around for when this kind of thing happens. Yeah, I've made some poor financial decisions in my day, but Jesus, I've been unemployed this year and my student loan payments are not cheap. Fucking graduate school.

I don't want to have this discussion with my family. They will make me feel like shit and a failure and all that. Oh what fun! However, this does give me a really good reason to maybe look for a new job ... one closer to home and slightly more public transportation friendly? Though, I think my commute will be pretty close to what it was when I was busing to my old job.

Bah. Today hasn't been the most fun day ever.


Anonymous said...

that completely sucks. at least you live in a city where public transportation exists!

Jess said...

Yeah, it does suck. It's going to be a pretty big adjustment, but I think it's something I kind of need to do.

I've never been a tree hugger or anything, but every day I'm realizing more and more that I need to do more for the environment. And this is certainly a way to do it.

When I was in New York, I didn't think twice about having to walk six blocks or so from the hotel to the subway or the subway to the office. My walk to the bus stop from home or the bus stop to the office is nowhere near six blocks. Why is it such a big deal now that I'm back in Minnesota?

And quite frankly, I think the added walking was part of what helped me lose so much weight. The big chunk of it came off when a bunch of things came together -- one of which was walking like six or eight blocks from the bus stop to the office and back because traffic got so horrible after the bridge collapsed a year ago yesterday.

I'm pretty convinced that driving to work for the last four months is at least part of the reason I'm not losing weight at the same pace or as consistently as I was before.

Also, my car is done and seems to be okay at the moment. Still busing to work on Monday, though.

Emily said...

I feel your pain; in college I walked or biked everywhere and didn't mind, but when I moved to Minneapolis and got a car I drove EVERYWHERE, even places that were blocks away.

I just started biking to work a few weeks ago and I've barely missed the car. I've lost weight too; I think it's not just the biking but eliminating the temptation to drive to Chipotle or Noodles vfor lunch.

Jess said...

I will often drive to the grocery store and feel totally guilty about it, but I do it anyway. Of course, I rationalize it by saying I'm in a hurry, which is totally lame.

Glad to hear about your experience with the bike (and congrats on the weight loss!). One of these days I will get one. I was worried about storing it, but my back neighbors store theirs on the back deck, so I should be okay doing the same.

Michelle said...

I think you're making a very smart decision. Cars are really expensive and driving really isn't any fun with all of the traffic and lame drivers.

Jess said...

Please don't give me too much credit. After all, my hand is being forced here.

But really, if I am going to make a commitment to drive less, it's ridiculous to go the car payment, expensive insurance and expensive gas route.

I did get my car back earlier today and thought for a bit that it was done then and there. It wouldn't move. The mechanic got in though, and then we took a drive to make sure everything was okay. Guess after it sits for a while, I need to let it run while shifting gears to get the fluids going and get the tranny to unstick.

I might end up scrounging up some money to buy a shitty $1,000-$1,500 car. If I don't go the Hour Car route, I think this is the only other option that makes sense.

Jen said...

Oh no, not the Achieva! I feel like she (he?) and I bonded after the road trip to Duluth. Good times.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do. My tranny bit the dust last year but I had no other options but to either get it fixed or buy a new car. No public transportation out in the burbs.

Jess said...

Ah, yes. That was back when I couldn't use the AC because of the radiator. Those were good times!

The bus wasn't bad at all today. It's an easy transfer and all that and neither bus was crowded at all. It does suck having to get up earlier, but I'd rather do that than get home really late.

Muffy Willowbrook said...

Ugh...sorry to hear about the car drama, but I'm glad that it's back in working order - at least for the time being.

I agree with the cheap car route. It's not worth it with gas prices.

Jess said...

Despite my better judgment, I just told the 'rents about it. Seems I can only lie/withhold information about some things.

Dad thinks if I'm going the cheap route, replacing the tranny is a better option than a shit car. Apparently, he thinks whatever I could buy for $1,500 to $2,000 would be far more craptastic than my current craptastic car with a new tranny.

Whatever. I don't want a car payment if I'm not driving every day. Also, now maybe the 'rents can help out and I can spread the pain out a little longer than shutting down my life for two or three months.

(I'm pretty sure they insist on me having a car so I can come home. Also, my mom said the whole, "I just don't see how you could get by without a car." Um, lady? YOU LIVE IN THE COUNTRY. Remember when I had to fucking bike to town if I wanted to go? And I always did it because I wanted to be in town SO BAD? That's my life now, except I don't have a bike, so I walk or take the bus to go have fun.)