My trusty Ford Focus, Frank, failed me for the first time the other day: he simply refused to start. Turns out his fuel pump has died, which is going to cost me a pretty penny to replace. Such is life, and considering I’ve had Frank for about five years now, driving back and forth to college multiple times in him, and this is the first serious trouble he’s ever given me, I’d say I don’t have much to complain about.
In the meantime, I’ve been making use of alternative means of transportation: namely, buses and feet. I have found riding the bus to work to be surprisingly enjoyable: very low-stress, even relaxing. I just take a seat, pull out my Kindle, and read the Autobiography of Theodore Roosevelt while enjoying the fact that this trip isn’t costing me a single gallon of gas.
Part of what makes any experience enjoyable is the extent to which it reminds you of other experiences you may have had. Thus, for me, something like, say, being with a lot of people at once isn’t very enjoyable in part because I’ve had bad experiences with crowds and lots of people. Riding the bus, on the other hand, is something that reminds me of good experiences: of being in Europe, for instance: the bus in Rome or the subway in Paris. So I find being on the bus has a calming, soothing effect on me because it puts me in mind of good memories.
I also have been walking more: yesterday I walked all the way home from work, a trip of a little less than an hour and a half. Those of you who saw the news will note that this meant that, for the last stage of the journey, I was walking in a storm, during which my trusty umbrella truly earned its keep: my pants and shoes were soaked, but most of my upper body stayed nice and dry (comparatively speaking). Heck, it even warded off hailstones with surprising effectiveness. So now I can add ‘walking in a tornado’ to my list of life experiences (not one I’d particularly like to repeat let me add).
Having to walk has given me a new appreciation for it: why do I have to get in my car to drive just across the street for lunch? Why can’t I just stroll up to the mailbox outside work to drop off letters? What is an hour-and-a-half walk more or less?
On the one hand, Frank breaking down is a major pain: it’s expensive and extends my commutes by at least a half-hour. On the other, I’m actually rather glad it happened, since it forced me to confront the fact that I use him too much: I have a perfectly functional bus system and two perfectly functional feet, I don’t need to be using so much expensive gas on short trips like that.
I’m looking forward to getting Frank back, because I miss the independence of having a car. But I think I’ll continue to ride the bus and walk sometimes, since why spend money on what you can get for free?