Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Car fast, day 1

My car fast technically began yesterday, but my preparations began Saturday when I test drove new cars. My truck isn't long for this world (yes, let the weeping begin) and I am on the verge of falling in love with a bright red VW Golf diesel, circa 2005. But now I'm fantasizing about owning a new car instead of thinking about having no car...

(I also fantasize about big Italian dinners when I'm doing a fast from food, and I couldn't resist bacon when I was a vegetarian. Not helpful.)

Back to the Car Fast. To prepare I juiced up my SmartTrip card, downloaded bus schedules, plotted out my week and developed a short set of rules:

1) I can't drive a car (nor a purple truck, for all you legalists).
2) I can't ride in someone else's car unless it in no way makes them alter their route. (No rides all the way home, but I can get closer.)
3) I will break the rules in case of a pastoral emergency.

Yesterday, was my first day. Monday is my rest day and I didn't even leave the house until 3. I normally would have run errands, but no truck, no Target run. I was a bit anxious until I realized I didn't need anything, I just sometimes like to go to Target and buy new lipgloss or a picture frame. I decided to relax (didn't someone recently preach about the Sabbath?) and enjoy the day in my home.

In the evening, I had to venture out because I had a class in Glen Echo, Maryland. Car fast challenge #1.

I caught the bus to downtown Rockville easily, except that it was 6 minutes early which seems like a problem. When the bus is running early, shouldn't it wait? The bus was early but I was earlier. No problem.

In downtown Rockville I returned a library book, window shopped, and meandered to the metro station. I took the metro to Bethesda and walked up the long stairs out of the metro station, right past the bus loading area. I looked around downtown Bethesda, forelorn for a minute until I heard the screeching of breaks below me and found my way down to the underground bus station. I joined the line-up of commuters, hopped on my bus and was to my destination with time to spare.

It was liberating and fun. I felt independent and city-wise. I don't need a Golf. I don't even need a truck! All was going well until the return trip.

I had figured out exactly what time I needed to leave in order to catch the last bus to Rockville (Isn't there a REM song about that? Or is it Elvis?). I thought about giving myself wiggle room and leaving on an earlier bus, but I was already leaving class earlier than I'd wanted. I decided to trust the system.

I stood out under the RideOn sign for about 10 minutes and was starting to fret when, at exactly 8:59 pm, the bus came around the corner. I was relieved and had a little thrill that my experiment in public transportation was going to work. I waved down the bus and stepped out to the curb. The bus slowed down and...as I walked right up to it...sped up again. It didn't see me. I was even wearing a reflective white jacket and it passed right on by.

I banged my fist on the door, the side, the back as it drove away. I ran across the street to catch it...yelling like a madwoman, of course. Damn bus! There I was, alone in the dark with a bruising knuckle and no way to get home on public transportation.

I weighed my options.
#1 - Take a taxi. (I thought I'd get RideOn to pay for it. When I called RideOn this morning to register my complaint, I discovered they don't reimburse for such things.)
#2 - Go back into my class and ask someone there for a ride. A fine option, but no one lives anywhere near me, the class wouldn't be over for an hour, and I don't know anyone that well.
#3 - Phone a friend.

I phoned a faithful friend who picked me up and delivered me home, all the while trying to lift my defeated spirits. I was bummed. My carbon footprint ended up far bigger than if I had just driven myself. I broke my rules on day one.

This morning I considered bagging the whole thing in light of last night's defeat, but I rallied. I thought of biking, but it's cold and it will be late when I leave. So back to the bus.

I was walking to the bus stop when the driver who'd already passed the stop (again, early!) saw me coming, pulled over and waited for me. I got to church in good time. A bit of redemption.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! Very witty/funny, and kind of makes one really think (like many of your posts do). Maybe I'll try a technology fast...only during Holy Week though (baby steps, you know). Best of luck on the rest of your fast.


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