I recently had another vehicle breakdown. It was my truck’s third mechanical snafu in four weeks. I was so angry; I decided to abandon the vehicle in favour of public transport, my bike, and foot power. You might say I was completely done with that stupid truck for a while. ‘A while’ lasted for about a week. I just left the busted down truck right where it died which was about five blocks from my house. Birds could crap on it, spiders could live in it, and dust could settle on it or bury it completely. I just didn’t care. I’d had enough of vehicular dependence. I was ready to try an alternative to my unreliable, fossil fuel guzzling, pollution contraption. I’m a typical North American who’s very reliant on his vehicle. I would go so far as to say I feel stranded without it but the frustration had taken over. I think I was trying to prove to my little truck I really didn’t need it so if it wanted to continue to have a home, it needed to ‘truck the f ck up’, a vehicle version of ‘man the f ck up’. Just get the job done! Take me from point A to point B without any drama. Breaking down is not an option.
There was actually a silver lining to my little hissy fit because I reconnected with the community in which I live. I’d wake up earlier, I’d take a nice 20 minute walk to the skytrain where I’d catch a bus, transfer once and then get dropped off right in front of my workplace. It was very easy and very pleasant. On days I was feeling energetic, I’d ride my bike for 70 minutes to work and 55 minutes home from work. At the end of those biking days I’d be feeling quite tired but also very good about getting exercise. Whether I bused, walked or rode my bike, I discovered the journey was a nice change from my usual routine. I became more aware of where I lived and who was living there with me. By slowing down and getting beyond the cab of my truck I really did reconnect with the community, the environment and all the important stuff we miss travelling at 80 km/hr. You really do miss lots of detail whizzing along at breakneck speeds.
My week without the use of a vehicle taught me a few things that I think deserve some acknowledgement: 1) Alternative and more environmentally friendly means of transport can be quite pleasant; if you haven’t tried getting out of your vehicle lately, give it a go because you just might like saving money, getting exercise or relaxing on your way to work. 2) Be patient and kind out there in the world; you’ll meet angels and a-holes and everything in between. Patience and kindness seems to work well for everyone. 3) Quit throwing your garbage out your car window; In case you didn’t know, Canada has a well structured system for dealing with garbage of all types. I shouldn’t have seen so much crap by the side of the road. It’s clearly a symptom of a population that has lost touch with the environment beyond the cocoon of their vehicle.