Monday, November 9, 2015

Road Rage

I hate driving.

In Chicago, I didn't have to drive. I could take the El or the bus, or I could walk to my destination. Many of the places we needed, like the bank, the grocery store, the dry cleaner, coffee shops, and restaurants, were within walking distance.

In this small town I've moved to, I hardly ever see anyone walking around, except for the students walking around the campus of the school where I teach. It's necessary to own a car here, which is why I will spend the next four or five years making car payments. I wanted to buy a cheaper, used car, but my parents insisted that I buy a new one. Since they were loaning me the money for a down payment, and since I got tired of arguing with them, I did. My mother demanded that I get the color and make that she wanted, even though technically it is my car.

One bonus is that since this is a small town, I can usually get through two weeks of driving on one tank of gas. I must admit that it is nice to only have to make one trip to the grocery store, rather than two or three trips like in Chicago, where I could only buy as much as I could carry in my reusable bags or small shopping cart.

I'm also saving up for a summer road trip to some place I haven't been to before, even though my parents say that they want to come along to "chaperone" (did I mention I'm thirty-four years old?). But there is NO way they're coming with me. I'm looking forward to a trip where it's just me, my car, and the open road in front of me.

But in this town, I often get stuck behind drivers who apparently drive by the following mottos: "I'm going to drive this ol' pickup truck as slowly as possible so that everyone can admire my fine, giant Confederate flag" or "If I cut off as many people as possible, I WIN!" or "I'm sure no one will mind if I delay traffic so that I can stop and spit out my window."

In my apartment complex, all the tenants are assigned parking spaces, though the assignments are completely disregarded by the majority of my neighbors, who apparently park by the following mottos: "Some people color outside of the lines. I park outside of the lines," and "Who cares if this space isn't mine? First come, first served, sucker!" It's easy for my loser neighbors to steal my spot, since most of them don't seem to work for a living and are home more often than I am.

I never let them get away with it, though. I've told them repeatedly to get their cars out of my parking space. I resist the urge to key the words "I HATE YOU" into the fancy cars that their parents bought for them.

Public transportation in Chicago is not cheap, but it's still a lot cheaper than owning a car. I have to make monthly car payments, as well as pay for gas, car maintenance, insurance, and cleaning. Due to all of those expenses, I haven't had a haircut in more than three months; my shoes have holes in them, and I'm down to one pair of jeans and two pairs of dress pants.

When I walked around Chicago, I burned more calories in one day than I do in a week's worth of walking around Small Town. When I was walking or riding the bus or train, I could usually take the time to observe the people around me, enjoy the music I was listening to on my iPod, and appreciate other sights, like the view of the Chicago River from one of the downtown bridges, the street performers, and the high-rise buildings that reflected the sunlight. When I'm driving, I'm usually focused on getting from Point A to Point B without getting into an accident.

I think the biggest reason I hate driving is because it reinforces the fact that my life is here now (at least for the next year or two), and that I might never live in Chicago again. I know this move was necessary, especially because I need this job. But sometimes, when I'm telling my loser neighbors for the eighth time to get their car out of my space or I'm trying not to flip off the driver who just cut me off, I wish that I was on a crowded El full of chattering tourists, rowdy Cubs fans, and random people shrieking about politics/religion/the upcoming alien invasion.

What about you? How do you feel about driving or commuting in general? Have you ever taken a road trip?


  1. I don't drive. I actually have extreme fear and anxiety about being behind the wheel. But the funny thing is...I've always dreamed about going on a roadtrip.

    1. Hi Chrys,
      I still get nervous when I drive, especially because before I moved here, I only drove two or three times a year, when I visited my parents in their town. You could still go on a road trip, even if you don't drive; that way, it'd be easier to enjoy the ride if someone else is driving.

  2. I hate driving - but not due to anxiety or fear. Like you, I'd rather live somewhere with good public transportation - somewhere where a car is more of a nuisance than a necessity. I, too, live in the South, but in a major city, which means lots of traffic. Fortunately, my commute to work is only 10 minutes. But I've had my fair share of terrible commutes. While my life is currently here for the foreseeable future, I hope to rectify this someday. I belong in the Pacific Northwest.

    Having said that, road trips are fun. My husband and I love doing crazy road trips around the US. This past summer, we did a two week trip through the west - we went to both Mexico and Canada and saw everything in between - the Rockies, the Grand Canyon, the Pacific. I highly recommend travel of any kind but road trips are the best way to see the US

    1. Hi nomdeplume,
      I haven't been to the Pacific Northwest, but I'd like to go someday; I've heard it's beautiful up there. Your road trip sounds like it was a lot of fun! I agree that road trips are the best way to see the country, especially because you can make a lot of stops and explore them along the way, unlike on an airplane. I'd like to see the Grand Canyon in particular, and I'd like to try Mexican food in the country where it originated; I bet it's delicious.

  3. I know how you feel. I was a city kid who moved to the suburbs. When I was young, I walked a lot. But my parents drove everywhere. When I finally got a car for college, I wound up driving more and more. Since then, I've been back and forth from the city to the suburbs. I'm in a walkable suburb now. I try to walk as much as possible when I'm in town. Unfortunately, my daily commute is far away and looong.
    This place might never feel like home to you. Or maybe it will grow on you. I find that the more places I've lived, the more each place isn't perfect. I pull my favorite things from each location, and try to go back to experience them again.

    1. Hi Theresa,
      I wish this town was more walkable; there are hardly any sidewalks. But at least my daily commute isn't as long as it was in Chicago.
      You're right, though; I don't think that this place will ever feel like home, though I have gotten used to living here. For example, there are a few places in town that I like, which helps. But I just don't feel like I belong here; it's similar to how I felt in the town I was raised in. I think I just feel more comfortable in cities.

  4. Oh dear, I really hope you get your road trip without your parents - although, it's kind of funny from the outside that they think you need them with you.

    I can't drive - never learnt. And I love having to walk and take the bus - it's a great way to eavesdrop and get great ideas for stories!

    1. Hi Annalisa,
      If my parents insist on going on a road trip, they'll have to take it without me. They don't fully understand or accept that I am an adult who does not need nor want them to control all of my decisions. I started living my life on my terms (not theirs) years ago.
      Eavesdropping was fun; you're right that it can be a good way to get ideas for stories. I used to write down funny or weird things that I heard on the bus or train, which is why I carried my journal with me on my commute.