It sucks to be the third wheel… but to have no wheels at all can be a real pain!
No matter where you live, or what you do, a car can make life easier in some way. No arguments! Really, I have been a both driver and a sidewalk commuter, and while I laugh at people paying their life savings at the gas-pump, I definitely face a lot of barriers as a “car-less wanderer”.
In a busy city like Toronto, to have a car is gift and a curse.
Gas prices, insurance rates, and general inflation make buying and owning cars a real headache despite the obvious advantages like flossing your status and bankroll, making lame attempts to lure women by blasting bass out of your sound system, or being able to grab the most unhealthy food possible on your way home from work without getting out of the car.
I miss my green and rusty 2002 Honda Odyssey every single day and the new trendy designs on TTC Metropasses doesn’t really help in brightening my day.
There’s a million thoughts passing through my head either walking to work, calling an Uber (Uber is a drug fam), taking the bus, or hopping on the train. Perhaps that’s the one good thing about not driving – you get to day dream on your commute without killing anybody!
But anyways, here are Some Thoughts That I Have as a Car-less Wanderer, Missing out on 4 Wheels in the 6ix.
Air conditioning, reclining seats, and the absence of people with shopping carts who smell like a mix of urine, cat litter, and McDonald’s are a few of the wondrous advantages to owning your own vehicle.
Comfort is huge! It gives you the extra juice of energy to go to the gym after a long day at work, or to study at home for an exam despite having had classes all day. You can never put a price on the extra but of energy you have after a long day when you can zip around between work, school, and home in a whip versus a damn bus, bicycle, or by foot.
Something as simple as groceries, taking the kids to a park, buying furniture, or going out for dinner can involve an all-out planning session to orient logistics around bus schedules, Uber promos, car-pools, etc.
Whether we like it or not, the growth of our city has turned the screw face capital into the ultra-bougie screw face capital. The car is as much a necessity as it is a shameful symbol status. In saying this, whether or not I’m cool with being car-less or not, everything from Tinder swipes to job eligibility goes up in the air without a car.
One of the most painful moments in my first-world hypersensitive and overthinking daily life, is the look you share with a driver as they pull up to a red light eyeing you down in your evening fly clothing.
The social-class stigma is real with the average self-conscious millennial. This can be replaced by an overpriced fixed gear bike that you take up and down Bloor and occasionally use the bike paths for, but I digress.
Standing, and waiting for the bus in front of this 4-wheeled king as I pretend to look down at my phone or turn to “look” the other way is a hilarious example of how conditioned a lot of us are now in terms of looking at cars as a form of class and thus, a sign of success. Don’t get me wrong, I applaud every individual who worked hard to get the car of their dreams, or something close. But I also know that society has created a status difference between the drivers and the walkers.
Wanting the Image
Generations of marketing geniuses have brainwashed and pushed society to want and crave a car because not only does it make life easier, but a lot of buyers are convinced that it is a true sign that they’ve made it and they are better than others.
Yup, we all want to roll up on a group of honeys or homies with butterfly doors and the most ignorant music blasting out of sub woofers galore.
Is this bitter insecurity from a car-less wanderer?! Most fuc&*%ng definitely.
But at the end of the day, we all want what we can’t have and I do remember days in my soccer-mom van (turned hot box chalet) where the traffic and road rage often led me to romanticize the days of walking and bussing around the 6ix. How stupid…
We all desire control, and the morning trip to work is something we all wish we could control. Within the four doors of your sedan, you can have a huge mess, a board meeting, and a steamy hook-up zone all in one!
Having to rely on a bus schedule that you can’t speed up or slow down, or being at mercy to the weather if a storm arrives, all make being car-less a daily quest to dodge the forces of nature and compete with mediocre public transit to simply be on time.
Perhaps insanity comes from a constant feeling of having no control like when I need to get to the Eaton Centre from Scarborough via TTC and guess what, it’s Shuttle Bus day…
Dodging a Bullet
In all honesty, there’s moments of zen when I actually have a seat on the bus or the weather is nice enough for a walk that I remind myself that being car-less isn’t always that bad.
Gas is continuing to climb in price, and the temptation to shop or buy more food is a real thing when a few turns at the wheel can take you wherever you want to go. I remember paying stupid money for random repairs, oil changes, tire swaps, etc and yes I know if you learn it yourself it saves you money, but the point is that owning a vehicle isn’t always the most carefree thing!
Rather than killing the earth with my cold-air intake on my Civic hatchback, or ending up on a World Star Hip Hop video for road rage on the 401, I think for now, I can stick to the sidewalks.
As a car-less wanderer, I am always thinking about the grass being greener on the other side. Trudging home in February slush with groceries and shopping in both hands with my headphones dangling on the edge of my ears really pushes me to contemplate a financially STUPID purchase haha!
And as a self-conscious materialistic millennial prick, the sense of control over your own identity, status, ability, and punctuality makes owning a car, a definite goal.
Readers are probably wondering why another TTC article. It’s not about the TTC!!!
It’s really about the fact that our city is growing beyond its infrastructure and gridlock, traffic jams, construction, and foot traffic pose nasty barriers to drivers but cars are still socially craved!
But all in all, maybe, just maybe, for this sun-kissed summer, I’ll survive on my size 11 New Balance’s and a few well-timed hops over the turnstile at Main Street station.