I hate to drive.
Maybe I liked it for a few months back when I was 16 and my learner’s permit meant a newfound sense of independence, but these days I just don’t see the appeal.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not a terrible driver — or at least, I’d like to think I’m not. Sure there has been the odd fender bender and one unfortunate speeding ticket when I was 18 but nothing too traumatic. I understand the rules of the road and am certainly physically capable of driving from A to B. I’m just not very fond of it.
When I am behind the wheel, I am permanently on edge. I get heart palpitations at the first sign of inclement weather, and the combination of speeding cabs, weaving bicyclists and jaywalking pedestrians sends my nerves into overdrive. I hate the overly aggressive road ragers and the lost hours spent staring at break lights in a traffic jam.
I actually prefer taking public transportation, even on its slowest, smelliest and most uncomfortable days. Not because I can’t afford to drive, or because I am an environmental crusader, but because, for me, it’s just so much easier.
Sitting on a bus or train gives me time to myself; time to sleep, to read and to stare inappropriately at attractive strangers. Public transit is empowering — bus drivers don’t care when I’m intoxicated and they let me check my phone for text messages whenever I want.
As a non-driver, I am exempt from all of the monetary costs associated with car ownership. I don’t have to worry about repairs or parking and I admittedly have no concept of how much car insurance costs (but I hear it’s horrendous). And while the occasional fare increase will irk me for a month or two, it is nothing compared to the daily emotional roller coaster that results from the fluctuation of crude oil prices.
I know mass transit isn’t always the fastest or most convenient way to travel, and I’m not immune to the eye-rolling frustrations of yet another late bus or stalled train. But most of the time I can breathe deeply and get over it because I want to believe that the benefits of communal commuting outweigh the negatives.
Riding transit might make me more dependent at times, but it is also blissfully liberating in so many ways. For us anti-automobile folk, freedom is a monthly pass and a good book.