Saturday, September 16, 2006

Baby you can drive my car...

I don't have a car. I can't drive. It is unlikely that I will ever have a car. I don't want one.



This is not to say I didn't once attempt to learn to drive. When I was 17 I had a go. Well more precisely I had a lot of lessons and failed my test. I hated driving, it was stressful. But I think my distaste was just my inner conscience telling me I'm not the type of girl who should be behind the wheel.

A few years on and with a greater environmental consciousness I remain unlicensed because firstly; I think there are too many cars on the roads, and secondly; I like the environment better with less cars. I don't want to be a hypocrit.

When I tell people I don't want to drive or own a car I'm generally met with a short bout of silence then one of three reactions:

1. Pity: "Oh my your poor thing, how can you possibly participate in modern life, let me offer you a lift." Quietly they are assuming there is something wrong with me: I'm either too poor to have a car, I have some kind of mental condition that stops me from driving, or shock horror, I've been banned for drink driving - best not to ask.

2. Fear: "Watch out for that one, she's a lentil chomping freak, bathes in recycled dishwater and is ready to chain herself to the local petrol station in protest of all fume emitting vehicles." The fearful folk react as if I've just announced I'm a local Taliban rep, not a non-driver.

3. Guilt: "Really, wow, that's so good of you. You know I keep meaning to give up my car, but little Jimmy has football practice on Tuesdays and it's a bit of a bus ride away, and I just don't know how I'd do the supermarket shop without it, it's just not practical you see." Addiction.

I don't ask for any of these reactions, not driving is just a personal choice I have made. I have no desire to force my opinions on others and I don't get a self-riotous glow from saying I don't own a car. I'm not churlish, if someone is going my way I'll accept a lift, and if at some point in my life I need to develop the skill to drive I will; but I still would rather not own a car. I like the environment with less fumes, I think people should drive less, but that's their choice and the government's responsibility to address.
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Recently I was told, "don't you think it's a bit selfish of you not to drive?"

I'm still trying to work that one out.

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