Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

I picked up my car from the body shop on Friday afternoon. While I needed the car to get out of town for a wedding, I have to admit that I dreaded going to get it. I have learned to really appreciate life without a car in the last three weeks - especially now that gas prices have crept up to over $3 a gallon again!

The last three weeks without a car have been rather magnificent -- forcing me to do things I ordinarily would not have done. I have walked to work several times, making the two mile trek downtown in the beautiful spring weather. Not only have I gotten great exercise, I have also gotten a closer look at my neighborhood and the city - the new condos being built, the new stores that have recently opened, and the people everywhere.

I have taken the bus more in the last three weeks, even taking it to a meeting in Silver Spring, affording me the opportunity to see the University of Maryland for the first time as the bus drove through campus on my route to Good Shepherd United Methodist Church. I now know where there is another Chick-fil-A nearby!

I hitched a ride with a friend following the meeting last week, allowing me to spend time with a very gifted colleague who always inspires me in ministry. I would have never had the opportunity to eat with this fellow clergywoman had I not asked her for a ride back to the city - something she seemed pleased to provide to me.

I have seen so many beautiful people on the Metro and on a bus in recent weeks. The city is filled with beautiful diversity. I love looking at people, wondering who they are, what they do, why some of them are smiling and others look so sad. I do not see as many people when I am driving by myself.

I have not had to worry about getting any parking tickets near the church or whether or not it was street cleaning day in my neighborhood. My car was away. It was off the street in a place where it could not be ticketed or towed.

And, I have not had to think about when someone might be trying to bust the locks again -- I cannot help but to wonder how long my car will look this good. The new paint job looks so great!

Several people have sent me an email in recent days about a push to get as many people as possible to not buy gas for one entire day. They point out the impact that our not buying gas for one day would have on the oil companies. I cannot help but to wonder, however, the impact that our not driving would have -- on our community, on our environment, and on our economy. While I realize that people living outside of a city with good public transportation need cars, there are plenty of people in the city for whom a car is a choice, not a necessity. Do those of us who live so close to a Metro stop, bus line and Zipcars really need a car of our own?

I am still trying to figure out what to do with my car. One thing is for certain - life seemed a bit less stressful without it during the last three weeks.

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