Above is a piece from The Atlantic on the place of cars in American life and the sheer absurdity of it all. A user posted it on Metafilter and it was off to the races with members kvetching on the evils and glories of the automobile. I have an opinion on this. Surprised?
Right now we are down to one car, the above 2005 Mercury Land Yacht. The Family Truckster has had a few issues and I’m inclined to not fix it until we get some more disposable income around here. So the Truckster sits in the garage, one tire slowly leaking while something unidentifiable leaks onto the garage floor. What an unreliable piece of shit. The Mercury, while a pain in the ass to drive (the angle of the front seat raises hell with my right hip) is far more reliable. Plus the dogs love the bench seating. They’ve pretty much had it with bucket seats. So we’re cruising in the Land Yacht and crossing our fingers that it keeps keeping on (only 53K miles on it so we should be OK).
I am not a gear head but I do appreciate a decent automobile. I’ve spent too much time since we’ve moved back to North Dakota (and too much time on this blog) worrying about various car issues. The thing is (and articles like the one in the Atlantic always miss this) living out here in the middle of nowhere is dependent on having a reliable car or truck. There is almost no public transportation at all and walking or riding bike is not exactly feasible for a variety of things. I live only about four blocks from our downtown and during the spring and summer it’s fine to walk down to get the mail. But carrying any amount other than a couple bags of groceries is impossible.
It’s even worse in suburban America. Yeah, I know, we should all live in places that are high density and everything should be accessible. Well that’s about as likely to happen in this country as Mitch McConnell exhibiting human-like empathy for his fellow man. I spent twenty years in the suburbs of the Twin Cities and very very little was accessible by walking. My wife and I did a fair amount of walking for various errands but believe me for any serious shopping you had to have a car. And that was when the weather was seasonable. Winters in North Dakota and Minnesota are legendary for a reason. A reliable gas-powered vehicle is a goddamn necessity.
It would be nice to not have to deal with the expense, danger, environmental cost, and absurdity of owning or needing a car. But like a manned mission to Mars, it’s not feasible at this time. I hope that at some point humanity finds a new way to get our asses and our stuff from point A to point B. But I’m not going to hold me breath on it happening before I breathe my last.