As those who know me know, car ownership has of late become my bete noir. First, my beloved old Corolla gave up the ghost. Then I shopped forever trying to replace it cheaply. Then, when I finally pulled the trigger on an '01 Ford Focus, it proved to be a lemon, except not in the sense of being covered by Connecticut's Lemon Law (which wouldn't cover any car I would buy 'cause I'm not spending enough money), but in the sense of spending more time in the shop than out. I got it out of the shop in Middletown and drove to Stratford, where it had issues. So I pushed it across Route 1 to a shop in Stratford, and got it out a few days later. From there, it got as far as Meriden before the engine died (there it is in the picture above, about to be winched onto a flatbed tow truck). So now I have a useless, non-running Focus and have spent enough money that I can't afford to get another car until such time as I get the guy who sold it to me to buy it back (probably with the assistance of small claims court). Which brings me to today's topic: carlessness.
In many places and for many people, carlessness is not a big deal. Shoot, I didn't even get my license till I was 24, so I know as well as anyone. But when you live in the nutmeg state, and especially when you live in W. Hartford but work in Bridgeport, the car becomes an issue. Now, I love taking the train as much as anyone, maybe more, but that ish is spendy, especially if my schedule forces me to take one of the more expensive Amtrak trains (inexplicably, the same trip between Hartford and New Haven can range in cost from $11 to $19, and it's not based on rush hours or anything so logical). Like today, I had to be in New Haven at 9:00, then down to the Bridge, then back to New Haven from 5:00 to 7:30. Naturally, once you're in New Haven past 5:15 p.m., there's no train until 8:30, and that train costs $19. Add the $11 to take the train down in the morning and the $6 round trip from Elm City to Park City on Metro-North, and you're up to $36. That's a lot of cheddar for a debt-saddled public interest lawyer to fork out.
So I headed over to priceline.com and secured a car for $24 for the day. The only problem? There are only two places in Conn. where priceline can get you rental cars: Bradley and Tweed. So for the convenience and savings of a car today, I had to ride my bike fifteen miles to the airport in the morning. And you know what? It was pretty awesome!
It was just about 50 degrees when I hit the road at 6:30, which is a fabulous temperature for riding. Dawn was stretching rosy fingers across the sky, there was awesome, spooky mist everywhere, and Windsor is actually a lovely place to ride. AND, I am now pushing a pimpin' (by my standards) red Subaru Impreza four-door (with the coveted Rhode Island plates!) for the rest of the day.
I just might start renting cars on the regular. (I'll have to see how low of a per-day price I can swing on priceline. $8, maybe?) A car and a brisk 15-mile-ride for less than the cost of a round trip on Amtrak? Yes, please. (Also, why is Amtrak so expensive? Why? They should do a sliding scale or name-your-price like priceline does. I mean, the trains are never full, so they may as well sell those seats for a cut rate, right? Right?! Right.)
(Or, here's an even better idea: You know how there's lately been a little to-do about how white collar workers at GM get free cars and free gas, which are, you know, paid for by the taxpayers and all that? GM has responded by saying that the employees provide valuable feedback, to which I say the following: Let me use the car, I will give you lots of feedback, and you won't have this problem because I am not the recipient of federal bailout money. Seriously, GM, are you hearing me? I will drive any car you give me with a full gas tank. I will drive carefully. I will review every feature. Do you want me to try out the cruise control? I do not generally like cruise control, but for you, I will do it. Do you want me to drive the speed limit? I will even do that for you. SUVs; compacts; station wagons; it ain't no thing. I live to serve. Because you know what? In the immortal words of Phife from A Tribe Called Quest, "riding on the train with no dough sucks.")
(You know what doesn't suck, though? Parenthetical digressions.)
(Oh, one last thing: Xootr should bill their Swift Folder as the best bike to buy if you have an unreliable car or no car at all. Mine has been a huge help in all this: it goes on the train, it carried me to the airport, it carried me back from Middletown after I had the Focus towed there from Meriden. God bless that sturdy little bike.)
Friday, March 27, 2009
Posted by El Presidente de China at 2:38 PM