I don’t drive. Never have and probably never will (#neverland). There are some places in this vast, beautiful world where vehicle ownership is a luxury. America is not one of them. In this country, particularly living in North Texas, if you tell someone you don’t own a form of conveyance, they ask you how you manage. “Eww, you ride the bus? Wow. I couldn’t do that.” “You walk everywhere? Doesn’t that take forever?” “It’s too fuckin’ hot here for all that.” Of course, in some metropolitan areas, people who own vehicles do so at their own inconvenience and probably use them as a matter of status, wearing the traffic and frustrations arising from it as badges of honor. They have freedom. “I can leave the hustle and hedonism of the city any time I please.” They can be righteously indignant at the prices of gas or parking or taxes, &c., and they can give you three options if you deign yourself to asking for a ride: cash, grass, or ass. Conjecture aside, North Texas (I’m speaking, in particular, of Dallas) is not-so-unique in that it is so incredibly spread out; you can work with people downtown who live hours away if not for having their own vehicle. Public transportation is such that it doesn’t quite take you everywhere you need to be without hours of holdovers and zig-zagging as opposed to going in straight lines to get you there.
Toward the end of our sexually tense “friendship,” an ex-coworker of mine took to lecturing me on the pathetic nature of my “hostile” stance with regard to getting my own mode of transportation. The question of why I was accepting—yes, accepting and not begging for, mind you—rides and then refusing ever-so-obstinately to procure wheels with which to chauffeur her around (?) became a nagging theme of our every encounter. See, for her, it was completely flabbergasting that I would make excuses and get belligerent about something that should’ve been seen as quite reasonable considering I was a thirty-year-old man with a child. For me, my age and my personal situation had nothing to do with what I had initially perceived as kindness on her part and a desire to spend time with me. I saw myself as being perfectly satisfied with not having to deal with the cost-prohibitive and—given my lack of purchasing power—ultimately fruitless expense of owning something depreciating by the second and becoming more unreliable with each mile logged.
Put this way: cars are simply too expensive, even at used dealership prices, to take a chance on saving up months of paychecks only to get six weeks of use and then end up with costs of repair doubling what you paid to get the piece of shit in the first place and ending up at square one. So why should I bother? Well, here are four reasons I can think of off the top of my bad haircut:
For many North Texans, if you don’t have a car, you’re probably riding DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit), which isn’t the worst option (Houston’s METRO was so terrible that when I was a child I would cry at the bus stops because the wait was so horrendously long), and they even offer services like park and rides, rideshare programs, and year-long company bus passes to encourage North Texans to minimize their carbon footprint or whatever. Apparently it also saves money, but the sad truth, especially for someone like myself of meager means, is that DART is neither cheap nor is it very convenient. I’m a paean, earning something around 16k a year working full-time or something approaching it, and living in Dallas proper, my place of employment is still a good three miles from my home (a one bedroom apartment). The city is bathed in yellow, with at least five different routes traveling to or in the vicinity of downtown from within a mile of where I live. Yet none of them get me closer than three long ass blocks from my job.
What’s worse is the route that gets me the closest to my job is about a mile away from my apartment. This leaves me with two options: I can hop on the closest bus (in front of my apartment) and ride four blocks to the stop or I can walk. I always walk because waiting ten minutes to ride a bus for two and then wait five more minutes to ride one for what seems like 45 and is more like half-an-hour is bullshit. And expensive. If I had a car, it’d take twelve minutes tops depending on traffic.
It’s three miles! I can walk that in less time. And I normally do, bringing us to:
If you know anything about this place, you know summers are obnoxious and miserable. It seems like the same people who love their cars and condescend to you about not having one are the same people who love this time of year. This past summer I walked to work more often than not, and upon my arrival, I’d get the same comments: “Wow, you’re sweating!” “It’s that hot out there?” “I don’t know how you do it! Not in a million years would I do that!” My response was generally, “Yeah, I don’t like swamp ass, either, but I don’t have much of a choice.” I still have uniform shirts that are dingy and sweat-stained from the exertions, and I have no shame in wearing them to work despite the comments from supervisors. Honestly, I don’t give a shit.
This happened last week when I was walking to work for a double shift. What began as light rain became convective and coupled with the harsh wind, conspired to loose from me my only protection; an umbrella donated to me by a neighbor. By the time I got to work, the umbrella was utterly useless, I was soaked and so I smashed it several times on the floor, taking this picture of the aftermath.
Not having reliable transportation also can have an effect on your extra-curricular activities. It’s difficult to get to places that are out-of-the-way, especially if you’re planning on hanging out and getting stupid drunk, and it’s a pain-in-the-ass to set meeting times (everything has to be done earlier than if you were driving) or really prepare for any unforeseen circumstances. Luckily for me, I have good friends who generally don’t mind giving me a lift—thanks folks! I suppose that having a car might be a disadvantage in this case, as then you would be expected to DD. No fun, no fun, no fun, no fun, no fun…
Let’s just call it a draw.
4. That Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Whatever the kids are calling it these days, in the big city of Dallas, Texas; the women give you the side-eye if you tell them you don’t have a car. Apparently it’s beneath them to drive men around when… This is that status symbol thing Insert capitalistic, sexist nonsense here, I guess. I just tell them I care about the environment and my health &c. and material things aren’t as important as the big ideas that should bring us together. Lol. When things went tits up with the mother of my child and me, I remember requesting to speak with her grandfather and getting a really long diatribe about how not having my own whip was about more than just financial circumstance. To his mind, it had everything to do with ambition and my lack thereof. There was no reason to be as old as I was and not have reliable transportation, because: hell, those Mexicans can barely even speak English, but they have big ass trucks and do a great job landscaping. Forgetting the socio-political and, dare I say, racist implications of his words (talk about damning with faint praise), maybe he was right. Not even impending fatherhood could inspire me to achieving an aspect of the “American dream.” Not even the loss of the person I considered the “love of my life” could roust me from my so called principles.
The reason to defy “conventional wisdom” is simple: making the necessary sacrifices to attain something for convenience—and even, possibly, necessity—and the idea that I’m somehow crippled without said convenience was less important to me than being there for my son whether I had it or not. Now, I don’t expect bullshitty “brownie points” or a pat on the back for a job well-done, but I do expect respect. Being in possession of an object, no matter how useful, isn’t more important than working with what one has (out of love and desperation), and besides, who could do bad-ass selfies like this one in a car?
 It didn’t seem much improved when I returned for college in ’07 other than the addition of a light rail that took you from one end of downtown to the other.
 This can be true of work, but seeing how I don’t care whether or not I’m on time for a place that will sadly, always be there, it’s not so important.