I knew in the early days of last week that something wasn’t quite right with my car as the engine was no longer purring like a contended cat. As it didn’t sound too bad and as it was serviced recently and as no warning light was lit on the dashboard, I put the out of tune engine hum to the back of mind and drove on. However by Thursday evening the noise from the engine had morphed into a ominous rattle.
I had little choice but to bring my car to a garage on Friday. The garage guys uttered some inauspicious phrases as the peered at the engine. Now, I have as much understanding of the inner workings of the internal combustion engine as I have of the finer points of Swahili grammar. But my understanding of ‘could cause damage that might cost thousands to repair’ if I continued to drive it was immediate and total. The water tank was in need of replacement and as a new one wouldn’t arrive until Monday or Tuesday I went home car-less.
Good heavens to Murgatroyd how was I to survive for days sans my thirsty petrol-drinking companion? Very well as it happened. I used a taxi on Friday evening but as everything else I had planned to do at the weekend could wait until another time I decided to stay at home on Saturday and Sunday.
Thankfully my weekend without a car coincided with some glorious weather. Glorious in Irish meteorological terms translates as: blue skies, sunshine but still chilly. I am also lucky that I live close to the sea, so I walked often by it and watched: boats bobbing up and down; fishermen casting; children playing; dogs dashing around; and the water rippling to and from the distant blue horizon.
I had plenty of time to hover, dust and tackle the ironing pile and I felt saintly for doing so. I read the papers at my leisure. With time on my hands I took more notice of my surroundings and often gazed up at the ever-changing sky. And I even dead-headed my house plants.
Ah yes, those life lessons. They were:
- That it feels good to detach myself from something, such as my car, that I think I cannot live without and discover that yes I can. Ok, I admit I might find it difficult long-term but who knows all things are possible.
- There are always alternatives. I have a couple of decisions to make and in much the same way that there are many alternatives to car travel so too, I realized, these decisions aren’t necessarily a simple either/or.
I am still without car, still surviving and still sane but I confess I am looking forward to collecting it on Wednesday.
21 responses to “In which I am without a car for the weekend and learn some life lessons”
I can relate, I recently sold mine and am without a car now. I thought I would spontaneously combust, go totally nuts without my wheels but I have done just fine, I walk more, take taxi when I need to, and if I must, take NYC public transportation. I am freed from parking on the street and I was stressed to get home in time to get a coveted parking space, I no longer worry about insurance payments and because my car was older the dreaded mumbling that you encountered from the mechanic. I know you will be happy to have your car back on Wednesday but it’s just wonderful that you were able to do without and happily survived.
Gosh that’s interesting. It sounds like your car free life is a healthy one – more walking and less stress. That must have been a nightmare having to worry each evening about getting home in time to get a parking space. I am sure our cars cost us more than we realize if we factored in absolutely everything and that sum would pay for a serious amount of taxis.Yes I will be glad to have my car back but I am also happy that I now know that if I had to I could do without it. I think! 😉
I’ve heard recently about a staycation, now your experience must be something like a walkation, perhaps? 😀 it’s really amuzing that the smallest change in our daily routine can make us feel, I don’t know… refreshed, maybe? good luck for your 4-wheel-companion! 😉
here in berlin I either go by underground, or call a cab, or walk, or drive my motorbike. I gave up my car because driving here is madness, and parking is luck.
I think that’s so true what you say about the smallest changes in our routine making us feel refreshed – because that’s exactly how I felt after my enforced no-car weekend. I don’t think I could cope with the madness of driving in a large city such as Berlin especially if parking is luck #megastress 😉
it’s even exactly what cognition scientists advise to do: take a different road to the office or hold the phone in another hand. our brain seems to long for every new experience – every break in a routine. we all happen to sit too much (car-office-car-couch), and our brain needs movement just as much = so your no-car weekend was quite a treat! 😀
Yes it’s interesting it has a scientific basis. I definitely need to exercise my brain more and doing everyday things differently would be an easy way to do so. I will try driving an unfamiliar route tomorrow. Thanks. 🙂
just make sure it’s a SAFE one! 😀
I will thank you. 😉
Very interesting perspective, B: those relatively minor hiccups sometimes force you to do things in a different way or even to relax and spend your spare time doing something that you may have put off for a while. Not necessarily a bad thing! Hope you got it back today, though! 🙂
Thanks Stefano, I collected my car this afternoon. Yes it was good to be shaken off my familiar axis briefly. Aside from having a relaxing weekend two notable side effects were taking more exercise and spending less money … 😉
Sorry B but I cannot relate. I’m the worst driver on earth and cars are my least favorite mean of transportation. I love public transportation. However, since it seems to mean a lot for you, I’m happy that today you are regain possession of your beloved car. Enjoy it. F. Xx
Francesca, I was pleased to get my car back today with the engine purring happily again. But I managed to survive very well without it. One downside of getting it back is that I probably won’t get as much exercise as I did over the last four days when I walked further than I have done in a long time. 😉 Thanks for your comment. B xx 🙂
I’m glad you got your car back! 🙂 I enjoyed reading this including the comments, it gives me something to reflect on and also a new perspective on daily life. Like a wonderful meditation. A nice thing to wake up to, you put a smile on my face now!
Thank you Dina, it was good to get my car back. And I appreciate very much your lovely comment. 😉
Love from B
It sounds like you did just fine without your car! Walking to the sea sounds lovely… 🙂
Yes, I did just fine without my car. I love the sea and walking by it, it has seeped into my soul over the years. 😉
But what about the Dart – that wonderful service that us Londoners find so convenient (and such good value)?? Hold on to the lovely weather -we are on our way over soon! XXX
Good grief is the Dart good value, I must learn to appreciate it more. And yes, I did take it and enjoyed the journey as it made its way townwards along the coast. Sad to report that the weather is not so lovely today but still dry.
I hope Dublin is on your itinerary as it would be lovely to catch up. xxx
It is *such* a great idea to do something like this, whether because circumstances force us into it or because we just need to push Reset once in a while and remember what truly matters to us and what doesn’t. Sounds like the car is essential for your basic needs but you’re realizing you might not feel as helpless without it for a short while than you expected. Hurray for happy surprises! You’ll undoubtedly appreciate your car all the more now for having found you can manage without but know how it simplifies your life.
Yes it was a great idea. It’s a funny old world, I didn’t have my car but I could have used public transport to get about that weekend. But I didn’t so I think something inside of me was telling me that I needed a restful weekend to recharge my batteries. And yes indeed hurray for happy surprises!