How I became an ex-cyclist aka Adventures in car ownership aka My car eats money and probably souls.

So (fuck) I bought a car (shit).

It all started with graduation, then a job offer, and then before I knew it I was dishing out cash for street parking, safety inspections and Quebec registration. And parking tickets.

Introducing Olive the stinkin' DinoTaurus.
Introducing Olive the stinkin’ DinoTaurus.

I have without a doubt joined a new world of deciphering french road signs, paying attention to gas prices and shoveling my way out of massive snowdrifts. I never before recognized the multitude of challenges inherent in car ownership. Take parking for instance: I can’t just lock up my auto to any old signpost and call it a day. Nope, I have to cruise around the block in an ever widening circle and pay careful attention to the signs that indicate where I can park as well as when and for how long.

Then comes the actual act of parking. Montrealers love their street parking, which necessitates car drivers to master the highly technical parallel park maneuver. My car is the size of a boat and, being a new driver, every parallel parking job I manage is a small but still confetti-and-champagne-worthy success.

And then there are the highways. Long stretches of nothingness that connect suburbs to box stores, and people from work, to home, to work again. I spend so much time on highways these days that I am certain that all the little towns I pass on the way to and from work exist only for the highways to connect them. I’ve spent days cycling on highways (and let’s be real, they are no place for bikes), but it doesn’t come close to the disconnected feeling of hurtling along in a metal box, far removed from distance, weather and community.

Also, I’m not fluent in car.  I’m not really fluent in bike either, but my car doesn’t speak to me the way my bike does. With my bike I get to be a team player, while in my car I am a passenger in the driver’s seat. I recently told a friend that I would love to get something installed, Flinstones style, to keep me active while driving an hour a day. He suggested I get a bike (go figure).

On the other hand, my car opens doors (get it?) to otherwise inaccessible work, storage space and the potential for road trips. It also forces me headfirst into the grown-up world of insurance payments and waking up extra early to move my car before the clock strikes ticket-and-towing hour.  That said, I am still on a one year plan to return to my original car-free day-to-day.