No car, no problem

Every time I eat one of my typically modest-budget meals, I always find myself thanking heaven I’m too pathetic to have a car.

To be sure, I’m more pathetic for not having a license. It’s a long story involving some eggs, a wedding and a car chase, but in high school I never got that special privilege to drive. However, I’m often glad I lack this privilege because it means that, legally, I don’t have to be as miserable as those who must stare at rising digits at a gas pump once a week.

There are moments when this financial liberation from car ownership doesn’t seem to outweigh the price of being pathetic. Most of these moments fall between Thanksgiving and mid-March, when the ground is covered in snow.

One thing that helps is wearing durable shoes. Boots are great for keeping snow out of your socks (few things are as uncomfortable as wet socks), but they can be awkward at work or in the hallways going from class to class. Shoes that have thick soles and waterproof leather work very well. They might be between $40 and $50, but most of these kinds of shoes look great during all seasons and can last for years.

Another thing that helps is planning classes and work around the bus schedule. This can seem tricky because sometimes classes and work shifts get scheduled around times that make catching – or missing – the bus seem like a hassle. A longboard or bike make things much more time-efficient (not to mention the beneficial exercise from biking and walking). Employers and professors are happy to work with those in less-than-fortunate circumstances. Additionally, it saves money avoiding parking stickers and pesky tickets.

The biggest inconvenience a lack of car poses is in the social life department – dating in particular. On the one hand, it seems terrible to always bum rides off people like Ferris Bueller, but it’s impressive how this encourages bonds with friends. You can also help cover gas. Additionally, it’s not unusual in this local culture to go on group dates, where carpooling is certainly feasible – and cheaper in the long run.

For just a couple’s night out on the town, dismiss ideas of the “chivalrous” male with the car. Girls drive guys around all the time; it’s not a gender-specific job. If there is mutual interest, one can make the date or relationship work around someone without a car (the lack of such a helping desire may be indicative of other times for give and take, which may prompt you to end the relationship and simplify your social life, anyway). The best thing about not having a car while dating or in a committed relationship is that no need for gas money means more money for dinners, movies and other activities.

Life without a car might be a pain in the neck sometimes, especially during winter. But most of the time it makes fashion sense, school, work, and dating much simpler – and cheaper – in the long run. It may be better to be pathetic than to be broke at the pump.

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