Carless- Day Twenty One -Chessmate

chesspiece
Driving seems checker-like; carlessness, more chess-like.

Cars can go straight to anywhere, mostly via arterials. Busses and trains have fixed but circuitous routines. Bikers and walkers skirt the edges of bus and car territory. Getting from here to there by car entails little strategy, just take the shortest, straight-line route. The same trip by bus requires some serious plotting and planning.

Today was haircut Thursday. Natali’s shop sits about three miles north as the car drives, but it’s almost twice that far by public transportation. Driving, I start by heading north. To ride the Metro, I start by walking a mile in the wrong direction to hop a train heading north, then walk almost a mile south, where I find that Natali’s gone for his annual vacation back to visit family in Italy.

I’d forgotten my havelock and the morning sun was relentless. I’d sweated through my shirt, so I looked for anything to avoid walking that blistering almost mile back to the Metro station. I looked up and there came a bus, which dropped me four blocks from a Metro station I’d passed through on the train twenty minutes before. I hopped onto a southbound train back to my home station, where, after completing a couple of errands, I found a bus that would drop me off three blocks from home, haircutless, too.

Even walking sometimes means going out of my way in this car-centric town. The shortest distance between two points becomes an irrelevant factor to actually getting there.

Thank heavens for Google Maps®! I can type in where I want to go, hit the little bus icon, and get an often reliable routing. Many are counter-intuitive, heading south to end up north, and over- or under-shoot the actual destination.

That last mile usually means changing conveyances or hoofing it, and requires patience as well as understanding. Driving, I can quickly compensate for a missed turn. Hop the wrong bus or miss a Metro stop, and I might add a half hour or more to the trip.

I’m no chess master, and I am perfectly capable of checkmating myself on this carless used-to-be checkerboard, now chess board. I am practicing, though, being a chessmate. Clearly a novice, discovering how limitations enable.

©2012 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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