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Carless-Day Four -Fare Trade

The cab arrived ten minutes early, then idled at the curb while Amy—always running a smidge late—finished packing her briefcase.

“Can you run up to my office and find a writing tablet for me?” she asked, winding a computer cable.

“Where are they hidden?”

“Just under the printer.”

I slipped upstairs, found one, then hopped back down to hand it to her.


I’m very sensitive to time when leaving on a trip. Amy’s event horizon works differently. She’s ready when she’s ready. This morning she would leave about five minutes before she’d ordered the taxi to arrive; unusual punctuality, probably a fluke. I schlepped her bag down the front walk, handing it to the cabbie. Amy and I smooched and hugged, then she disappeared into the cab and the cab evaporated into the hazy morning.

When we had a car, I usually drove her to the airport, a chore I liked, even though it meant a harrowing drive back home through rush traffic. It gave Amy a forehead to bounce her anticipation off of, and me a bit more time to adapt to Amy’s absence. Now carless, this ritual can’t happen.

She texted me from the airport and I called her so we could kind of make up for the conversation we’d missed driving out together. I was a distracted conversationalist, though, in the middle of writing an article. I’d finally, after several mute weeks, found my writing voice again and didn’t really need the chat. Amy didn’t really need it either, so we hung up and went our separate ways. Me, to finish writing that piece, she, to poke some holes in the sky.

It was more than a fair trade for me to write while Amy hired a cab to wend her to the airport. I needed the success more than I needed to play cabbie, though the experience felt odd. I’d grown accustomed to being responsible for transportation, even if that meant no more than a ten minute hop to the Metro station. My relatively extreme time sensitivity would occupy my attention for an hour or so before departure while Amy seemed to dawdle. Our different event horizons amplified the effect for me.

But this morning, I worked right through that time, not noticing the cab’s arrival until after it arrived. Not, as usual, warming up the car while Amy found her own tablet. I felt a little irresponsible. Or maybe I just felt not responsible, and missed the dependency responsibility encourages.

This carless life seems to foster personal responsibility. If Amy needs to get to the airport, she’s perfectly capable of figuring out how to get there. My involvement’s irrelevant. If I need to get across town, I needn’t worry that I might disable Amy’s ability to get anywhere by taking the car. No juggling that scarce resource.

Curiously, without a car, our transportation resources seem less constricted.

©2012 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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