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Carless- Day Seven -Good For

Back on carless day three, the landlords called to tell us that they’ve decided to sell the house we’re living in. We gotta be out of here by October 1. Where will we relocate? No idea.

I’m adopting the strategy I employed when we found this place. A car’s no advantage when scoping out neighborhoods. I need to walk around to see what a neighborhood’s like; driving-by can’t tell me nearly as much as can the people I meet on the street.

So this morning, I hopped a bus to the end of the line in a prospective neighborhood. This gave me the opportunity to scope out the place without attending to traffic or avoiding getting lost. The bus driver chased me out when we arrived at the last stop, and I started back-tracking the bus route, scoping out the place.

I immediately noticed the smell. Situated way too close to the Potomac, the whole neighborhood reeked of sour, musty swamp water. The houses were uniformly too big for our needs, which wasn’t apparent from the street but obvious from the sidewalk. I thought about walking a few side streets only to find they had no sidewalks. Also, the bus ride had taken the best part of an hour, off rush hours, and that alone served to disqualify this neighborhood for our habitation.

Later that day, my neighbor called to say a friend of his had found us a place to live. His wife, too, had found a notice of a place for rent. He offered to drive me by those two places and I quickly agreed, though the fact that I’d need a lift to reach them probably disqualified them. The first place was way too big. The second, way too far away from public transport.

I was fortunate when we relocated here that I didn’t know my way around. The busses and subway trains knew the territory very well, and I learned to leverage their local understanding to support my house hunting. We’d decided that we wanted to be close enough to transit that we would not be prisoner to the place, so leaving the car parked helped me determine which qualified and which didn’t. We could reserve the car for getting us to walk throughs of prospective places once I’d found qualified ones on foot.

I’m not anti-car, but gaining a deeper appreciation of where a car belongs in my life. Without having one handy, I’m gaining a growing ability to distinguish what they’re good for and what they’re not.

©2012 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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