My pricey horse and buggy
Interesting piece in the New York Times about our future, which is nearer than we think - a future in which owning a car will be seen as quaint as owning a horse.
Yes, me too. I panic at the thought of not owning a private vehicle. It’s been such a big part of my life for more than 30 years now, I have trouble imagining myself without one. Having a car has always been associated with freedom and independence in my mind, and those aren’t values I take lightly.
And yet. One day I won’t have one and I won’t miss it. I know this. I panic at the thought of it while at the same time I’m perfectly aware my reaction is irrational.
In part it’s irrational because right at the moment the alternatives aren’t great for someone like me. I need to keep ferrying my kids to their activities and that would be a major pain to do by transit or bike. Sure, I could use Uber but that would be fairly pricey since the activities they want to do are only offered in Kanata, a fair distance from their house near the Experimental Farm. I have looked into car sharing options such as Vrtucar but I’m hesitant. I’m probably showing my age more than anything by clinging to the safety blanket currently occupying a parking stall in the underground garage.
If you’d asked me just before that Y2K bug that never hit whether I could one day live without a phone line in my house of apartment, I would have looked at you real funny. And what, use smoke signals? Back then, the options weren’t brilliant. I still needed to be able to receive faxes in my home office, for crying out loud. (Mom, what’s a fax?) Cellphones were dumb and slow. And the internet came through the phone line anyway. It made no sense to think of any other option.
Until the day when other options made themselves obvious. Internet through the cable outlet? Yes! That was the end of the phone/fax lines. And then one day internet came through something else (I think it’s called a “magic box”) and I didn’t need to keep cable either so off it went. By that point I had an iPhone 3GS and I was so high-tech I couldn’t stand myself.
It’s been well over a decade without a phone line or cable. I don’t miss either one bit. Been saving myself upwards of $100 a month all this time. And I don’t miss it one bit. When I moved into my new apartment last summer all I wanted was the magic box with internet in it. I can watch films and shows on Netflix, Amazon Prime, rent movies on iTunes or, if necessary, buy DVDs. It usually isn’t necessary to buy DVDs. I rent or buy everything from iTunes. I don’t want the physical clutter and all the plastic wrapping. Why have it collect dust?
I used to have a pretty elaborate DVD collection. I had lots of CDs too. And before that VHS tapes. Remember those? And the rewinding machine? What a hoot. Do we miss any of that? Or photo albums?
Will we one day think of our private cars the way I think of my old phone line? No doubt. Is it scary to contemplate? You bet. Will it happen naturally and without too much gripe? I hope so.
My children, who are today aged 12, 10 and 8 will one day look back on their childhood and think the private car was probably about as useful as a fax machine. To them there won’t be anything scary about going without either, and the world will be better for it.