Saturday, March 06, 2004

Why do people drive?
Although I’ve had a driver’s license for over a quarter century, I’ve had a car for less than five years. That is to say, I was a pedestrian till I was in my forties. If you live in an Eastern metropolitan area, that’s not worth mentioning at all, but in the West, it is worth mentioning. It’s just weird. I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll mention it again. The reason I though of it today, is that I was driving my visiting mother to a play this afternoon and looking at our fellow drivers. For many years, as a pedestrian, I verged on becoming an anti-car activist (only the fact that I lived in a town with a nearly non-existent mass transit system, and was therefore dependent on freeloading from driving friends to survive, kept me honest). About ten years ago I read an article on why people chose to drive. The top reason given in polls was, not convenience or freedom or time, it was privacy. People who drove wanted that time spent concentrating on something other than work, family, or any other mundane event. They wanted that Zen experience of emptying their minds of anything except the present moment. They wanted the intimacy of them and the road. That is a beautiful statement of the existential dilemma of modern life. So, now that they have carried their damn cell-phones into their cars, what excuse do they use now?

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