My Fellow Inebriates,
It’s snowing here, which happens only once a year or so, and I can hear spinning tires in the distance. Nobody knows how to drive when snow hits Vancouver, or by extension Langley—even when sober, which you should all be if you’re behind the wheel.
I wish we didn’t have to drive at all! Commuting is totally stressing my dad out, and not in a good way—i.e., he’s fed up with traffic, boredom and gas expenses, but not stressed enough to bring home a case of beer every night. My dad seems destined to give himself an ulcer when he should be getting his buzz on instead, and I feel bad thinking of him dodging incompetent drivers on the road…so I thought I’d give him some reasons to give up driving:
- It’s bad for breathing.
- It’s bad financially.
- It’s bad globally.
- It’s bad for physical fitness.
- It’s bad for the psyche.
- You can’t drink if you’re driving—OMG.
Right? Let’s get out some wine, stow the car keys and pat ourselves on the back for not being behind the wheel.
What, my die-hard driving friends (who I know always get themselves safely home before shaking a martini)—you want reasons?
What’s that smell?
The biggest problem with driving is the contribution it makes to air pollution. Ground-level car exhaust is poisonous. Asthma is on the rise, as is the number of “indoor days” recommended when pollution hangs in the air and threatens those with respiratory vulnerabilities. Despite efforts to limit emissions, the number of cars has increased, as has the average vehicle size. Urban sprawl continues, making cars necessities where they once were optional.
What do we do? It’s pretty hypocritical for a housebound bear to tell you that you shouldn’t be driving. But I’m worried! Worried for my dad driving, and worried for my mum walking around with two kids who are just the right height to huff the most car exhaust possible. By the time they get to wine-tasting age their olfactory receptor cells will have burned off with their lung alveoli.
Traffic is out of hand.
It takes my dad 90 minutes to get to Vancouver from Langley (a suburb of Vancouver) during rush hour IF there aren’t any accidents holding up traffic. That’s three hours a day, 60 hours a month, 720 hours a year. By the time my dad hits retirement age he’ll have spent four YEARS navigating through gridlock. That time could have been spent on a bar stool.
Without taking into consideration car insurance, maintenance and initial outlay, it’s crazily expensive to run a car. That commute of my dad’s?—$500 a month in gas alone. Need I say it? Five bottles of kick-ass single malt.
We are getting really soft.
Even if you don’t have a beanbag ass, it’s probably soft from driving. Here in the ‘burbs we drive everywhere, often crossing town several times a day chauffeuring kids. Too tired to play with their kids themselves, parents instead oversubscribe their kids to numerous activities, then rush around like maniacs, when they could sign the kids up for one thing and walk to it. Let’s face it, we sign them up for activities to tire them out, because we don’t want them up with us at 11:00pm. If we made them walk they’d get plenty tired.
Traffic could make us snap.
So we’re physically soft, but there are psychic costs to traffic as well. It’s depressing; it sucks our energy away, and it makes us feel powerless. The power of a car ironically robs us of our own locomotive power, ultimately making our cardiovascular/respiratory systems all the more vulnerable to the pollution the car generates. Moreover, traffic makes people feel freaking desperate. Un-kinking your muscles after you emerge from a cramped traffic odyssey requires a live-in masseuse and more vodka than my parents would ever contemplate buying.
Our climate is f#cked.
Yes, you can find plenty of freaks out there wagging their jaws about the jury being out on climate change. Fact is, there’s pretty much full scientific consensus. If you’re not a complete whackjob and/or fundamentalist conservative you probably have the brain cells to appreciate that climate change is a reality, and that we’ve already committed our grandchildren’s grandchildren to cleaning up our shit. Sadly, we don’t seem to be willing to give them a head start by investing in some solutions.
Okay, so I hate myself for lecturing, and I really apologize because the stern tone is rooted in sobriety—my personal seventh layer of hell and the impetus to rain on everybody’s four-wheeling parade. I know it’s hard to get away from driving. As a society we’re chained to our cars. But here’s the thing:
If you drive, you can’t drink. So driving really messes with your alcoholism, doesn’t it? It’s a good reason to eliminate it (driving). And it’s so much more fun to reel around on the bus with strangers than it is to get arrested in your car.
So what needs to happen to demote the car in society’s esteem?
What do you think?