October 29, 2008

Scattered Confessions of a Car Owner

Regrettably, the gig is up. After one sublime year of living in Los Angeles without a car, we're roaming the freeways once again in our diminutive sized 95' Civic hatchback. While it was a necessary purchase, it wasn't an easy one, especially in light of the post car buying expenses that follow, namely, registration, insurance, parking permits and a never ending engagement to gas.

For me, living car free meant a better environment, less bills and a way to identify and connect with my city more organically. But perhaps more importantly, it was an act of rebellion against conventional life in LA, a city where almost no one gets by without a vehicle.

Suffice it to say, owning a car is a tremendous burden on me. But it's not all gloom. I will confess there is one area of car owning that I find especially pleasing. The miles per gallon game, of course.

While there are many ways to save gas and increase your mpg, I have found that one in particular has worked more than any other: Driving slow. And by slow, I mean ridiculously slow, like when you took road trips in the early 80's when the 55 on the speedometer was still in bold red lettering.

I cannot tell you how exhilarating it is to see a cop and not feel afraid. And I have found that driving 55 actually does save you at the pump, certainly helping chip away the annual cost of insurance. On our last tank, the Honda rolled 338 miles on 8.3 gallons of gas for a whopping 40.7 miles per gallon.

The downside is that driving 55mph in the freeway city is like cheering against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Just two nights ago, on a late night trip to Hollywood, I found myself the cause of a one middle finger, two high-beam light flicks and several beeping horns. So while I no longer pump the brakes at the sight of a dreaded cop, I now fear my fellow drivers with nearly as much apprehension. I understand them only because I used to be like them. It seems I have achieved some kind of role reversal.

So the gig is up and it's mostly awful. But if you happen to pass me on the 134 or the 110, which you no doubt will, you might just see a tall guy in a small car wearing a slight smile of pleasure, realizing his 55 mph might just be the new rebellion he was looking for.


Jamie said...

Over 40 mpg! That's so great!

So, what was it in the end? The coming baby? Work? 3 babies total? Just curious.

We are doing a bit of car sharing, but it's because Clint and I need our car on the same night - so we use the Kind's. Kind of makes me sick b/c we're using 2 cars then 2 nights a week, but in the end I am thankful.

Gwen Jackson said...

In reference to Jamie's comment... 3 babies total????

Suddenly I'm picturing triplets lined up in the back of the car. You keeping something from us? Or, it's a typo.

pk said...

you're such a great writer man. I love the way you turn a phrase.

I'm also surprised you didn't share with the world your real secret for low mpg...prNd321

Beck said...

If I weren't craft-weary from making a viking costume for a 7-month old, I would so make you a medal for your mpg. For real.

Also, I love Hondas. Don't tell the environment.

Clint Ussher said...

I met their coming little one plus the Sam & Rosie's 2 kids... :)

::athada:: said...

You're not alone in your grandma driving Josh

And it looks like plenty of us get the bird, maybe esp. in CA :) http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/10/19/MNG3NFAOF11.DTL

I usually end up making compromises with my wife - 61 mph in a 70.

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