wendyzski: (winslet)
[personal profile] wendyzski

Still feeling like crap, but at least all of the coughing means that I'm actually getting air...

But, I wanted to write about last week.  A friend was traveling out of Chicago by train for just over a week, and rather than pay to have her car sit idle in an expensive downtown parking garage she asked if I'd like to use it for the week and then just pick her up at the station when she got back. Now, I've lived in Chicago for more than 20 years without owning a car, though I do the occasional rental and am a member of a car-sharing service for bulky errands.  But this was my first experience with regular commuting by car.

A few things I noticed right away:


  • I have no idea how long it takes to drive anywhere.  Programmed by public transit, in my head somehow Arlington Heights, Wheeling, and Naperville are all the same place - they have hotels there that I get to by going downtown, getting on a Metra train for half an hour, and then take a shuttle the last bit.

  • Driving a Smart Car on a regular basis really redefines your sense of what constitutes a "big enough parking place".  I was never very good at parallel parking - it wasn't part of Drivers Ed and NJ has parking lots everywhere so it wasn't really an issue.  But with this little thing, I got really good at taking those little leftover spots on the end of the block, or those half-plowed ones at the mall.

  • There is a surprising amount of interior room for a car that looks more like you put it on than get into it.  I managed to fit 5 IKEA bags full of warehouse club groceries plus a case of toilet paper into it, though there wasn't much room to spare.  Trunk Tetris FTW.

  • Joining the 21st Century was kind of cool.  I was able to plug my phone in to an outlet in the glove box, turn on navigation, and the car told me where to go.  I love living in the future!

I also found that I quickly got out of the habit of wearing hats and gloves.  Wasn't outside long enough to need them and they just become more crap to tote around.  Same thing with my bag - I ditched the backpack for a week in favor of a smaller tote that was easier to toss in the passenger seat.

I found that going from my home in Rogers Park to the office in Roscoe Village in the morning it was slightly faster to take Damen, but coming home if I got out on time at 5 Western was the better bet.  I was usually able to find parking within a block of my home, and easily about  block from the office on Belmont.  (Belmont has timed parking restrictions so I usually just put the car on Melrose and left it for the day).

Comparing times, when I take the bus I walk out the door at about 7:38 and between busses and the last 3 block walk (if there isn't a bus around) I get to work at 8:30.  Driving, I was really only able to get 12 more minutes, as there was still the need to walk to the car, get around the one-way streets and onto the right road.  So time-wise it wasn't a great savings.  It was nice to have the ability to get to places that are less accessible by public transit, but the up-side just wasn't that much of a swing for me.

Throughout the week, I noticed a LOT of people stopping to look at the car.  I think partly because it's pretty distinctive and people were impressed with where it could park, but of course it may have also been the "Don't blame me - I voted for Dead Bob" bumpersticker...

I did find that I missed my commuting time on the bus - that's when I do a bit of reading or listen to an audiobook, or check my e-mail and generally chill and sort of mentally "check out".  You can't do that when you're driving.

I started the week with a pretty full tank, drove out to Schaumburg and around one day, hauled heavy stuff another, and went to Niles once but other than that I did mostly in-city driving.  That took me down to about 1/4 tank, which I filled back up for just over $27 at Sams Club prices of around $3.86/gal.  So it's very efficient but also has a tiny tiny gas tank.

I think that if I had the means to have a car this one might suit my needs,  It's utterly unsuited to more than 2 people or any kind of family setting.  But if it was just me (and Winslet) it would work just fine.  I've been considering (once the housing situations stabilizes) looking into getting an electric scooter or moped for the commute, but for my lifestyle at this point a car really doesn't make sense.

Date: 2013-03-18 03:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] justphoenix.livejournal.com
I did find that I missed my commuting time on the bus - that's when I do a bit of reading or listen to an audiobook, or check my e-mail and generally chill and sort of mentally "check out". You can't do that when you're driving

That's one of the reasons I like taking public transit. Glad you're feeling better!

Date: 2013-03-18 04:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wendyzski.livejournal.com
Coughing up a storm started yesterday - I pulled a couple of muscles in my back last night from coughing. But I'm definitely coming out of the fog. I actually noticed that I needed to take the trash out last night. Can't quite see the end of the tunnel yet, but it's a slightly wider tunnel than yesterday.

Date: 2013-03-18 08:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] melissa metivier (from livejournal.com)
I rode the bus to work mumbletymumble years ago even though I owned a car--when I had to be at the bus stop at 7:32 I could get myself up and out on time. When I controlled the leaving-the-house time, I frequently got to work late. :( I also really enjoyed having 20 minutes of reading time every morning, and walking up the hill from the bus station to the hospital was good exercise.

Date: 2013-03-18 05:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] bigblued.livejournal.com
I always find it amusing when I'm on my motorcycle and I happen to stop next to a smart car. My wheelbase is much longer.

Here is an article that posits that cars were the death of mens' hats. http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2012/05/04/152011840/who-killed-mens-hats-think-of-a-three-letter-word-beginning-with-i

Date: 2013-03-18 05:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] wendyzski.livejournal.com
Randy pulled up along next to me in his station wagon and asked if we could fit it in the back...

Date: 2013-03-18 06:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lisagems.livejournal.com
My lottery winning fantasy includes a smart car for everyday driving, but I'd have to have a 2nd vehicle to get to shows and things. There is no possible way to get
a pop-up tent, tables, displays, and merchandise for 2 to 4 days into a smart car. I *might* be able to get merchandise for a few days, and maybe displays into one. But, yeah. 2nd car required.

Of course, the lottery fantasy also includes a Clayton iHome somewhere far enough out to require a vehicle in the first place. (and three shelties named Whiskey, Tango, and Foxtrot!)

Date: 2013-03-18 07:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lisagems.livejournal.com
Oh, and for putting it in the back...

We could have picked it up, stuffed it into Dusty's van and had room for everything else.

Date: 2013-03-18 10:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] stormdog.livejournal.com
It's definitely the kind of car I'd want if I could have any car at all.

But part of the reason I want to live in the city again someday is so I don't have to have one. Though I probably will, so I can take photo trips. So I don't know. *laughs*

Date: 2013-03-19 01:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] katexxxxxx.livejournal.com
A friend has this version: http://www.click-cars.co.uk/7297/images/car_id_708_9.jpg Fun, but a bit daft! :D

Glad to see you are recovering a bit. Been madly busy, should have been in touch all the same. My bad.

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