On Not Driving

My wife recently bought a new car and it’s an interesting experience…psychologically.

As I was playing the role of emotional supporter, I had a lot of time to wander around and fall in love with the shiny things. I wanted a toy of my own, even though spending that kind of money on something that’s going to sit in a parking lot for most of the time makes no sense.

So, I kept my metaphorical checkbook in my symbolic back pocket.

You see, if everything goes to plan, the next car I buy will be self-driving. And there are a number of good reasons for this.

  • Self-driving cars are safer.
  • Self-driving cars are futuristic, and therefore cool and sexy.
  • Self-driving cars mean that I don’t have to drive, because I hate to drive.
  • Anything bad that happens, I am entirely free from blame; and this is my ultimate aim in life.

I spent a good 38 years not driving and rarely felt it was a loss. Sure, when it rained I didn’t appreciate sitting among the other damp and miserable losers on public transport. Having to base my schedule on when the bus is due rather than when I want to leave can also be frustrating.

But public transport means I get to read a book as I travel. And I get to listen to music or even audiobooks when I walk to where I ultimately need to be. I get exercise, I get to actually make use of the books I can’t stop buying (or start reading); the more I think about it, the more sense it makes.

But mostly I wouldn’t have to drive on these crazy roads. In my first job here in Austin, one of the locals told me something that proves itself to be true every year: you know it’s raining without having to look out of a window because you can hear the sirens. The intersection outside my window is something of a black spot in rainy weather. I am now way too familiar to the sound of metal on metal in a thunderstorm.

Austin drivers cannot drive in the rain. Many Austin drivers have a problem driving in perfect weather. And too many of them are driving massive pick-up trucks more suited to invading a country than taking kids to soccer practice.

So, bring on the self-driving cars. Here in Austin, we need them.

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