Elaine Soloway's Rookie Widow Series: Cheapskate, Environmentalist, or Chicken; How Journaling Propels Me Forward; Que Sera, Sera
I had my choice of a Ford Focus Hatchback or a Honda Insight Hybrid. Either would cost $47.04 for the four-hour rental I would use to drive to Old Orchard where I'd meet my friend, Ruth, for lunch.
This online search was prompted by the absence of my own Honda Fit, which I had returned to the leaseholder prior to moving to downtown Chicago.
"Don't worry," I had told friends who worried the absence of a vehicle would curb my weekly visits. "I'll join a car-sharing service — they're parked in my high-rise's garage — so there won't be any interruption."
Immediately after unpacking, I signed up with a car-sharing service, paid a $60 annual membership fee, plus $9 per month for a complete damage waiver. But, in the 365 days I've had the plastic card in my wallet, I've never used it.
At first, I blamed my reluctance to the lack of available vehicles in my garage. Oh, there was a sampling several blocks away, but the trek eroded some of the ease I had envisioned.
Part of the problem is my four-feet-nine-inches and need for visibility. In order to lift me above the steering wheel, I must use two pillows. The thought of schlepping those booster seats to a far away car lot is unappealing.
My hesitation with a car-sharing service hasn't interrupted my promise to friends. Instead, I opt for the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), or Uber and Lyft ride-sharing apps with their private drivers.
I decided to finally reserve a car for the 16-mile trip to the shopping center. I'd still have to walk elsewhere to get a car, but I was willing.
As I perused my vehicle options, a trio of voices barged into my brain. First was the stingy sidekick. "If you take the train and bus, it'll only cost $2.50 roundtrip," she said, her demeanor mirroring a sensible accountant's. "Compare that to the $47.04 rental."
Then, another voice interrupted; this one with a righteous tone, "Well, I agree that ditching a car is smart, but more important than cost is the effect on the environment." She was the same noodge who berated me for leaving at home canvas bags when I shop at Whole Foods. "Air pollution, global warming," she droned.
The third voice chimed in — timid, shaky. "Please don't drive," she said. "I'm scared. Remember what happened the last time?"
How could I forget? At the time, I was still living on the northwest side, and wanted to try car sharing before my move. With vehicles across the street in Independence Park; I thought it'd be a breeze.
But on the day of my experiment, no cars were available, so I walked nearly a mile to the nearest location. I followed instructions to unlock the door and start the ignition. I placed my two cushions on the driver's seat. Then, after lifting, stretching, and twisting to view the rear window, I slowly backed out.
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