Why I Don’t Got A Car

Hi, my name is Mark, and I don’t own a car. This is a conscious decision that I have made, not owning a car. It is not that I can’t drive. I consider myself a pretty good driver, having only been in one accident ever in my life, involving only the corner of a small parking garage wall which suddenly LEAPED out at the side of the car and scraped up the door, which of course was in somebody else’s car (sorry Gitig!). I enjoy driving very much, in fact, especially when I’ve got some sweet R&B or hip-hop or electronic music bumping. When I was a youth, I used to cruise through the streets of my hood at night just so I could drive, zone out, chill, and listen to music.
In college, and beyond, (8 or 9 years total) I have been essentially car-less, although I drive other people’s cars now and then, or rent a car to go wine-tasting in Mendocino or drive to San Francisco, or drive the vehicles at my work. Frequently enough so that I can maintain my driving skillz and feed the fix of the open road. But I do not personally own and possess one of these vehicles, nor, in fact, do I truly desire to own one of these vehicles. OK, yes, if I was a millionaire, I would probably have a car or two. But money isn’t the only reason why I do not own a car.
The fact is that I refuse to own a car. That’s right. I’m one of those idealist people, somebody who enacts diminutive changes to their personal lives in order to fulfill idealist fantasies of the way the world should be.
In case you are interested in what kind of insanity I might suffer from that compels me to throw away my social life and all chances at success in meeting hot and successful American women, here are my reasons:

1) Since when did a luxury item become a necessity?
2) I produce a substantial amount of waste simply by shitting every day. I don’t really care to produce any more than that by polluting the air with yet another car.
3) I refuse to give in to the dominance in my society of the greedy auto and oil industries, who basically have controlled and shaped all of our lifestyles, products, and city planning.
4) I don’t even know how to fix the damn thing. I don’t know how an engine works. Why would I want to own this thing that requires constant maintenance and upkeep if I can’t fix it myself?

I haven’t exactly been living in the greatest places for carlessness. I’ve lived in San Diego, Los Angeles, and now South Lake Tahoe, none of which has adequate, integrated, nor extensive public transportation systems. And so my social life has suffered, and I have been at the mercy of others in order to “go out.” Basically, I’m pretty much restricted to the social sphere of where I live and where I work, both of which, right now, are combined. This is fine, this is dandy. But where one lives and works can become restrictive after some time if there are not all that many womenfolk thereabouts.
I need to live somewhere where I can walk or bike to the local market. I need to live somewhere where I will not be stigmatized by attractive women because I do not have a sleek oil guzzling machine. I need to live somewhere where I can hop on a bus or subway or whatever and get to where I want to go! Dammit!
But such is the price one must pay to live according to ideals, no?


Author: manderson

I live in NYC.

23 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Got A Car”

  1. Hi,
    Good for you. I don’t own a car either. I refuse to be an addict to oil. I save 100% on car insurance.
    – Stephen

  2. that is so dumb, a used car is just as bad it polutes more and is not cool, they smell like rotten chese and have no good sterio USED CARS SUCK

  3. Uh . . . .my used car doesn’t smell like rotten cheese. And does every single used car pollute more? More than what? One of them new fangled SUVs? Doubt that.
    In fact, if all you purchase are new cars, you are in fact wasting more than if you recycle all of these perfectly viable used vehicles on the market. I’m a bit incredulous, in fact, by how many people feel the need to keep spending thousands of dollars on new cars, when there are lots of good used cars out there.
    New cars suck.

  4. Hi Mark,

    I’m in a very similar boat, my friend. I know how to drive, and sometimes make use of my license to rent a car when I’m traveling, or have the ability to help out friends and family driving their cars. But I don’t use one in my day-to-day life, mostly getting around by bicycle, and occasionally using public transport, which around Seattle accommodates bicycles.

    If you were willing to move, I would recommend a very car un-friendly or impractical locale, like London, or New York City, or most any big city in Europe. In those places many “successful” people don’t own cars because they don’t need to–and sometimes it’s too much of a bother. Plus, they are more pedestrian or public transport friendly. And consequently, attractive women aren’t likely to factor in car ownership when it comes to spending quality time with someone. They may not own a car either.

    It may be a self-serving justification–but I usually figure any woman (or man) who rejects someone as a potential love interest based in any part on whether they drive a car or not…may not be as much a prize as implied by the first impression.

    Good luck!


  5. An update here for anyone chancing across this post and not having read any other ones: I now live in New York City and have happily joined the hordes of people who are completely car-less! Which goes to show you that big, dirty cities in fact can be much more sustainable and greener than sprawled out small towns.

  6. Just thought i would bring something that perhaps had not been brought to your attention, CAR SHARING! It’s the ability to not own a car, but to have one whenever you need it wherever you need it, and ONLY when you need it. No maintenance bill, no parking hassles, no insurance costs, you only pay by the hour and by the kilometer (or mile for all you U.S.A.’ers out there). Check it out and i’m sure you’ll reaslise this is the future of vehicle use in big cities. http://www.zipcar.com

  7. I am signed up already, my friend–but thank you! I still haven’t actually USED one yet, but I intend to journey upwards outside the immediate environs of this here city one of these summer weekend days.

  8. QUOTE: “2) I produce a substantial amount of waste simply by shitting every day. I don’t really ….”

    That shit returns to the earth and feeds us. The shit that comes out of automobiles returns to the earth and kills us.

  9. why buy a car when someone is willing to drive around for you? no bills no insurance no worries! car sharing with your family is a better alternative than renting a car!

  10. I don’t have a car either. The worst thing about it is that many employers (especially in the entertainment industry) look down on people without cars. I’ve been able to get around LA just fine, even if it takes more planning.

  11. The few times I’ve gone back to visit LA, it seems like the public transportation is better than when I lived there. Now there’s express buses and bus lanes! Who knew.
    Keep keepin’ it real in LA!

  12. I am in the same boat. I can attribute the quick repayment of my student debt to not owning a car. If I can get by without owning a car in northern Manitoba (Canada), where temperatures regularly dip below -40, I think it can be done nearly anywhere. I say nearly, because I know from firsthand experience that living in suburban areas without a car can be a first rate hassle.

  13. I recently caught a train from my home town Camborne to Plymouth and then a taxi to Plympton (4 miles out of Plymouth) for a business meeting. For less hassle and cost less than fuelling up the car and of course annual wear and tear.

    Its the weekly drives that I need the car for and I use the car to pick up loads of manure, grass and other good stuff for the garden allotment I have. i would like to see a taxi accept that!

  14. It’s beginning to come down to a matter of efficiency, really. Cars are getting more fuel efficient and space efficient. And some people are getting more aware that possessing a car might not always be the most efficient (economically speaking and otherwise) means of getting about. For example, in Manhattan you are really just begging to be stressed out if you own a car and have to deal with the daily hassle of streetside parking.
    Sometimes I wish I had a car to leap into and dash away out of the city, but other than that, I’m mostly quite content not to have one.
    But if I lived somewhere outside of the city, I would pretty much have to own one. When that time comes (if ever), then I will pick my car based on efficiency–economy, space, and fuel.

  15. Good for you! I recently went car free and I live in West Palm Beach. It’s not the easiest place to go without a car, but anything is possible with creativity. I lived in Europe for awhile, and owning a car there was the exception rather than the norm. It all depends on what you’re used to; and unfortunately, what everybody else is doing plays on our psyche to the point that we conform. I can beat any car driver to the grocery store on my bicycle. Seriously. The combustible engine is only 20% efficient on average. The other 80% (or 80 cents of your dollar) goes to produce heat. Stay car free. Don’t worry about the ladies. There are plenty out there that see past the flimsy facades of guys (read “boys”) who store their egos in their cars. And the ones that don’t, well, why would you want to be with them anyway? If you don’t want a car, don’t get one. More power to you!

    1. And good on you for sticking with it in a less than ideal location! I’m not worried about the ladies anymore, nohow, as I rassled one of them up for my own. Plus, now that I live in NYC where it’s more normal not to have a car, I feel quite happy getting around on the public transit. Here’s to making owning a car the exception rather than the norm!

  16. I am from Tokyo but now living in a not so huge Texas town. I don’t own a car, and it is very depressing that I don’t have any freedom to go where I want to go whenever I want to. Simply I can’t afford a car, but in a way, it is OK, because I know how much painful to pay auto-loan, gas, insurance, and maintenance. People here think all adults have cars naturally, and if you are an adult without a car, they pretend they cannot see you, which make you feel like you are a second or third class citizen. Now I am disappointed because I had to pay about $3500 for auto-loan of my husband’s car and its repair. I cannot use it daytime, and I use about thrice in a month. I lost all of my savings. See, this happens if you own a car. Goddammit American car society!

    In Tokyo, it is sort of stupid to own a car. Parking is expensive and gas is expensive. You can go anywhere by foot, bicycle, bus, taxi, or train whenever you want to. However, living cost there is very expensive. Ahhh, things cannot be perfect always. In Japan, people don’t buy cars as much as they used to decades ago, so Exxon retreated from Japan. Ha ha.

    I walk 2.5 miles to work every day. Well, of course, I am fit, and I secretly look down upon people who doesn’t know they can walk 10 minutes to the destination instead of walking 5 minutes to the parking lot and drive to the destination.

    1. Wow. Tokyo to Texas. I went from Lake Tahoe to NYC and I thought that was culture shock! I can’t even imagine how you could deal with that transition.

      Go ahead and secretly look down on the folks that can’t fathom a car-less lifestyle: you’ve earned it! It’s hard to live life when you’re running counter to the trends and norms of everyone around you, but if you maintain your integrity, then eventually you will begin to find some others out there that respect and understand what you are doing.

      And eventually–if you continue to live in a non-city–well, you’re most likely gonna have to give in and get you an old beat up Chevy! But there’s no shame in that either. We’ve all got to live our lives and make the compromises necessary to get by.

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