Tuesday, June 5, 2012

So Long, White Shadow or Going Carless: A Social Experiment

In the words of our esteemed governor, "Adios, mofo."

Tony shook his head and made a cringing face as he stared under the hood of my white 1999 Honda Civic, or as I like to call it, The White Shadow. Actually, I've never called it that. Not once. That, just then, was the first time. I tend to come up with great ideas too late.

"It doesn't look good," he said. Tony, a short, peppy hispanic guy, has been my mechanic for years. Everytime I bring my car in he points to it's many dents, scrapes and ghetto paint touch-ups and makes fun of the terrible shape it's in. This time, there were no jokes.

"Your head gasket's blown," he said. "Ooooh," I gravely replied, pretending I knew what he was saying. "What does that mean, exactly?" He went on to tell me that, in summary, the cost of the repair is greater than the value of car.

"Ooooh," I said, this time with a bit more gravity. On the drive home (the car is still drivable for a short time until it inevitably will explode, Macgyver style), I started thinking of options. There weren't many. After all, besides my moped, it was my family's only source of transportation. When I got home, Julie and I talked.

She asked me a simple question: "Why do we need a car?" It was so outside-the-box that it took me a few minutes to actually consider leaving behind the convenience of owning a car. Considering my moped and the DART Rail station literally across the street, I couldn't really come up with a good answer to her question. We don't need a car. At least not for now. We certainly don't need the debt that comes with a new car.

So, our plan is this: For the next four or five months, we will live on a tight budget and put away enough money to pay cash for a reliable car.

In the meantime, we will ride the DART Rail, which Nigel will love. I'm excited about looking at our city's public transportation (the largest light rail in the nation) as a necessity rather than a luxury.

What I'm most excited about, though, is looking at this as a way to simplify our lives.


  1. speaking from experience in dallas and now in brussels...it will revolutionize your life. some for the good and some for the bad. but let me reassure you, god gives grace to the humble. public transportation is a humbling experience.

  2. Sounds like a grand adventure!

  3. i'm so proud of you guys!! our 'social experiment' has lasted 19 months and it sure does change you (for the better). I'm also really excited to read more about your adventures - public transpo avails itself to way more good (and weird) stories than being in your car.