I just had my Plastic Wunderkar (1999 Saturn Coupe) in the shop for some maintenance. The trick to keeping one’s car lasting a long time is to show it you care no more than 2 times a year. No car washes. Forget ‘regularly scheduled’ oil changes. And the floors? Only vacuumed because I was too embarassed for a stranger to see how messy she was. Well, after an oil change, rotated tires, and a replace air filter (the last one was entirely blackened and came with its very own assortment of debris), she runs like a dream.
While I was at the shop at an ungodly 6:54 AM*, I was discussing with the technician the proper care for my car for the future. You see, as of this June she is classified as a “high mileage car” after celebrating her hundred-thousandth mile. I think this qualifies us for some sort of discount at Perkins, right? The technician asked “How many miles would you say you have put on her in the last year?” And I thought about it, and remembered the sticker I had pulled of the windshield that would have indicated I was approximately 1000 miles overdue for an oil change and then realized my last oil change was September 2009**. 11 months ago. Which means, I put about 4500 miles on the Wunderkar in a year.
Such low mileage on my vehicle, you must be thinking that graduate school makes young adults into total hermits who stew in their home for days drinking stale coffee, eating cheesy crackers, and muttering incoherent absurdities about social theory and the spread of pandemic flu. And you’re right; story over.
Just kidding (kind of). In the last two years, multiple forces have been pressuring me into exploring alternate modes of moving myself- and occasionally my crap- from one place to another without getting into my car. First, the field of public health is filled to the brim with health-food hippies, germophobic liberals, and green planet paratroopers. Which I love. But it does create a lot of interesting social pressures sometimes: eat veggies, not Kit Kats. Work out, don’t watch movies all night and drink your weight in hot chocolate. Bike or take public transit, don’t drive. So I bought a bus pass and that opened up all kinds of new wonderful– I could bus to school, bus to downtown, bus to the store! Then I started biking more and I could bike to work, bike to the store, bike to races! And I moved somewhere that had almost everything I needed in a few blocks radius and I could walk to get coffee, walk to work out, walk to the bar, walk to the tattoo parlor (just kidding!).
As you mostly know, I have traded my urban apartment with “character” for suburban basement living while I am between phases of life and thus have traded my mode of transportation to: the Light Rail! There is a whole lot I could say about riding the train- the people are interesting, the security is sometimes oppressively good, and the train is consistently kept at a frigid 59 degrees. But it is lovely in a million ways! There is no epic, traffic-jam ridden drives, no out of control parking fees downtown, keeps my gas guzzling to a minimum, and I have completed more books by reading on the train than ever before***.
Just bought my first non-student pass for the train. Helloooooooo, cheap and easy commute. Where do I get my green planet paratrooper outfit, hat, and button?
*I didn’t always know there was even a 6:54 AM. I miss school.
** I know, I know, I know, Mom and Dad, that I should be changing my oil more often regardless of mileage. But really, on a scale of Never to Always, my track record for timely responsibility hovers where? That’s what I thought, so this news is not likely surprising anyone.
***Post-grad school spoiler alert: When you finish school you can READ FOR FUN! Did you know that existed?! I had totally totally forgotten…