My Week Without A Car

blue-carI know, not a lot of activity in the last year. I wrote four books so that took up a wee bit of time.

So I went a week without a car.

It sucked. But it will get easier.

My car died on Friday and while not unexpected, the timing was bad because I had a few car related errands to run. That’s how I discovered the car was dead. I got into the car to run those errands last week and the battery was dead. A battery that no longer holds a charge, failing brakes, a small exhaust leak and the need for new tires are just the things I know about. It’s not practical for me to keep the ten year old car running when I hardly drive it.

The Good
I rode my bike to work and I did all my “don’t have to carrying anything heavy” errands on the bike. Trips to the bank, library, hardware store and chiropractor were easy errands.  I mainly use my car for trips in lousy weather and for groceries. If pressed, I can go other places on foot or via public transit.

The Bad
The car dying was unexpected which meant I could not get my no car infrastructure in place. I have a bike trailer but I was storing it at my brother’s place and it got packed up when he moved to Europe and I have no access to the storage unit.  I have a folding grocery cart that is falling apart. The wheels keep popping off which is not a huge deal in the parking lot of my apartment building because I can fix it, but the possibility of a broken cart is disaster in the making when using the bus.

I managed to do all my errands on my bike this week up until about two hours ago, when my back tire went pffff. Again. The second flat tire in three weeks. So I had to finish my errands on foot, pushing my bike and carrying groceries. Grumpiness ensued.

The most difficult thing for me was groceries. I probably spent four hours this week doing groceries. I live about 5km (round trip) from the grocery store and it’s a two bus ride so it’s faster and easier to bike.  I had to carry everything on my back and milk crate on the back of the bike, which was more annoying that difficult. Straps digging into you and sudden shifts can affect your balance.  I also got caught in the rain once. More grumpiness.

I don’t like buying a few groceries here and there just because the grocery store is not on my way home or close by. If I lived a few blocks from the store, then I would buy a few days worth of groceries.  I prefer to buy two weeks worth of food in one 90 minute errand. Without a car, what took me four hours this week, netted me half my food for the week, and, well, took four hours. Also, with a car, if a store is sold out of a particular item, I can get it somewhere else fairly easy.  It was irritating that my choices were limited. I had to balance less choice with get on the bike again and bike to another store to find the item.

How I am Going to Get Around?
I joined the car share in my city! My application to the car sharing service was delayed because of a glitch getting my driver’s abstract (driver record). I hoped to have access to a car this weekend but alas, not until next week.  There is a car about a ten minute walk away and another one near the bus station I use when I ride the bus.  I can also book online 24/7 with a PC or smartphone.  Right now, not including maintenance, my 2005 Toyota Echo hatchback costs me this:

Insurance = $66/month (I live in Ontario)
Gas = $30/month
Parking = $40/month (I know, crazy that I pay more for parking than gas!)
Total $136/month

I don’t think I will spend more than $30/month on the car share so that’s an extra $100+ in my pocket each month. Sadly, last winter I was paying the cost of car ownership and a $100/month for a bus pass (parking is very expensive at work). I think I can still bike some days in November and then come December 1st, I’ll have to buy a monthly bus pass. Boo!

All in all, I am up about $100 a month.

What I Learned
Doing errands, especially in cooler temperatures, takes a bit of planning.  Lots of layers and Kleenex for sniffles.
It’s not all or nothing. You can still live without a car but still use a car. You can join the car share, rent a car or use a ride service if you feel comfortable about your safety using that type of service.
I managed to get stuff done this week without any access to a car. Next week I will have access to a car (based on availability) and this means the hard part is over and the added bonus is that I don’t have to worry about insurance, maintenance and parking!

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A Big Shot

big-shot-ideaI wonder if things would be different if I was an executive, a leader, rich, powerful, A Big Shot.

Would people return my calls promptly instead of not at all?

Would I move to the front of the line?

Would I have to repeat myself less because people pay attention to the wisdom and brilliance of a Big Shot?

Would people lie less to me cause they are a little afraid of the repercussions of misinformation?

Would my quirks and idiosyncrasies be touted as innovative and cutting edge?

 

Perhaps it’s time to treat everyone like a Big Shot?

I Stink!

skunkSo when you’re looking for meaningful work, you face a lot of down time, rejection and plain old weirdness and that can be quite the bummer. To keep your spirits up and to keep yourself from descending into madness, you can perform social experiments to pass the time. Because if you spend hours and hours and hours looking for a job each day, eventually the only social experiment you will be participating in is a psychiatric evaluation.

 

I bring up the subject of stinkyness because lately I have felt very much like I stink. In the metaphoric sense. So part of this post will be a rant about really unprofessional HR people.
If you are a professional HR person, please ignore my rant.

 

Rant About HR Douchebags

It’s been really really REALLY hard to not get onto social media and call out the unprofessional HR people for their despicable behavior. By despicable I don’t mean not giving me a job, but I mean mind boggling examples of douchebag like behavior:

* We are going to contact everyone we interview to let them know, regardless if they get the job or not. Don’t say it, if you don’t mean it. I call that lying!

* The job is Monday-Friday from 8-5. Then when I get to the interview, The job is 24/7/365 shift work. If you were given the wrong information, at least admit it and apologize. I won’t hold it against you if you were given the wrong information but I will be annoyed if you use bait and switch tactics.

* Leave a phone message at 4:30 on a Saturday afternoon instructing me to call your cell phone anytime. I did not get the message until Saturday night and I cautiously defined anytime as anytime during business hours. So I called back Monday morning at little after 9:00 am and you were on your way to a meeting but yes you would call me back. And then you didn’t. So I left two polite messages and hung around waiting for you to call. It’s been three weeks and the job is no longer posted so I get it, you aren’t interested in me even though you called me. By the way, I won’t be doing business with your company now. Yeah, I was a potential customer.

* Post an entry level job at Christmas, interview a bunch of people multiple times, and then not hire anyone and re-post the job five months later.

I understand that these examples are all RED FLAGS but going through the process of learning that these time consuming experiences are red flags, is not a day at the beach. Unless the day at the beach involves being eaten by a shark.

After a while you really start to doubt yourself and think, man do I stink.

 

Maybe I Need to Stink?

With the cool weather and a non-existent spring, I am going a little crazy with itchy skin. Buckets of lotion, quick five minute efficient showers, humidifier, limited swimming and still very dry skin. I switched to a basic soap in the winter and it did nothing for my itchy skin.

So I thought, maybe I should give up soap for a week. Then I can write a slightly entertaining blog post about life without soap.

Since I did not want this social experiment to include e-coli, I washed my hands with hot soapy water after I did germy things. To avoid soap temptation, I removed the soap from the shower and put it in the medicine cabinet. Just water and a wash cloth for scrubbing. I still used shampoo for my hair cause my hair is pretty gross after riding around in a bike helmet for more than fifteen minutes.

I was sure this experiment would fail and I could sit back and search the thesaurus for all kinds of adjectives to describe my musk.

Nope. After a week of obsessive sniffing, I did not stink.

I was shocked. I smelled about the same, perhaps slightly better. After two days my skin stopped itching. NEVER has my skin been so soft. I still reeked after exercise but I always reek after exercise, and I always have a quick shower after exercising. I scrubbed myself post 60 minute bike ride and lo and behold, I did not stink.

To figure out how my soap free skin would react to shaving, I shaved one leg with lotion and rinsed and the other leg with just water and alas, my skin was just as irritated as it is with soap.

So what now? Waiting for warmer weather to test my soap free existence. Stay tuned!

 

 

Conversation in a Boardroom of Any Canadian Broadcaster

DuncecapLarry: You know what would be awesome!

Curly: What?

Larry: Putting our shows on our website.

Moe: Yes! People want to watch their favorite shows on their schedule. If we don’t put our shows on the internet, people will go to illegal streaming sites and watch the show for free with no commercials. Or just download them.

Larry: And we can generate revenue by showing commercials.

Curly: Going to OUR website to watch a show means that the viewer gets a reliable stream, AND they also don’t have to deal with annoying popups and potential malware.

Moe: And we get viewers who have canceled their pricey cable TV services.

Larry: I think it would be super super SUPER awesome to show the same commercial over and over and over again. Really send the message.

Curly: Yes! And make sure the only commercials we air are not only unoriginal but annoying.

Moe: It’s a slam dunk. I see absolutely no flaws with this plan.

Larry: Why thank you Moe.

Moe: No THANK YOU Larry.

Curly: I am spending my big fat bonus right now.

5%

qeustions-askYears ago, for some insane reason I saved all my notes from high school. And hauled them around from apartment to apartment for years. For at least a decade.

I have no idea why I kept my notes because the general theme throughout my schooling was  room for improvement.  Not only did I have a compulsion to keep my notes, I kept notes that proclaimed that I was a terrible student.  There were no A+++++ reports or awards of merit but assignments and tests filled with many, MANY red ink comments that were often longer than the actual assignment.

I even kept an essay that netted me at 5%. Yes 5%.  Naturally a teacher who was actually interested in teaching would have at least inquired about my interpretation of the exercise since it was obvious I completely misunderstood the assignment. I went to school in a small town and everyone knew that this teacher was going through a nasty divorce and I guess she took out her frustration on me. I suppose I should be grateful as there was a time when teachers just beat children with a ruler if they failed to understand a lesson.

Eventually I came to my senses and took the notes I had (and some stored at my parent’s place) and dumped them into their kitchen wood stove. Yes a little part of me wanted to dump the 5% teacher into the wood stove but you can’t get everything you wish for in life.

If 5% teacher were to read this essay she might find the following insights/themes:

  •  Adults can be assholes.
  • Some assholes happen to be teachers.
  • Don’t let asshole teachers ruin learning stuff for ya.

AND of course,

Clutter is bad.

My Day Without the Internet

scissors-outageMy internet provider experienced a service interruption so I had no internet until about 5pm yesterday. I seldom experience an outage so it was not a big deal. I don’t own a smartphone so no connection at all for me.

How did I survive? It was fine. I did not fall to pieces without the internet for 10 hours.

 

 

 

Wednesday is laundry day so I did laundry.
Listened to some records.
36 minutes later brought laundry upstairs and placed on drying rack.
Did groceries. That was the hardest part of my day as it was very hot outside.

Went to the library to pick up an audiobook. I did log into a 15 minute internet use PC to ask my brother if he had internet (we have the same provider), he didn’t so that’s how I knew it was an outage. My  connection at the library kept conking out on me and it’s not my job (anymore) to fix the library’s internet so I only used 9 of my allotted 15 minutes.

It was very hot outside and threatening to storm (damn, it never did) so I stayed indoors and watched some documentaries I got from the library.  I will admit I wanted to Google something that was mentioned in one of the documentaries but instead I wrote it down and Googled it later.

I had to get the weather forecast and news from the radio.

I finished my book. Started some book reviews.

Dropped off my car at mechanic’s and biked back home.

By then the internet was up and running and I checked out a few blogs I like and listened to some tunes and placed a few more books on hold at the library.

All in all it was not an unpleasant day. I am glad that I have not developed a dependency on the internet, just a curious attraction.