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How to live in suburban Phoenix when you can no longer drive


Although I'm still young, I realize that I get older every day. Funny how that happens! And since I live in suburban Phoenix, I often would think about what I would do someday, when that day came, way in the future, when I could no longer drive. Then it came.

No, I didn't suddenly turn 95, I had an accident many years ago that took away that ability (please don't ask). And during my recovery I found a lot of ways to get things done that you would normally need a car for. And I got an insight into how an elderly person who can no longer drive can continue to live in a "world of cars", like suburban Phoenix, without a car.

If you're pondering this for the first time, I think that I can help. Because that's where you start, in your thoughts. Like most people in suburban Phoenix, I did everything in my car. I didn't quite drive to the end of my driveway in my car, but what I did was close to it. I drove to work, which was four blocks away, I drove to the store, which is two blocks away. If I needed a bottle of shampoo, or a roll of paper towels, I drove somewhere, put them in the trunk of my car, and drove home. Every distance in my mind was calculated in how long it took for me to drive there, my first thought about going somewhere was always about where the most convenient parking was. Can you blame me? This is all I had done, it's all I knew.

Then suddenly I had to figure out other ways to do stuff. Of course I asked friends to drive me, but really, that wasn't what I wanted. I'm a computer guy so I found places that delivered, and delivered for free. I started ordering stuff online and found that the vast majority of what I was getting into my car and walking around stores for was stuff that I could order and have delivered for free. After a while I started to become amazed at people who would take their precious time to go to a store, park in a parking lot, push a cart around, buy shampoo and paper towels, put them in their trunk, and drive home. I started to feel sorry for these people, as this was their life.

I've been working on my fitness, and I decided that walking would be nice. I live in one of the most beautiful climates in the world, where it rarely rains, and the land is completely flat, so I started walking. Then I discovered these big machines that go up and down the main streets every half hour. Then I discovered a Light Rail that would take me from one end of the valley to the other. I also got a nice recumbent trike, just for noodling around, which I use to ride over to the Fitness Center. And then I discovered Uber, and I was fine.

I sold my car last year to a nice young man who was enthusiastic about getting such a creampuff. It was a ten-year-old car with 32,000 miles on it. He got a good price on it, and I got rid of something that had been mostly just taking up space in my garage. It belongs to a friend of mine so I can ask for a ride somewhere if I really need it. So far I haven't needed it. He visits me often and we go get coffee.

So there you go. I will recover and could go back to doing everything with a car, but right now I've lost interest in it. There are so many other things that I want to see than taillights, left turn lanes, and parking lots. There's a great big beautiful world out there, and I've found that other people are happy to drive, and pilots are happy to fly me. I will be fine, and you will be too.

Image at the top of this post: 1913 ad for a Ford automobile, one of them-thar "horseless carriages" - who needs 'em! Get a horse!

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