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Monday, November 29, 2004

Why Can't Everyone Be Just Like Me?

I drove my car for the first time in several weeks the other day. I didn’t go very far, the whole driving experience was brief, perhaps 8 miles total. I could barely justify putting the face-plate on my car’s mp3 player, but I did, just because I want to get my money’s worth out of that little extravagance I installed this summer when my radio died and I needed a new system to listen to baseball in the car. There is no baseball on the radio in these grim months so I quickly became bored with my new toy and turned it off. I have never really liked to listen to music while driving.

I worry about leaving my car abandoned for weeks at a time but it always starts right up and runs well after the periods of neglect. A bigger problem than anything mechanical with my car is simply remembering where I parked it the last time I drove. When I do find it I spend a minute or two removing the accumulation of club flyers and take-out menus from the windshield wipers. On this day I had to practically dig the car out of the pile of leaves and branches that had fallen during the last big windstorm. A few weeks ago I had the apartment landscaper hit my vehicle with his leaf blower for a free car wash.

I had to get gas along the way which cost $2.05 a gallon—not that I give a crap how much gas costs. I wish I knew the exact date of the last time I put gas in my car but I think it must have been sometime in early September. I have never figured out my car’s gas mileage but I think a more fitting measure of fuel economy would be to calculate my weeks per gallon (WPG). Most people I know probably can’t tell you what kind of car I drive—if they are even aware that I own a car—but they can sure tell you what my bike looks like.

There is a local business that I frequent one or two times a week. It is run by an immigrant guy who is probably around my age. Every time I am at his place he is there and every time I ride by I see him working. He is open seven days a week and he works every day. The other day I saw him unloading supplies for his business out of the trunk of his brand spanking new Acura coup. Instead of the normal response of thinking “Nice car” all I could think was, “You work seven fucking days a week so you can own an expensive car? Take a day off and drive a piece of shit!” To each his own, as they say.

Maybe you wouldn’t trade your car for mine and I wouldn’t blame you. I probably wouldn’t trade my cardio-vascular system for yours, so we can call it even. I think that you are either a bike person or you aren’t. I think that it is sad that we haven’t done much in this country to convince more people to become bike people. My favorite thing about Amsterdam, what I like more than the incredible architecture, what I think is cooler than the pot bars and the red light district, is the fact that everyone rides bikes. The city is defined by bicycles.

I remember sitting out on the steps of my beautiful town home hotel late one evening in Amsterdam and watching as the late night bike commuters pedaled by. Every cyclist who passed was really cranking, these weren’t people out for a leisurely ride. Ride like that every day and you are going to be pretty fit. One of the side effects of so many people riding bikes in the Netherlands is that you quickly notice that just about every woman in that country has a great ass. Drive a car and your ass just gets bigger.

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