Wednesday, May 30, 2012

31 Things :: Story 8 - Transportation

Driving was never a big thing for me – many of my high school friends had cars, and I was perfectly content with them driving everywhere. Even in college I didn’t have a car which proved a bit of a hassle when I moved off campus my sophomore year. However, I could easily take the city bus to campus and that’s what I did.

My junior year in college I studied business overseas in Maastricht, the Netherlands. We were told we could buy a used bike from an old man behind our apartment building. He sold bikes out of his basement, and didn’t speak English which made the transaction interesting. But soon my friends and I were all outfitted with bikes. Through rain and snow. Over bridges and through tunnels. Often with a load of laundry. Once I got caught riding between parked cars and a moving bus. My hand caught the brunt of it, but it’s fun to say I was hit by a bus. It was an adventure.

Trains were our second mode of transportation, and we quickly figured out the complexity of the European train system. One time I traveled solo to visit my German pen pal. Not even a ½ hour into my trip I needed to change trains in Aachen, Germany. Unfortunately I got off at Aachen instead of Aachen West, and just as fast as I figured it was a freight station they closed the doors behind me. The train whished off leaving me behind. I sat down and cried. Luckily there was a train schedule posted so I could see another train would come in an hour, so I waited … and cried some more. My trip took 5 hours, and since I was coming in an hour late I wasn’t even sure my friend would be there to pick me up. But she was, and I was never so happy to see someone! She and her boyfriend ended up driving me home that weekend. I guess they didn’t want to risk me getting lost in the German countryside. Whew.

During my Senior year of college my parents bequeathed me the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme which was affectionately called, “The Timex” because it took a lickin’ and kept on tickin’. It survived an accident and being stolen, stripped & recovered in downtown Chicago. It was reliable, that’s for sure. And it served me well for a few years until I could afford to buy my own car. In 1993 I bought a Geo Prizm, and loved that little car for about eight years.

In 2001 I sold the Prizm to my cousin, and upgraded to a VW Passat that we still own today. I love this car and appreciate the power and control of German engineering. I don’t, however, like the price tag of maintenance. Ouch. That same year Jeff bought a Ford Excursion because it was (and still is) the largest passenger vehicle on the road. He’s like that – the bigger, the better. These are the two vehicles we own today, but unfortunately because of the gas mileage & Jeff’s long commute I’m stuck driving the Excursion and he’s stuck driving the Passat. Neither of us are very happy with the arrangement. Jeff would rather be in a bigger vehicle, and he hates how much it costs to maintain the Passat. I REALLY hate how big the Excursion is, and people hear me complain about it at least once a week. It’s like trying to park a space shuttle.

I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I dream of owning a minivan.
There, I said it.

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