I don’t enjoy driving anymore. I have lost sight of the ideals of freedom found on American roadways.
Somewhere on the long stretch of road of my 45 minute morning commute from Russellville, those images of freedom sank behind a rolling hill. Those fantasies took the backseat in my Jeep to the truth about driving in America: it’s simply necessary.
When I first started the commute, I found it somewhat invigorating and exciting. I wanted to explore the ways of the long-distance daily commuter.
I bought a coffee tumbler with a lid for my cupholder, my sunglasses became fundamental to survival, and I started the long process of programming my radio.
What I didn’t understand then is that a vehicle is a monster. It demands to be fed and maintained like an addiction. When I’m in my car, I’m surrounded by things that will eventually and inevitably cost me money, and all the while the odometer ticks closer to engine failure.
I commute to save the money I’d spend on rent, so at least gas prices are kind of cheap. However, there is a suppressed thud somewhere in the back of my mind that tells me I’m driving the planet to death. My carbon footprint is enormous, I’m sure. Like most of us, I try not to think about it too much.
Something else is demanded from a commuter. It’s more than the gasoline or oil my vehicle consumes, although it isn’t a renewable resource. Last semester I spent a total of 7.5 hours a week just driving to campus and back. That’s staggering. It’s almost 8 hours I could have spent doing anything else.
Sometimes I wonder about all the other cars around me on the highway. How many people are stuck on commutes like this? It’s a little overwhelming to think about how much life is wasted just trying to get where you’ve got to be. But hey, it’s necessary, right?
While it might be one of the facts of American life that you’ve got to drive sometimes, I don’t believe it’s necessary to live so far away from school or your workplace. So if you’re thinking of joining the ranks of long-distance commuters of America, please reconsider. I’m already looking for a place in Bowling Green for the fall.