More problem than solution…

This past Saturday, Twitter was determined to serve me tweets from people saying things like “I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t rather use public transportation than deal with their own car.”

I suspect people who say things like this have never lived outside the ring road of a major city or god forbid in a truly rural area, where cars are literally freedom of movement from one place to another or indispensable equipment serving farms, ranches, or homeowner needs. Just try getting on the bus or subway with 500 pounds of horse feed or a ton or mulch.

I don’t have particularly fond memories of my time riding the DC metro five days a week. Maybe that comes from the time my Blackberry got stolen or maybe it’s just the general unpleasantness of dealing daily with panhandlers, delays, track service, oppressive summer body odor, and constantly arriving five to ten blocks away from wherever I really needed to go. By contrast, my personally owned vehicle generally gets me anywhere between 10-100 yards from my destination… and in all my years of driving, I’ve never had the person sitting in the seat next to me shit themselves. Can’t say that about being on the Metro.

I mean people should obviously feel free to take whatever combination of Uber, buses, trains, and subways gets you from here to there, but I’d be hard pressed to think of a time I’d have rather used any one of those means of transportation than my own vehicle. The people who think public transportation is the One True Way are every bit as out of touch with reality anywhere beyond their echo chamber as any other band of fanatical, myopic “problem solvers.”

If you’re so caught up in your one size fits all solution that you can’t see any other possible alternative, I promise that you’re more a part of the problem than you’ll ever be part of the solution.

I’m making a list and checking it twice…

I probably put more effort than is strictly necessary into traveling. Even a million years ago when I was traveling for work on a regular basis, I was the guy who showed up at the airport with a giant suitcase that pushed the 50 pound weight limit for a four day trip. It got exponentially worse when I lived in the center part of the country and most of the trips suddenly because reachable if I were willing to put in a long day’s drive. Then I’d fill the bed of the truck with all manner of stuff that I might possibly need, or more often just things that would make the hotel room feel more like home. If I couldn’t actually be at home, that was the next best alternative.

Seriously, I’d show up at five star hotels, slide into their valet line, and proceed with an unpacking experience that looked like a cross between the arrival of a gypsy caravan and the journeys of Lawrence of Arabia. What can I tell you, I’m believe in my own comfort… and for me, that generally means having the right things on hand whenever I might want or need them.

Here we are many years since those trips of old… but the impulse to take the whole house with me is as strong as ever. That’s why I’ve been working on my Christmas List for the better part of a week now. It’s not a list of presents, of course, but rather my planned packing list.

The list these days is a little different. It consists mostly of dog beds, dog food, dog toys, dog medication, crates, bowels, leashes, harnesses, and then the usual allotment of books, electronics, charging cables, and a few changes of clothes. In other words, mostly things that I could personally live without, but would really prefer not to if it’s avoidable.

This year I’ve gone so far as to have some of the requirements shipped ahead. Yes, thanks to Amazon I have pre-positioned certain dog related items at our holiday destination so we can just fall in on it when we arrive. Then all I’ll have to decide is whether to abandon it in place or repackage it for backhaul. It turns out you can take the boy out of logistics, but you can’t really shake the logistics out of the boy.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to start thinking about the Tetris-style load planning I’ll need to sort out to make sure everything is safely stowed in the truck cab or at least protected from the weather under the bed cover.

Obviously I have no idea how normal people travel.

On a future without the car…

I read an article today that prognosticated the death of personally owned vehicles and the internal combustion engine within the next 20 years. It made many fine points projecting how much safer, more convenient, less expensive, and environmentally conscience eliminating the traditional family car would be. We could all hail them like an Uber, let them drive us to our destination while sleeping or fidgeting with our spinner, and paying a “nominal tax” for the maintenance and upkeep of this new and exciting public service.

It’s an interesting concept, to be sure. Then, of course I look at how well we’ve managed to maintain the current generation of public infrastructure and wonder what madman would willingly give up his clean and well maintained personal vehicle in perpetuity for the joys of the sights, smells, and sounds of public transportation in automobile-sized formats? I’m thinking of the guys I’ve seen taking a leak on the DC Metro and the noxious mix of whatever it is that makes taxi floors so disgustingly odoriferous. Add in the part that one of these marvelous transportation pods might not be available when and where you need one, and it sounds like a real winner of a plan to me.

Look, maybe it’s the kind of thing that would make some flavor sense for someone living in a dense urban environment or those consciously deciding to forgo privately owning a vehicle – a group that already seems largely served by things like trains, buses, taxis, and ride sharing schemes. For those of us who made the conscious decision to live in a rural part of the country, I have no idea how something like this makes sense. The density of pods needed just to get people in my rural county to and from work would seem to be prohibitive at first blush. Then add in the times you need to have something like a pickup truck to haul trash, or furniture, or firewood, or just to make a trip to the garden center and the plan frays even further around the edges. Are there going to be special freight pods that come with even less unit density than the normal passenger pods and how much inconvenience are people as a group going to tolerate to make this concept work?

It’s an interesting notion, but for the foreseeable future is going to be a hard no from me. I like knowing I have a machine only a few feet away that I can climb into and, with a reasonable amount of maintenance and upkeep, transport myself anywhere on the continent at the time and route of my own choosing. I have no intention of giving that up that level of freedom and convenience to feed someone’s nightmare hellscape dream of a “future without cars.”

Policy Changes, or Be on the Lookout: A Catalog of Stupid People

I’d like to take a moment and thank the #2 male, approximately 50 years of age, with a salt and pepper beard, and blue shirt, driving a recent model Scion XD with Maryland plate 5AB2637, for inspiring me on my way to lunch today. First, I need to clarify why I laid on the horn and then saluted you in passing with the appropriate hand gesture indicating how much I appreciated your driving skills. Just so you know, when turning left across three lanes of traffic, there is a generally accepted way to do things. Normally, you allow the vehicle in front of you to complete his turn before you pull around him and cut across his path in order to make u-turn. I certainly appreciated your shoulder shrug indicating that you had no idea why I was gesticulating wildly in your direction. The inability to make eye contact was a nice touch. Maybe I’d have been slightly less annoyed with you, sir, if you were racing to a hospital or even to work. You, however, decided to be a giant douche bag so you could get to McDonald’s. I know this because I completed my u-turn just after you did and watched you pull into the drive thru line (please see attached photo as Exhibit A).

Believe it or not, I mostly don’t care what goes on around me. As annoyed as I am by most people, I don’t go looking for conflict. Unless you’ve done something truly egregious, I’m usually willing to turn the other cheek just because further interaction isn’t even worth the effort, but you Scion XD driver, have finally changed the equation for me and that’s why, today, I am announcing an immediate change in policy.

Effective this afternoon, whenever possible I will be posting the name, identifying details, and a photograph of people whose stupidity causes them to be a danger to themselves, to others, and to the continued survival of the species as a whole. When featured on these pages, I urge all my readers to be on the lookout for these individuals and avoid them if possible. All readers should consider interaction with these individuals to be highly undesirable and a potential hazard to your mental health.This policy will remain in force until I find a better method of calling out these asshats or until I lose interest, whichever comes first. Ladies and gentlemen of the Baltimore-Towson Metropolitan Statistical Area, you have been warned.