Friday, December 08, 2006

Slowly slowly

At the International Friends meeting – where I help out with an English language class for the Polish community (and others too), we were learning about jobs. Right at the end of the class for a fun activity, we were doing charades – acting out jobs so that the other people in the group could guess what we were doing.

Andre, one of the Polish men, picked the card with “Joiner” written on it. Quite of few of the men there are in the building business, many of them joiners. I think Andre might also be a joiner. He began his acting out by pretending to light a cigarette, smoke it for a while, drink a cup of tea and then knock in some nails! There was no haste involved – but the job got done eventually.

I think that the people who are repairing my car are cut from the same cloth. Despite making arrangements to pick up the car last Friday, they finally collected it on the following Wednesday. It now appears that I won’t be mobile until next Wednesday – two days (the original estimate of when I would be back on the road) has turned into something much longer.

I have been walking back and forth from school and to mid-week church meetings and I can safely say that the novelty has worn off! I might be accumulating some Weight Watcher bonus points but, to be honest, I walk at such a slow pace – particularly on the homeward journey – that I am probably not earning that many extra fro the time involved!


Mark H said...

I realise that we're all different. There are a number of things I love about walking/cycling for local trips, which you are free to not agree with :-)

(In no particular order)

1. It gives me time to pray. I'm not mad-dashing from here-to-there, and so I have time to think things through and to really commune with God.

2. I get to bump into people. This is especially good when I walk-commute at the same time each day. I get to see the same people and stop for the odd chat, especially those on my doorstep who I might otherwise never see. Conversely, my little tin box is about as anti-social as it's possible to get.

3. It's good for my health. Whereas taking the car is not merely "neutral" to my health - it's actually bad for it.

4. It's not detrimental to the environment.

5. In the winter, it can be quicker to walk/cycle than have to de-ice the car first. As car congestion worsens, this ratio will improve still further.

6. It's cheaper. It's free! I can spend that saved money on decent shoes, a decent coat, and a decent bag, and still be quids in!

7. Short journeys are not good for wear and tear on a car. When the engine is cold: the rate of wear is high, more fuel is burnt, the battery isn't getting much of a charge, the interior gets damp by my ingress but doesn't get chance to dry-out, more acid accumulates in the exhaust and doesn't get chance to be blown out properly ...

8. I never have an unplanned extension to my journey because there's no petrol in the tank.

9. Daily moderate exercise, regardless of number of calories burnt, actually stabilises the appetite. This is especially noticeable in the winter, when lack of exercise puts us into "hibernate" mode - eat loads and do very little.

10. I have more energy, feel less lethargic, and a greater sense of overall physical well-being. This is also important to my weight-control as I tend to be a comfort eater.

There are admittedly some down-sides:

1. I don't always feel like it. Especially if the weather is foul (although if it's snowing, you're better on foot). I will admit to occasionally taking the car if it's pouring with rain.

2. I sometimes have more stuff than I can comfortably fit in my bag. But a bit more planning goes a long way!

3. There is no third downside that I can think of ;-)

If Sue didn't work in Dingwall, then we'd only need a car to get the PA equipment into Mojo's on Sunday morning. If we didn't need to do that either then we could get rid of the car and with the money saved we could afford taxis, first-class travel on trains and planes, and to hire a plush new, fully maintained by someone else, car for occasional trips / holidays (and probably still have change in the bank). The culture that says we all need our own cars for personal transport is ridiculous for most (not all) of us, and it gobbles up our money, as well as our health and fitness, the environment, and destroying community.

Having said all that, we'll be taking the car as a family for a local journey this evening, because sometimes we're lazy and don't stand by all of our convictions all of the time :-D

meljkerr said...

1. I am far more comfortable praying while sitting down in my front room. I am losing prayer time because of all the wlking!

2. There are very few people along my route at 7.45 am to talk to. I go that early to avoid walking with the pupils – if they are messing about – which they usually are – I feel it’s my job to tell them off and it makes for a unpleasant walk. (ditto if I get the bus in)

3. I concede that it is good for my health. I suppose that even slow exercise is better than none – although the man at the health club doesn’t really think so. He thinks it is only effective if you break out in a sweat – I don’t want to arrive at school in a sweat!

4. There is a lot of dropped litter around – that is not your car drivers! So walking may not always be good for the environment! I am not the one dropping the litter by the way.

5. It doesn’t take that long to defrost the car and at eight in the morning the traffic is not heavy. But go five or ten minutes later and it is lightly worse!

6. I agree that it is cheaper to walk and I have saved at least a week’s worth of petrol this week.

7. Short journeys are not good for wear and tear on a car – don’t forget that I am car illiterate! This all may be true.

8. I frequently make unplanned journeys. I pop around to friends for coffee, or take people out for walks or the kids to playgrounds. I give lifts to people waiting at bus stops, lifts to people to or from church or midweek meetings! I am an unregistered non-profit making taxi at times.

9. All this exercise makes me want to eat more and I only have a limited number of points to play with!
10. At the end of the day I am totally done in. I am more inclined to phone in a takeaway meal because I don’t feel like cooking!

There are some definite down-sides:

1. It rains a lot! Although I have a brolley – one gust of wins blows it inside out!

2. There is a limit to what I can carry. We have these wonderful plastic boxes with lids – enough to put in a class worth of jotters to take home to mark – you can’t carry them two miles comfortably!

3. On the homeward journey I have to hang around for half an hour to give the pupils a head start. If I catch up with them…I t is back to having to tell them off for misdemeanors or worse! I can’t do that at the end of the day. That means that I get home almost an hour later than I would do!
4. Shopping! This week we have run the fridge, the freezer, the fruit bowl down to almost empty. Big shops are money saving, but require the boot of a car to transport. Little shops that you can carry work our much more expensive!
5. I have hired a car for a week while visiting relatives – it would have worked out much cheaper to drive down in my car and pay for an overnight stay in a B & B, rather than the air fair, the care hire, the petrol and the sleepless nights wondering if some hooligan is going to throw a brick through the window of it and having to pay the excess on the insurance bill. Not having the car at all is awful because the bus system is horrendous and costly, and all the folks that could give me a lift are actually in work. Just because I am on holiday doesn’t mean that they are.

I don’t use my car for just personal transport! It is another tool that I can use to serve people.

Mark H said...

> I have hired a car for a week while visiting relatives – it would have worked out much cheaper to drive down in my car

That's only because you already have a car! If you didn't have one then you could afford to hire one every now and again, and still save loads. Your car costs you a thousand pounds or more per year when you factor it all in - maintenance, replaceable items, depreciation, tax, MoT, insurance, petrol, possibly interest on a loan.

> It is another tool that I can use to serve people.

Aha! So anybody who is walking or standing at a bus stop is some poor downtrodden person who needs a lift, not somebody who has made a personal choice! Cars are useful tools, but our culture's dependence on them stinks. It really does. We think that if somebody doesn't have a car then they are poor. We get status anxiety over our own cars too. It really is horrible.

Although we're on very different sides of the fence on this one, I trust that this has been a light-hearted conversation. I certainly see loads of humour in your responses. You obviously love your car and I don't desire to upset you over a tin box. You know that I own a sports car too, so I'm not exactly anti-car, just amazed at how our culture makes us dependent upon them needlessly.

It upsets me to see you so genuinely distraught to be without the car for a week or two, and I thought I'd help by pointing out that it's really quite easy, and beneficial, to cope without it 90% of the time. But maybe that's no help at all. Sorry.


meljkerr said...

“Aha! So anybody who is walking or standing at a bus stop is some poor downtrodden person who needs a lift, not somebody who has made a personal choice!” I don’t force them into my car at gun point, you know! They can refuse the lift if they want to – but mostly they gush with thanks seeing as I don’t charge them bus fare, and I don’t travel around the back streets stopping every two seconds!

“It upsets me to see you so genuinely distraught.” – I think “genuinely distraught” is too strong a phrase. If I have come across as distraught I am not a very good writer! I expect cars to have repairs and things, I just don’t expect garages to take their time fixing them. It is not the loss of the car so much as the procrastination of the garage that irritates me.

And so close to Christmas too!

Mark H said...

I can be a right numpty sometimes! Forgive me. Keep up the goodness revolution offering people lifts in your car.