Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Car Comes Back To Haunt Me

Fellow L.A. cycling blogger Bike Girl has been writing about her ups and downs of going a month car free, inspired by others who have, or are in the process of going car free. I'm effectively car free in that I never drive anymore, but still own one. I had made the choice to finally ditch owning it, and renting one for any special occasion that really necessitated driving. But that hasn't gone entirely to plan.

Being the oh so busy bee lately, I haven't actually gotten rid of the car yet as I was planning to do. I've been considering selling it cheap to my brother, but both of us are procrastinators about things like meeting up and paperwork. So alas the car has continued to sit and collect droppings from the sky, both tree and bird. This presented a problem yesterday when I needed to do the weekly chore of moving the car across the road for street cleaning. I turned the key, and doh, my battery was dead.

I didn't have time to deal with the problem just then or I'd be late for work. So I biked to work as I always do, knowing I would return home to another parking ticket. Fortunately, my work has a parking cash out program for commuters who don't require subsidized parking (which certain classes of businesses are required to offer by law in CA). It would take 3 parking tickets in one month to cancel my incentive for not driving to work due to the high value of parking spaces in the Santa Monica business district.

Later, a friend of mine who just got a used bicycle after not owning one for many years drove out to see me so I could take a look at it and diagnose any issues with it on my repair stand. So I asked if she could help use her car to jump start mine. The moment the prongs made the connections between the two cars, a car alarm I didn't even know was installed on my car came back to life and proceeded to make a terrible racket late at night, right by apartment windows. I didn't have any kind of key fob to turn it off, and at the time had no idea how to operate the internal kill switch in the car.

So then a lady from the near by apartment comes down to hover over the scene and interject comments about my "piece of shit" car, which she had developed a hatred for. Apparently since it was dirty and parked in front of her window for two weeks. Just before AIDS LifeCycle, I had received my renewal notification for my vehicle registration, and during the stress of getting ready for the ride I totally forgot about it. So now I am over due by a couple months and need to update it with the DMV. This also came back to haunt me, since the upset neighbor was then pointing it out with the threat to have it towed.

I didn't want to deal with trying to go any further now that I had a car alarm to content with, which quite literally made me feel as though my car had turned against me in retaliation for it's neglect. So I got up bright and early. Not to get in a training ride before work like I was planning to do, in preparation for the MS ride this weekend, but instead to call AAA to help me get my car to a different parking space. I wanted it done and done quickly before the angry lady followed up her brewing contempt with action.

The technician came and jump started the car with his magic portable battery. Then he quickly disabled the alarm with the kill switch, which he showed me how to use. Then I drove the car around in circles for a half hour to get a charge. So now after hours of wasted time, stress, and loss of sleep, I have moved the car to another parking space, and out of eye shot of it's previous home.

I can't wait to get rid of the car, and I now have a new found motivation to expedite that process.

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