Saturday, January 29, 2011

Car Free in the Middle of Nowhere.

Living in rural Minnesota, without a working car is not a hardship. I thought it might be, but like my ancestors, who lived on the plains of South Dakota, I make do.

I am lucky enough to have an apartment on the main street of the little town I live in. It is in the middle of the block and the only drawback is that my trash dumpster is in the middle of the block. To take out the trash, I walk down the stairs and half-way around the block to take out my trash. I don't create much so it only happens once in a normal month.

I do own a lemon of a car that my daughter purchased from a fly-by-night, auto dealer in a city 45 minutes away. She had nothing but problems with the car and against my better judgement, I paid off her loan when she needed a larger vehicle and once again became the owner of a car.

I live above the clothing store, am within a five minute walk for my job, two drug stores, two hardware stores, two appliance stores, the grocery store, Radio Shack and all three coffee shops in town. We also have a little transit system that takes me out to the college campus if I need to go there.

As my apartment doesn't come with a parking place, my car usually sits in the city owned parking lot behind my apartment building. My car never gets used and so the battery was always going dead. I have purchased a battery charger and a device that disconnects the battery from the car so it doesn't discharge. Keeping the car insured, licensed and running is not an inexpensive proposition.

The other consideration of not using it is that the oil breaks down and the last time I used the car to drive 60 miles, the engine made a really bad noise. It felt like it lost compression, and I had to spend $150 to get it towed back to its parking place.

One other consideration I have is that because I live in the upper midwest, it is cold, snowy and icy at least six months out of the year. Usually by the time I walk around the block, scrape off the windows and start my car, I can be at work or where ever else I need to be. I rarely get outside of town and if I do I pay my friend Pearl to drive.

I will have to do something this spring about the car. Usually the police call me at 3 am to tell me to move the car out of it's 24 hour parking spot when they need to plow the parking lot. There was a new policeman this year and nobody gave me a call. They towed my car and impounded it. It is only a $100 charge and no daily fee (as of yet) but I will need to take responsiblity for it soon.

I think not wanting to have responsiblity for it is what made me not want to buy it in the first place. Yet, another one of those gut feelings I should have listened to.