Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Being Green isn't easy, 9 years as a one car family

For the past nine years my husband and I have been a one car family. When people hear this they say "Oh well you two work together so it's easy" and then we move on to something else. Our situation minimizes in their eyes because we work similar schedules and work in the same building. As we gear up to become a two car family I'd like to say a few words.

We have never rented a vehicle for convenience.The only times we have rented a vehicle have been when we needed a truck for hauling stuff that wouldn't fit in our car, when we moved, or when we went somewhere that we didn't think the crappy car we owned could handle. Yes, we rented a vehicle for our two trips to Black Rock City, Nevada. We rented a pickup truck for one weekend when we redid our bathroom. We rented something when we moved.

During the nine years that we have been together I have had four different jobs. One of those was across the bridge. Also my husband is on-call 1/3 of the time. He and two co-workers rotate a beeper. This means that my daughter and I have been to work with him at some very odd times. Before our daughter was born I was there on even odder times, usually in the parking lot waiting. You never know when that beeper goes off whether it's going to be a ten minute problem or a ten hour problem. If we are out somewhere and he gets called in, we all go initially. Once he settles it out how long it's going to take we figure out what to do with our daughter and myself, whether we should wait somewhere or go home. Our schedules are similar right now but they do not match exactly, and there are a lot of times when we need to be in two different places.

During the nine years that we have been together we have lived in three different places. Well four to be exact because when we first got together he still had a separate place, but we have had three shared places.

During the nine years that we have been together we have been through three cars. He sold his truck in the beginning of our relationship since it wasn't running anyway. We had my old red Ford Escort Wagon. I forget what year it was but it was known for electrical problems. When we finally traded it in (if you could call it that) that car had no heat and no back window. It was a work of art. In the winter my husband rigged up a converter to the battery and set up a space heater to defrost the windshield. When someone hit our parked car and took out the back window they didn't bother to stop. He took one of those plastic floor mats that you put under office chairs and cut it to size and taped or glued it in place. It held. What was left of back lights were held in place with spray foam. I remember that.

During the last nine years that we have been together 6 1/2 years have not been on a bus route. So if you are thinking "yeah, they just used public transportation..." then think again. We live out in the sticks folks. There is no cell phone service here and until a year ago we didn't have high speed internet. As it is now we have satellite internet that goes out whenever we get a storm. We are about 7 miles from the nearest state road.

I have been known to strand him places, leaving him to find a ride home from a friend or a co-worker. I love him dearly but it has happened.

When our car died two years ago and I had pneumonia it was a rough week of car shopping and doctor's appointments because we had to combine things.

I spent most of the 14 weeks of maternity leave without a car, in the middle of the woods, with a newborn, and dial-up internet. I thought I was going to go crazy. I probably did.

I think in the nine years that we have lived as a one car family we have paid our dues to the environment. We traded in that junky Ford Escort for a fuel efficient Honda Accord and when the transmission went on that we bought an Element because it slides on the snow and ice a lot less. We have made compromises in our jobs, in our social lives, in our education, and in our family life because of the dedication we have had to being a one car family.

Now our daughter is entering Kindergarten. Now the era of being a one-car family is coming to an end. Of all the obstacles we have been able to overcome, the public school system is not one of them. With Kindergarten on the horizon, and the end of paying for full time daycare in sight, we will soon be buying a second car. Our lives will change a lot.

It's been a good ride for the last nine years but it hasn't been an easy one. Time will tell if we miss it or not.
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