What I'm posting to talk about is that this morning was an important milestone in my new urbanite life. What happened? I'll put it behind one of those crazy LJ-cut thingies.
So basically, I got rid of my car. Here's a picture of it I took last year.
Wait, that's not right. Okay, here it is.
Huh. Okay, I thought I had a picture of my car. I guess I was wrong. Anyway, it was a 1991 Chevrolet Cavalier that I've had since 1994. It was a college graduation present from my parents, who are very kind and generous people. Before you fume about how lucky I am I should also note that the car was purchased at bargain rates from a fleet sale at the university where my father works, because my parents are also very cheap people. Oh, I kid, I kid! Seriously, I've had it for ages and it held up remarkably well as these things go. As a former professor-mobile, it had no cigarette lighter but it did have cruise control, which came in handy when I used it to head out west to start my New Life. And when I realized my New Life had certain serious flaws, that car also got me the heck back out of there and to the fabulous metropolis where I now live and work.
Among people I know the Cavalier is kind of notorious for its ability to just keep running; I have two friends who owned similar models which lasted forever under heavy punishment. However, the poor thing did decay over the years. It accumulated a lot of dents (oddly, none of them came from Chicago city traffic), it was starting to rust noticeably, all kinds of non-vital bits had fallen off the dashboard, and there was a colony of spiders living behind the passenger-side sunscreen. At least, I think there was; I never had the courage to check. Now, I could have gotten a brand new car long ago, but the bit about my parents being cheap? The apple don't fall far from that tree, no sir.
I looked up the car's value online a few months ago; it was about $150. The CD player is worth more than twice that. I was getting a bit tired of the good-natured ribbing from my co-workers, and worried that if I ever took it on the freeway it would have a heart attack. But I didn't really get around to doing anything about the issue until, as is usually the case, it was forced on me. Just to add the extra little dash of stress to my life, the radiator cracked the week before I was supposed to get the transplant done. This was just seriously bad and I had no idea what to do and no chance to do it anyway; the cost of replacing the part was well above the car's value.
I shan't bore you with all the running and screaming, but in the end I was able to arrange to have it towed away. I donated it to the local public radio station. Though honestly I would have happily given it to the first person who came by with a tow truck, because the cost of operating a vehicle in this city -- even a paid-off one -- is not cheap. Between renting a parking space, paying for insurance, gasoline, buying all the random stickers the city insists on, and paying tickets for stickers I forgot to buy, it was costing me around $400 a month. The quicker it was gone, the quicker I start saving. Even if I break down and get another car this fall, in the meantime we're talking on the order of $1500 straight into my pocket. Or straight into Electronics Boutique's pocket, but, you know.
So now I begin my car-free life, relying only on my own two feet and of course Chicago's lavishly subsidized network of buses and trains. I was eager to get rid of the old heap and remove one stressor from my life, and I'm glad this issue is finally taken care of. But I have to admit, I do feel just the teeniest bit sad it's gone. I wish I had that photograph after all.