I love being part of the problem

On March 14, 2012 by Eden M. Kennedy

I’ve lived in California for more than 20 years now and yesterday I was finally able to admit to myself: I don’t ever want to get out of my car.

I was at work yesterday and instead of taking an hour for lunch I arranged to take two 30-minute breaks, one at 12:30 to have lunch, and one at 3:15 to pick up Jackson from school. I didn’t bring a lunch so I decided to go over to the sandwich shop because they’re close, they’re cheap, and they’re fast as hell. They’re cheap and fast because they don’t bother with vegetables. You get meat, bread, cheese, something to make it all stick together, and that’s it. The first time I went in there and asked for lettuce and tomato on my sandwich, the girl at the counter pointed at the menu taped to the side of the meat counter and said, “No.” She didn’t say, I’m so sorry for the inconvenience but we only make sandwiches out of things that don’t bruise when you drop them. She just pointed to a list of meats, breads, and cheeses and said, “No.” NEXT.

The actual point of this story, however, is the fact that the sandwich shop is about 350 feet away from where I work, and I drove to get my lunch. I got in my car, pulled out of the library driveway, turned onto the main road, took my foot off the gas and coasted 40 feet, turned into the sandwich shop driveway, and parked in a spot that had a wonderful view of the bench I would normally sit on while eating my lunch, and you know what? Fuck that bench. Yesterday it was windy and cold and that bench is made out of cement. Did I want to shove my napkin under my leg to keep it from blowing away? No, I did not. Nor did I want a bug to fall into my coke, grizzled pedestrians to veer inappropriately close, or my skirt to blow up and expose my pink thigh-highs to the people staring at me from the warmth of their cars while they ate their sandwiches and wondered what the hell was my problem.

Instead, I bought my Fritos, my Diet Pepsi, and my turkey-on-wheat-with-mayo and then brought it all back to my nice, warm aging-Volvo privacy bubble. I put my soda in my cup holder, balanced the Eastside Branch Library’s copy of Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and Other Concerns) on the steering wheel, and didn’t talk to, look at, or think about any of the strangers on the other side of my tinted windows for 25 glorious minutes. I was so delighted and relieved to finally be vulnerable enough with myself to admit that this was the most relaxing lunch I’d had in years that I don’t think revelation is too strong a word to describe my feelings. For so long I’d felt guilty about cutting myself off from the energy of nature or whatever it is hippies say to convince you to get out of your car, take off your shoes, and let the wind blow ecstatically through your hair. Hippies of the world: I love shoes and I don’t have that much hair, and the energy of nature is unpredictable. As a matter of fact, it smells like jasmine mixed with B.O.

So, sorry all you city planners who spend your lives sweating over designs for usable, friendly, safe public spaces! Tomorrow I might take my car to the beach parking lot for lunch, and then maybe we’ll hit a drive-in this weekend. We can double date with my husband’s truck.

The view from the bench, which I could see just as well through my windshield, frankly.



18 Responses to “I love being part of the problem”

  • Huh. The tomatoes and lettuce on my sandwiches allow me to pretend I’m eating healthy food.

  • I was the same when I lived in Calgary, a city notorious for terrible weather and no ecological standards at all, basically. If you recycle there, you’re kind of a weirdo.

    Now on Vancouver Island you are publicly shamed if you don’t do yoga 20 times a week and ride a bicycle to and from work, grow your own herbs and vegetables and know at least one person doing a juice cleanse at all times.

  • I love my car – I love driving, and I love “parking” – I live in LA, but I feel like lots of people here don’t actually like their cars, they just put up with them.
    My car is warm and cozy and I don’t have to talk to anyone when I am in it (sorry, have to hang up now, I’m going to start driving). A day I don’t eat lunch in it is a day I had to eat with colleagues. If I liked the people I work with more that would not be such a big deal, but on those days I miss the mechanical companionship of my car.

  • “took my foot off the gas and coasted 40 feet, turned into the sandwich shop”

    made my day.

  • I love fritos. I love privacy. I don’t even have a car, because we live in NYC so I have to act like I am in a car even when I am not, in order to preserve my sanity, which is why I have road rage at pedestrians and walk into things sometimes.

  • I have this issue because I grew up in carville. Now I live in a place where people walk and for a long time I did the public transport thing but I drive around like a mofo the last few years. It got much worse when I had a kid–but now SHE wants to drive everywhere.

    I am more tormented with guilt about this. Much, much more.

    It doesn’t even make sense. And I got fatter when I started driving.

    I too love the privacy bubble and when I go to Cali I admit this thrilled feeling of never having to leave my car–all the drive throughs! And those little parking lots in front of every store!

    Damn, all we really need is zero emissions cars. It’s really not *inherently* wrong to drive everywhere. It does make you fatter though.

  • Ooh yes. And don’t forget the radio! I get great pleasure from sitting in the car and listening to the radio.

    But speaking of people hanging out in cars, I do not understand the couples who agree that one of them will stay in the car while the other one goes grocery shopping. I see people all the time in the grocery store parking lot. I hardly ever get to shop with my husband (tag team for kid care) and would be royally pissed if he chose to chill in the car rather than come in with me.

  • I went to lunch with ‘the group’ for years. NowmI live close enough to work to go home every day at lunch. Some days, I don’t even cut on the tv or the computer. Just eat and enjoy the silence. I don’t dare start reading, or I’d be calling in sick every afternoon to finish my book.

  • We have similar feelings about cars here in Ohio. I had to go to Eugene, OR once for a trip and it was during the start of the economic crisis in 2008. I was watching the news and they were talking about how it was their duty to conserve energy and were finding ways to have the whole family ride bikes to soccer practice. I was the only one that thought that they were crazy. I was afraid to tell them that we drive down to the bottom of the driveway to get our mail.

  • I do this every day. It keeps me sane. Quiet reading/eating time in the private bubble that is my car.

  • This post actually made me laugh out loud. Mostly, because I have lived in L.A. for nearly six years now and still cannot get used to the fact that NOBODY walks anywhere. I do not understand…

  • The last seven years I lived in So Cal, I didn’t own a car, I owned a scooter, and I LOVED IT! Granted, I worked from home, so that was a plus, but zipping around on my silver Kymco, weaving through traffic and parking damn near anywhere, JOY. Also, the ride up and down Laurel Canyon was pretty much orgasmic. God, I miss it…

  • I ate lunch in my car while driving. Not quite the same. Have to grab those moments of peace in the hectic day. Took a moment to call home under an oak tree in the shade…in my car.

  • Concrete bench… cement is an ingredient, but it’s concrete. Just FYI. (Sorry, it’s just one of the many, many things my mother taught me that jump out at me now that she’s gone.)

  • Wait. You have a sandwich shop which has no form of salad items to put on sandwiches? Oh that is awesome.

  • I love your blog! You have such a unique writing style

  • You’ve got it. Keep posting- it’s a bright spot in my day. And sandwiches w/ chips could be the best lunch ever.