Cars move too fast; modern life is fast and hectic as it is — we need to slow down, not speed up. Cars get into traffic jams, reminding us how tediously unpleasant modern life can be at times — how annoying it is to find yourself in the midst of a cacophony of honking and shouting and cursing and boiling tempers and to see the pedestrian strolling at his leisure on the sidewalk.
Cars are noisy, with a bad kind of noise, the noise of hurry — just compare the graceful and dignified clip-clopping of a horse with the impersonal vroom-vrooming of cars. Cars drink gas greedily. Cars pollute the air we breathe. Cars crowd our streets and injure pedestrians, to say nothing of cyclists. Cars crash into each other or into other things and pucker up into ugly metal wrinkles and spray the ground with broken glass.
Cars kill people: 1.3 million every year, 3,287 every day. Cars injure or disable between 20 and 50 million people every year.*
People need cars, of course, for a hundred reasons which both of us know so well that I won’t even take the trouble to enumerate them. Although I dislike cars, I have to admit that they are indispensable, or at least have become so in our modern age. Without cars the world would be much more static, and there would be less progress, and we would not enjoy the comforts we have, and living in some places would be perhaps unsustainable. There’s nothing inherently wrong with cars.
But I think there is something wrong with the Buy-a-Car-If-You-Can-Afford-One Club. I don’t think that just because you can afford a car you should buy it. Cars are not harmless. They burn a fuel which is unsustainable, pollute the environment, come with high maintenance costs, damage property and people, and can kill others, even yourself.
I don’t know what the situation is in other countries, but in Romania, there this silent craze about cars — parents borrow money from banks to buy their children cars as soon as they turn 18 (when they can get their driver’s license), upstarts buy the most expensive cars they can buy to show off, well-to-do people change cars every few years, usually going for bigger and more expensive models each time, and families living in the city, near public transportation hubs still buy cars and keep them parked before their apartment building, taking up precious pavement space.
Neighbourhoods are crowded with cars, the traffic in Bucharest is painful, road rage is unavoidable, and streets which were never really designed for so many cars are filled up with cars which are parked wheel to wheel. For many people, cars are a symbol of their status. They think that if you own a car, you’re somebody. Hence, the bigger and more expensive, the better.
A sensible person who would like his children and grandchildren to have a planet to live on, and who moreover considers the inconveniences that cars cause their fellow citizens should think twice, even thrice before buying a car. “If I live in the city, do I really need a car?” “Is a car such a necessity for me?” “Would I and my family suffer without a car?”
If so, then may that person buy a car that is safe and environmentally friendly, and may he or she enjoy it. But if the true reason for buying a car is to keep up with the Joneses, or show off your wealth, or look cool, or try to make up for a small penis, or for just fooling yourself into thinking that your perfume is too good for the bus or your clothes too stylish for the subway, then may you suffer a mild car accident on your way to the car dealer’s and suffer no physical injuries but come out of it somewhat traumatized and consequently shun cars for the rest of your life.
For my part, although I can afford a car, I am resolved to live without one. I don’t really need a car and I see no reason why I should walk less and pollute the environment besides. For writers and artists, walking is a most excellent mode of transportation, which encourages ideas and reflections, and when more speed is required, or distances are long, the subway, the bus, the tram, or occasional taxis can help us reach our destination in due time while giving us the opportunity to be around people, to observe them, to be inspired by them, and perhaps even to interact with them.
Of course, I do not know what will happen in the future. A car may become necessary for me, just as it is for many people. Should that occur, however, I will politely ignore the beckoning of the Buy-a-Car-If-You-Can-Afford-One Club and head instead to those sensible drivers in the Buy-a-Car-If-You-Really-Need-One society. I hope you don’t think it presumptuous if I urge you to do the same:
Don’t buy a car if you don’t really need it! Being without a car in the 21st century is cool.
Do you own a car? Do you really need it?