I recently had yet another conversation with a business associate who contacted me asking if we could arrange a meeting. I was keen to meet with him too so agreed and asked if we could meet close to Manchester Piccadilly station which would be much easier for me and save me messing about with taxis. There was a slight pause before he said it would be much easier if I could drive to their office to avoid the city centre and that they had ample free parking. My reply was “I don’t drive so not much use” a line I seem to be using more and more as my business gets busy. Of course I was met with the usual “ah ok no worries at all” no challenge and our meeting was booked in the diary.
And so I have managed yet another day of not needing a car!!
Now, I should point out it isn’t a lie but it isn’t the truth either because I can drive but I choose not too which so many people seem aghast at.
You see from passing my test at 18 and for a further 15 years I would spend far too much time driving up and down the M6 as a business development manager with clients scattered around the North of England. I still remember the gridlocked days I experienced meaning I could be stuck in my car for hours on end grabbing a sandwich while driving from one meeting to another and the stress of delays calling customers to say I might be a bit late. Of course after so long doing it I knew no different and it became a way of life.
That was until I moved South in 2010 and my driving changed to trains and tubes to get into the city of London where my office was. As I lived in Brighton city centre and right next to the beach I found the car spent most of its time stuck on my expensive permit holder parking space and before long realised it was an expensive asset that was never used and it had to go, so I returned the car to the lease provider and I have never driven since.
When I moved back North in 2017 I knew the transport system was not as practical as living South but was determined to avoid a purchase until needed. After 7 years of not driving the desire to sit in gridlock traffic based on the sheer number of cars on the road, the aggression of people cutting in, car horns blaring and witnessing multiple people on mobiles infuriating me did not appeal and I decided I would buy a car once it became a necessity.
6 months later and I am still without car even though I now have the ability to purchuse, but I find not only am I less stressed than my fellow car drivers but I am much fitter having decided unless I needed to take transport I would walk.
Add the fact every person I meet with who has taken a trip they have a tale to tell of the amount of time it took them to get from A to B and the price of fuel and how stressed it makes them!!
However, what I have discovered is walking is absolutely wonderful for not only managing my anxiety but it is great for staying in good shape if like me you hate the gym and due to injury running is just not possible. On a daily basis I walk to my office which is a good 6 mile round trip giving me time to listen to my music, plan my day and think over anything that warranted a reaction, good or bad. It allows me to see exactly what is going on around me, people watch which is one of my favourite activities and save heaps of money.
Yet so many people are still driving even if only 5 minutes to take the kids to school or the 10 minute trip into the office while paying up to £10 a day to park. And with that comes dead leg and potential weight gain when the only exercise consumed is from house to car on the drive and stuck in front of computers most of the day.
Of course I know I am lucky, not everyone can do what I do because they might have children they need to drop off before work or live rural but for those who are within a commuters reach I can only assume you drive because you are stuck in the matrix like so many thinking driving is normal because we are a nation of car obsessed people. I have heard many tell me they need their car as they visit clients? yet those working in the city manage by using public transport so is it you prefer to drive than get a train or bus?
However, if just a few days a week people left the car at home and took public transport to a sensible walking distance to the office would like me see that driving really does test the patience of everyone on the road and its good to have a break from it.
There are huge benefits of walking and perhaps if people who are not totally reliant on the car due to obstacles they should try it to see if it actually makes the start to their day calmer.
I am not saying I will not have to eventually get back behind the wheel afterall with the iminant arrival of my grandchild a car will come in handy, and lets face it I am in the Northwest which can be brutal in the winter but for now I am blissfully stress free enjoying the wonderful walk and easy commutes into the city without the aggrevation of another driver testing me before I have even started my day.