The whole driving thing was becoming exhausting—circling my block in Venice in the hopes that a parking spot would magically free up before the next lap, endless hours wasted behind the wheel commuting, traffic, aggressive drivers, gas, stress, accidents, maintenance, car payments, insurance, emissions, tickets, and for many the ever looming threat of a DUI.
Don’t get me wrong, I love cars just as much as any other self-respecting Angelino—or citizen of Earth, for that matter. Car culture is deeply ingrained in our culture; that’s why it’s called CAR CULTURE. In fact, many believe that cars are extensions of who we are—our style, our success, our socio-economic psychographic profile. A vehicle, according to Merriam-Webster, is a thing used to express, embody or fulfill something. They have long been presented in pop culture as symbols of power. Take, for instance, The Lone Ranger and Silver, Michael Knight and Kit, the Bride from Kill Bill and the Pussy Wagon…. Our heroes rely on their cars to fulfill their destinies.
My own love for cars got out of control. At one point, I had accumulated three of them. One was a fully restored ’67 Mustang, my dream car—but, alas, I began to see that I was investing a lot of energy and time in exchange for a questionable return ratio.
The truth is that, when it’s all added up, the costs of owning a personal vehicle are incredible. We try to get those costs down by choosing a less expensive car payment or a car that has better gas mileage, but when more closely examined, the real costs lie in the other areas. When you add the averages for insurance, emissions, tickets, and maintenance on top of your car payment and gas, you’re looking at a total of between $5,000 and $10,000 a year for owning and operating a personal vehicle. That’s a whole lot of Uber rides. (Also consider this time ratio… what is the ROI on vehicle ownership?)
Sure, you say, but what about road trips and longer-term requirements? Well, you would still be saving time and energy by renting as needed (or employing another trick I recently stumbled upon, renting long-term loaner cars from garages).
When Uber hit the mainstream—a personal driver summoned at the push of a button—it was a game changer. I began to use the service when meeting friends across town, especially if there might be drinking involved. It was a convenient way to hop around the city without worrying about directions or parking.
Then began to use the service to go between meetings during the day. This allowed me a much greater sense of freedom and gave me time to prepare for each meeting in between when I would have been negotiating directions and the perils of LA traffic. I thought of it as a luxury at first, but it became more and more of a necessity. I realized that I was way less stressed and pressed for time when using the service. I was able to relax or actually be productive during the commute.
This is not about car bashing or trying to convince anybody to follow suit. This is about examining our lives in order to make a choice that supports our ideal lifestyle and freedom—about liberating ourselves from the cultural constructs around us. Our time and resources might be better served by ditching paradigms that no longer serve our ideals.
Once I decided to let go of the car ownership paradigm, I experienced a great sense of freedom and relief. By tapping into the shareconomy, I felt like I had all the benefits without the burden of ownership. What’s more, I felt like a responsible citizen, utilizing what existed and leveraging the resources available in a responsible way. I love the idea of using assets as needed and not owning or being owned by anything unnecessarily.
I can imagine a paradigm in which we use what we need as needed and are not driven by ownership and wasting time with all the effort that goes into accumulating.
I would much rather spend a few thousand a year on a network of personal drivers than navigate the hidden perils of personal vehicle ownership.