I sold my car five years ago today. I drove down to my local garage at lunchtime, handed over my car keys in exchange for a fat cheque, and waved goodbye to the world of driving. It felt good, at least until I realised I now had to walk the two miles back to the office.
I sold my car five years ago. It was my first and only car, and I'd had it for just a couple of years. It had four wheels and an engine, and it was blue. I'd only bought it because I had to, because it was a requirement of the job I'd been doing. But this was my last day in the job, and I wasn't sorry to see it go.
I sold my car five years ago. I was living in a Suffolk village at the time. The village had only five buses a day, at times more useful to pensioners than commuters. The local shop was a tiny post office which sold sellotape and 7th birthday cards but not milk or bread. The nearest supermarket was too far away to reach on foot, along rat-run country lanes I'd never risk walking along. Without a car I'd have been isolated and starving hungry.
I sold my car five years ago. I gave up the opportunity to drive wherever I wanted whenever I wanted. I ceased hurling myself along fast rural roads in a fragile metal box. I abandoned my private bubble kitted out with blaring hi-fi and a glove compartment full of barley sugars. I willingly surrendered my independence, speed and comfort.
I sold my car five years ago. I stopped having to fork out hundreds of pounds annually on petrol, and hundreds more pounds on insurance, and hundreds more pounds on servicing and repairs. I stopped having to hunt for an appropriate parking space, and risking extortionate fines if I couldn't find one. I had to start paying to use public transport again, but overall I saved an absolute fortune.
I sold my car five years ago. Nobody thanked me for my selfless action. Nobody gave me a certificate honouring the reduction in my carbon footprint. Nobody cheered when I stopped clogging up roads with three empty seats everywhere I went. No passing car drivers flashed their headlamps at me in deference to my greener lifestyle.
I sold my car five years ago. I recognise that this was only possible because I moved from Ruralsville to BigCity. But now I live somewhere where not having a car is the norm, and where sitting next to people on buses isn't sniffed at. I may have less freedom than before, but I also have less hassle and more money. Being car-free has made my life more carefree. And, I have to say, I wouldn't have it any other way.