In our latest student-written story, a chemistry major at the University of Texas talks about his car-free conversion.
By Andrew Hartford
Before I came to Austin, Texas for college, I lived in a car-dependent suburb of San Antonio. During my high school years there, I bought a car, submitting to societal pressure and parental advice.
According to my dad, buying the car was an investment. “You can’t get a job without a car,” he told me. At job interviews, one of the recurring questions I was asked was, “Do you have a car?” lending to the notion that a car symbolized personal reliability and competence. I was under the false pretense that cars meant freedom and that somehow without one, I’d be less attractive as an employee.
I worked long hours at a fast food restaurant, only to realize I was putting my paycheck directly back into the very thing that was supposed to help me earn money. I began to grow disdainful about this costly thing that society seemed to be obsessed with. I felt as though my car was a complete drag on my life; not only having to pay for it but having to maintain it as well.
In addition, I felt guilty that it polluted the air and used up precious fossil fuels that take thousands of years to form. This did not feel like “freedom” to me.
The final straw for my car ownership was when I got into an accident the summer of 2010. Continue reading