Perhaps you’ve heard the stories? A person leaves a major metropolitan area and suddenly needs to get a driver’s license? It was me. For years after leaving New York City, I resisted getting a license and a car. But, of course, you could argue that I waited long past when it was prudent; any number of articulate friends and girlfriends thought so.
But I was aided and abetted by life in communities where much of what I wanted was available sans vehicle.
Eventually, one girlfriend did everything but foam at the mouth every time she thought she’d have to drive us somewhere where public trans would not take us. We broke up. Bitter words were spoken to friends. Finally, she suggested that I was mentally affected and couldn’t drive. Warning: never tell me that I’m not capable of doing something. It can have strange effects.
In revenge, I attended a driving school and got my license. Then I began to chauffeur friends around. She began to grind her teeth. Among our familiar friends and associates, she started suggesting that I now had a mania for driving. Having seen the truth, she became a proponent for public trans and moved to New York City, where her every need could be satisfied by three stops on the subway. Eventually, she joined an organization dedicated to finding and mapping disused and abandoned subway lines and stations.
There came a time when she stopped coming up for fresh air, and rumor had it that she had finally found FDR’s abandoned rail coach hidden far below Grand Central Station. From there, she is said to lead a guerilla campaign for the expansion of public rail service.
Last year at Christmas, she sent me a bag full of old transit system tokens and a note saying we could still ride the Canarsie Line together and that I could become her Che in the coming revolution.
But this reunion will never happen. The transit system no longer accepts tokens, and any attempt I could make to jump a turnstile would probably result in a broken hip.
Sorry, Sharlene, you’ll have to start the revolution without me.