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The freedom of not having a car

I love the freedom of not having a car.

No monthly payments, no ruinous splodges of wonga on the garage card. No insurance, no tracking device, no monthly subscription for said tracking device.*

In South Africa, I drove a RunX, which, I reasoned, was solid and practical and easier to sell than the Fiat I had previously owned. My commute was the stuff of ritual. In the mornings, I would listen to John Robbie on Talk Radio 702 and swear at people who went out of turn at traffic circles; in the evening, I would listen to 5fm or UJ or Yfm and swear at people who failed to respond promptly when the turn arrow started flashing.

(I never bothered to swear at taxis; cursing a taxi is akin, as Shakespeare might have observed, to troubling deaf heaven with your bootless cries.)

In bad traffic, I’d worry that my left calf would cramp up and I’d be stuck, which happened once when I was leaving Sandton City. I’d organise my route to avoid the long queues on Bompas Road and take detours so I wouldn’t have to cross busy traffic. On Katherine, I would curse the metro police for setting up a roadblock during rush hour on one of the busiest roads in the city. I’d pray that there was no load shedding that morning, and wonder when on earth we’d get solar-powered traffic lights.

At work, I’d log on to the road-safety blog to engage in a bit of gratuitous rubbernecking.

Perhaps my South Africanness and desire for expression of the self through four-wheeled transport will reassert itself and I will succumb to the pressure to buy a millstone with airbags and EBD. In the meantime, I’m happy to catch a bus.

* In Australia, motorists still believe in the ability of the Gorilla lock to deter thieves. It’s quite touching.


  • Sarah Britten

    During the day Sarah Britten is a communication strategist; by night she writes books and blog entries. And sometimes paints. With lipstick. It helps to have insomnia.