left biblioblography: CAR CULTURE AND THE NON-DRIVER

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Well, since my post on the car culture, maybe, as Desi Arnaz would say to his wife, "Lucy, you got some 'splainin' to do!"

So, it's confessional time.

I didn't get my driver's license till I was thirty-one.

Close the dropped jaw. I can explain.

One of the few rites of passage we have in this country is the procurement of a driver's license. That, and losing one's virginity. Rest assured, that DID happen in high school.

Here's the skinny:

I was sixteen, and of course, as per California law, I had to go through driver's ed. We watched one of those horrifying flicks they subject the kids to. Hey, I'm not against it at all. All I know, is that I watched that (and I have a clear recollection of being aghast as they scooped up bloody brain matter from the asphalt), and I told myself, "No way in hell am I going to be responsible for getting someone else killed!"

This isn't to say I didn't drive till the ripe old age mentioned above: I actually did get behind the wheel prior to that. Driving illegally is such a stupid, stupid thing to do. My only excuse (and not a good one at that), is that I was young. As a special note, when I did finally receive a license, in less than a year, it got taken away. Yeah, I am brighter than I look: I'd have to be.

So anyways, in the fourteen years (I'm subtracting the one where I bopped about illegally, until someone stole my car, another story), I encountered a huge degree of discrimination.

And I am not engaging in hyperbole here.

For instance, in California, the ABC (Alcohol Beverage Control) instructs clerks that sell spirits NOT to sell to anyone without a driver's license. So, if you have a CA ID, you're SOL. For those of you unfamiliar with the latter, the CID is AN EXACT DUPLICATE of the CDL, but for the label that states: "This is not a license to drive." The argument being, the CID is easier to duplicate. Of course, I was in "Drinking is a sport" mode in my twenties, which made it irksome, to say the least. But my phobia was still in full throttle at this juncture.

Other forms of discrimination include:

Being turned down for jobs. NON-DRIVING jobs. After all, nobody likes a tardy employee, right? Never mind I was disciplined enough to get there ON TIME (hell, I went through a point in my life, where I was working two jobs, going to school, lived many miles away from job #1, yet I always was on time, no car. The clincher? The lady who was Asst. Mgr. was chronologically dysfunctional, and she lived two blocks away). Of course, I could've lied, but then, as now, that's not in my mental make-up.

People would be surprised when I told them I had no CDL. I had one fellow, a hippy-dippy liberal stoner type no less, tell me point blank: "I'll take you out! I'll help you get a license! You're not a real person if you don't have a license!"

I had a conversation with an Indian fellow at a bus stop, who told me, "In this country, you have no license, you are considered handicapped." Wow, was he right.

When I began my IT career, I moved in with my mom (to save money), and had no car. You can well imagine how my social life sucked. Thanks to American culture (and the insidious, invidious nature of those stupid talk shows), I may as well as have had 'Loser' tattooed on my forehead. I actually had women make efforts to talk to me, flirt, then when I'd reveal my circumstances at the time, I'd be dropped like a hot potato. Thanks, dear Abby!

And here's a kicker: this was as a rule, white American women. This is wholly anecdotal in nature: I am not besmirching anyone here. No broad brushes. I dated two black women in that time of no car and living with my mom, had a pretty Chinese gal interested in me, and met my long-term girlfriend at that point (she's Phillipino), who I eventually moved in with, got my license, and lo and behold! Started getting good jobs! What a shock!

As an aside: in America, we kick the kid out at eighteen (as a rule, not a hard and fast one). Anyone still living with their folks in this country in the 21st (or even the 20th) CE is automatically branded as a co-dependent lackwit. In Asia, however, this isn't looked down upon. I couldn't tell you how it is in Europe.

So, at the time when I moved in with my now ex-GF, she'd help me by dropping me off at work (at first), but later on, began gently pushing me to get my CDL. So I went in, got it taken care of (my record got wiped clean after 5 years), and next thing you know, I became the official driver.

So let's cut to the chase here:
Does this in any way reflect on my manhood? Hell no. Women drive too. Does this make me anything else, besides a bit of a late bloomer in this facet of this culture? Decidedly hell NO.

Because being a loser isn't a state. It's a state of mind. I never allow anyone else decide who or what I am. I do that.

So, till the next post then.


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udonman said...

Ra sorry man if the last time we got into it about cars it came off as me insulting you.

Krystalline Apostate said...

Ra sorry man if the last time we got into it about cars it came off as me insulting you.
You are forgiven, my son. Ten ave marias, & call me in the morning.
I didn't take it that way, so don't sweat it.
I just decided to go w/a different angle than most folks do.
Which I seem to be not too bad at.

udonman said...

cool man if its anything I didnt get my license until I was 18 and here i am the car guy

say no to christ said...

Having a car doesnt make a person a responsible person and being close to ones mother is never a bad thing. I see exactly what you are saying. Propaganda and consumerism come to mind here. Our society makes it impossible to get by if you dont buy their products. Can you say capitalism and imperialism? Oh and I think its a good thing when people dont rely on cars, I am weening myself from mine.