“Your car was there; why didn’t you come to the door?”

Here are some of the possible answers to this irritating question, always asked in an aggrieved tone. “I was in the back yard.” “I was out for a walk.” “I was out in somebody else’s car or truck.” “I had gone somewhere on the bus.” “I went out on foot to shop and came back in a taxicab.”

And here’s a sample of the responses returned. “But it’s hot out.” “But nobody rides the bus.” “Isn’t that expensive?”

Well; when you don’t have air-conditioning, sometimes it feels cooler to be outdoors (although not always).

And if nobody rides the buses, how come they’re so full during rush hours that they’re standing-room only and sometimes pass by people waiting at the curb because there’s not room for one more person to squeeze on? Just asking.

And Austin cab fares are very reasonable, especially for short rides. Sometimes it just feels good to walk on out to the stores, going with the intention of not buying much. But if the walk back seems like no fun when laden down with grocery bags, a store will usually let you have a free phone to use for calling a cab if you need to, although you most often don’t, since they wait out in the store parking lot for fares.

The other side of the-car’s-there thing is that, when the car’s not there, people assume that there’s nobody home, even though, in a one-vehicle household, one person may be out in the car while there is, in fact, somebody at home. This is a wonderful assumption when those vanloads of magazine-sellers are abroad and sending people to knock on every door.

2 Comments so far

  1. M1EK (unregistered) on February 14th, 2005 @ 11:23 am

    The whole “empty buses” meme exists because suburbanites generally see the far ends of any particular bus route. I wrote on this topic here.

    And we don’t have problems with this in our neighborhood (NUNA) – I wonder why. I don’t think there’s any less pedestrian travel down in south-central than there is where we are… is there?

  2. Rantor (unregistered) on February 14th, 2005 @ 5:01 pm

    There are a lot of wide streets just south of downtown. Haven’t people been killed on Riverside, Ben White, and perhaps South Congress? Certainly pedestrians have been injured on both Congress and Oltorf and many times on Riverside. Don’t even think about crossing 35 and its frontages south of the river; the walkways are too narrow and are blocked constantly by panhandlers of one sort or another. The City will come through and restripe any road or street again and again but leave the crosswalks to fade away into nothingness. The lights are so brief that not even a sprinting able-bodied person feels safe; a person with a stroller or a walking stick tempts fate. It will take the death of a mother with a babe in arms, two in a stroller, and three holding on to get any safe, and enough frequent, crossings on Riverside. What it’ll take on Congress, I wouldn’t venture to guess.

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