Monday, June 12, 2006

Zipster

I know it's been a while, and I offer a semi-apology for the lapse in postings. But to those readers whose complaints extend beyond the margins of allowance, I have this to say: How much would YOU think about blogging after a weekend of food poisoning and all-day gig obligations? Hmmph! And I did try to post a few times last week, but Blogger was either down or moving with such viscosity, posting was nearly impossible.

Now that that's out of the way... I am now officially a Zipster!

"Wow," you say, "But what does it mean?"

It means, simply, that I have joined Zipcar, which is basically a car sharing/rental organization for the web generation, and thus reintroduced myself, however marginally, into the realm of automobile access. It's a pretty cool idea: There are many, many zipcars, all sizes and models, parked around the city in various lots and garages. A zipcar member looks online, finds available cars closeby, reserves one by the day or by the hour (even minutes beforehand, if necessary), then locates the car, unlocks with a personal zipcard, and drives away. Brilliant. The fee automatically covers gas and insurance, and starts at $10/hr or $70/day (small car during the week). All this adds up to a much smaller pain-in-ass factor than a normal rental.

I'd been thinking about joining for a while now, and finally had the perfect excuse: a Sunday afternoon gig in New Paltz, NY. 90 miles away from my apartment, and 20 miles beyond the reaches of Metro North, and unable to catch a ride with anyone else in the band, I finally found myself in a position of needing wheels. When the bandleader offered to cover a portion of the Zipcar startup costs, I decided to swing.

My first zipcar: Toyota Prius. Going green! A strange and wonderful car, it is. It has a "power" button on the dash to start up, no key turning required; feels more like turning on a laptop. Most controls usually found in button form on the dash are all consolidated into a touch-screen unit in the center, cutting down significantly on dashboard clutter. It's comfortable and spacious. With the rear seats down, it would easly pass the double-bass test. When the car isn't moving, it the engine shuts off completely, and for the first five minutes of driving, you swear it's stalling out. Then you grow to love it. Of course, the pickup isn't exactly like driving a Mustang (or a Camry), but who drives a hybrid to go from 0 to 60 in five seconds?

I picked it up after a Saturday night gig at midnight, and had myself a leisurely drive through Manhattan at the height of weekend nightlife fervor, arm hanging out the window, late-nite WNYC pumping. It felt like such the luxury, driving a car through the streets of the city, blocks flying by, sometimes creeping by, observing the streetlife from the confines of one's own vehicle. To cap it off, I even found a parking spot right in front of my apartment.

During the Sunday drive, I was constantly impressed to see average miles-per-gallon statistics of 40 or greater. And although the pickup isn't a selling point, I noticed a few times that I was doing 80 without even trying.

Just being on the highway in itself was satisfying, although it kicked up a touch of wanderlust. As signs came up pointing towards destinations beyond mine, the urge crept into my mind to drop off the keyboard player and just keep going, following roads based on whichever muse spoke most convincingly at any given moment. Maybe I could extend my rental long enough to make it out to the west coast...

Driving along the Hudson Parkway on the west side of Manhattan, sun setting across the river, I did my best to enjoy my last 10 minutes of motorized freedom before dropping off the Prius (which, by that time, I was completely in love with and wanted to steal) and taking the subway home. Living in a city/metro area where the pubic transport is extensive enough to render auto ownership unnecessary is amazing — way better than living around a city which can't even imagine such a condition, ie. Detroit — and I have stated many times that I don't miss having a car. I'm not entirely convinced of that last statement, though. More accurately, owning a car in the city would be such a headache for a multitude of reasons that this overrides the benefits by far. But being behind the wheel again reminds one what it's like to have the option at the fingertips to just pick up and go, destinations not limited by the path of the train tracks. Options are forever open, go here, go there, come back when I please, if at all. Perfect for the wandering spirit.

3 Comments:

Blogger fotode said...

yep, those cars, NYC is full of them

6:16 PM  
Anonymous JJM said...

just don't return them zip cars late or you get hit with a hefty $25 fine (even if you rented the car for 2 hours)... and ya' only get 125 miles per 24 hours or face extra per mile charges.

9:59 PM  
Blogger David said...

oh, I definitely got dinged for some extra miles. It was a 180-mile trip, completely expected. Beats the hell outa paying for 10 gallons of gas, though.

and I don't return things late, I just show up late.

12:56 AM  

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