In Praise of Those Who Share Their Wheels

Where I grew up, a five-minute drive (an hour’s walk) would take me to school, a post office, the nearest convenience store. Forty-five minutes in a car would get me to music lessons, assuming the weather cooperated. Two hours got me to the nearest city, where decent shopping could be found. Four hours got me all the way to Edmonton, for music competitions and specialized medical care. To get anywhere of consequence, I needed more than my two legs, and my legs were all I had.

Part and parcel of being a kid in a rural area was asking for rides—to the store, to extracurricular activities, to friends’ houses, to school, even, if you managed to miss the bus. We were all used to it, and all our parents were used to the asking. Many childhood memories involve being driven everywhere, through rain and snow and parental exhaustion. It was annoying to be so dependent, but we were all similarly needy, so it never chafed too badly.

Then, all around me, my friends and relatives began turning sixteen and getting their licences. Driving fever hit, and suddenly everyone was blasting forbidden music at top volume, speeding around in second-hand vehicles, thrilled with their new freedom. For the first time, getting where they needed to go was a matter of grabbing their keys and promising they’d be home by eleven.

Everyone but me, that is.

At sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, I was still hitching rides, especially when out of reach of a cab or bus. Visiting my family during the holidays meant convincing some kind soul to ferry me home. Getting to the hospital when I was too weak to rely on a cab driver meant calling everyone I could at inconvenient hours, asking the dreaded question through tears. Socializing with friends who lived on the outskirts of the city meant expecting them to drive half an hour out of their way, much of it through downtown traffic, for the dubious privilege of seeing me. My life, as a twenty-three-year-old urban dweller, is still influenced by my inability to drive. Asking for someone else’s wheels never gets easier, though it is routine and inevitable.

I could go on at some length about the ways being unable to drive makes life harder, more precarious, more difficult to plan, less convenient, less independent. Today, I’d rather focus on the people who answer yes, over and over. I want to honour the relatives, friends, and acquaintances who have driven in all weathers, at all hours, for all reasons. I want to highlight the kind stranger who, discovering me lost and bedraggled during a storm, drove me to my house without any thought of recompense. They have performed this service whether they felt like doing so or not. They have done so without expecting a return on their investment of time and gas money. They have done it, if not always without complaint, then with generosity. The music lessons and emergency medical appointments and shopping trips and singing engagements and social visits have all meant the world to me, and I owe that joy to the people who transported me there.

When someone asks for a ride because they have exhausted all other options, you know they desperately need it. You know it will improve their lives in ways large and small. You know that it is not usually easy for them to ask.

If you’ve been a frequent driver for others, know that you are valued, and needed, and appreciated. We may not always tell you so, but it’s no less true.

It’s easier than ever to travel without a vehicle, but there will probably always be a need for a kind soul with a car.

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One thought on “In Praise of Those Who Share Their Wheels

  1. in a way, I guess I’m lucky in the sense that my parents are around a lot of the time although if they’re not, I can get a taxi to where I need to get to although, I make sure I’ve got appropriate contact phone numbers just in case I need to get to an apopointment or if I’m running behind or I’m meeting somebody at a location. If I need to get to an appointment that is out of town and means travelling further than I’m comfortabletravelling in a taxi I make sure somebody is at least around to get me there whether it’s my parents or somebody else. I was actually talking to a couple of people about the subject of relationships as it so happened and why if the person I was working towards a relationship with if they were out of town at least 45 minutes to an hour away, I felt it wouldn’t be doable because I’d be going up there all the time or they’d end up coming down to me more than I was going up there and one of these friends in particular said to me that I was probably one of her only friends that lived down here and I just put the foot down and said don’t travel all that way just to see me alone when I’m sure there are other friends you could see that live where I live because to travel all that way to see just one friend would be a wasted trip. well that’s how I feel anyway. If I want a lift either to lions or home somebody will always get me home if my parents get me to the admin committee meetings or dinner meetings I’ve always hated asking for things because I’m a proud person but I know I’m not going to get far if pride continues to get in the way. I will however ask you this. let’s just say that blindbeader was the only close friend of yours and you travelled to see her. how far would you have to travel just to see her and would you feel that it’s a wasted trip just to see that one person? I know what I said above was just my personal view but everybody’s different.

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