A guilty displeasure

Reuben MeesI feel guilty. I’ve taken to driving again and it’s been over two days since I’ve walked anywhere at all.

I’m not even getting in a halfmile perambulating to and from work and general downtown locales.

Considering in recent weeks, I walked sometimes two to three miles in a single day, that’s a lot of exercise I’m missing out on.

And for what? So I can drive a car again?

While driving can be relaxing — on rare occasions — I really don’t want the burden in my life.

After taking what could have been one of the most embarrassingly nerve-wracking driver’s reinstatement tests in history (and nearly failing because I had never practiced backing my stick shift Honda and had not driven it at all in over four months) I’m less sure than ever I really want to drive.

By the time I had finished backing up and ending not quite parallel with the course (although I didn’t take out any cones) my left leg was shaking uncontrollably as I held the clutch in — so bad I had to throw it in neutral while we discussed getting out on the road and taming the bad habits adult drivers tend to fall into.

Fortunately, the examiner, Amy Jo, was a darling and who helped relieve the jitters I hadn’t felt since a few weeks after my 16th birthday.

As I suspected, I was docked a few points for sloppy driving most adult drivers are guilty of, but I managed to squeeze out enough points to meet the 75 percent standard. I was, however, at 91 percent knowledge of the laws on the written test when the machine cut me off from answering further questions.

So, apparently, I’m barely good enough a driver to be on the roads to begin with.

And I haven’t even touched on the $54 I spent to fuel my not-quite-empty 15-gallon tank with $4-agallon gasoline. I even jumped at the chance to pay that price given a late week 8 percent rise in the cost of a barrel of oil.

After a Saturday drive to a friend’s house out in the country and a Sunday canoeing expedition at Birchbark, my confidence in my ability to drive has resumed.

But still, I’ve got this nagging feeling that I honestly don’t want to drive anymore. I don’t want to spew carbon monoxide fumes from my exhaust anymore. I don’t want to pay an hour’s wages for a quarter tank of gas, or less as new prices dictate.

I want to walk and I wish more people felt the same.

But to many people’s credit, over the past several months being without a license, I have seen more people than I ever recall in Bellefontaine walking or riding bicycles to and from destinations.

My biggest regret is that it took me and so many others so long to recognize this. After all, if we had started cutting our reliance on automobiles many years ago maybe the prices of gas wouldn’t be so high today.

And maybe we wouldn’t have this guilty displeasure looming like a sooty storm cloud on our economic and environmental horizon.