I am officially reliant on public transportation. Accidentally. Don’t get me wrong. I love driving. So much freedom. I can get in my car and go anywhere I like whenever I want. It’s an amazing feeling and something I have grown very used to over my seven years of driving in the US. But here, it’s just so expensive. And mostly a pain in the ass to try to drive around in Stockholm. Plus they just added a toll getting inside the city limits. Trying to force people to use public transportation. And I do.
Earlier in the summer I had a premonition of this happening. I just didn’t realize how strong it would become and it was before I had a car here so it didn’t seem like such a big deal. My parents needed directions to a store and I told them what bus to take not being able to explain how to drive there. But at that point I hadn’t been driving around at all so it seemed justified.
But it wasn’t until yesterday that I realized just how reliant I am on public transportation. I was giving directions to our apartment and immediately found myself explaining how to get there using only public transportation. Which stop to get off at, which way to walk, all the basics of a public transporter. And then I was told our guests were coming by car. And I was taken completely by surprise. While, I feel confident in my abilities to give driving directions it was just such a shock that I ended up only giving my address and pointing them towards the trusty Eniro Kartor website for directions. But now after this episode it seems like I am just a changed man. And I’m not sure I like it.
This incident came just a few days after having taken the car down and back to southern Sweden for the second weekend in a row. They explained to me how they also liked taking road trips. I was dumbfounded. It takes five hours to drive down there. Maybe six. That’s not a road trip. Hell, I can almost make that on one tank of gas which means there’s not even a reason to stop. But driving more than a couple of hours seems to constitute a road trip in this country. Silly Swedes.
Swedes don’t understand when I tell them the beauty of driving. Actually, Swedes living in Stockholm don’t understand. They try to argue that there is always a train or subway or bus on its way. But what if I want to go now? I mean right now. Then you wait for the train. And we use the commuter train. Which has a nasty habit of being late, cancelled, or running irregularly because we aren’t included in the main subway line. And there’s also the business of summer and holiday times when the train comes maybe twice an hour. I have things to do. And these things involve me getting places in a timely fashion. Which is what a trusty car can do. In my case a Saab. Of course.
The next argument is usually the importance of the environment. But honestly, I’m not that concerned. I drive because I like to and it gets me places quickly. Here in Stockholm, I drive less because of the negative impact on my wallet and because it’s a pain sometimes. Not because of the environment.
Plus there is the whole idea of things being so much bigger in the US. America is big. There is a lot of space there. Sweden is not. It’s the size of California. Granted, California is a solid sized state. But it’s just that – a state. We have 50 of them. It takes time to get places, and time usually means using a car to cut down on some of that time. Swedes can’t grasp the concept of how big America is and the reliance on cars to get us places unless they have spent a good amount of time in the states. Most have not.
Finally, it devolves into some sort of pissing match and Americans are called wasteful and lazy. Maybe, but we get where we want to be and we do it quickly. And that’s why when I finally move back to the US I intend to drive 3 minutes to pick up a gallon of milk at 2:47 am. Because I can.