I like to drive. It was reaffirmed today as I was returning from a conference I was at. It was nice to get in my beat up old Saab and drive for 45 minutes. My antennae is being dumb (please see, Saab: beat up, above) so I just stuck my headphones in and listened to my iPod. And life was good.
It’s a beautiful thing being able to drive. To escape. To get into your car without having to sharpen your elbows for the crowds in Central Station. To sit by yourself and not next to the smelly guy on the train. To avoid the stifling heat that is the pendeltåg. Or to leave when you want to and not have to wait for damn near an hour because of a tidigare signalfel.
That being said, Sweden is doing its damndest to make driving hell. Which I was reminded of as I drove through Stockholm. Somehow, I managed to get tolled twice as I drove through town. Usually once you get in that’s it. But not for me. I was forced through one of the few double toll areas. And once I got there, I of course, at some point had to go back. So I was tolled four times. Granted, I was driving at the non-peak hours so it only ends up being 40 SEK but still. That would really put a damper on my day if I had to make that drive on a regular basis.
Following this I filled my tank and washed my car. I’ve been trying to wash my car on a more regular basis because my washer fluid tank has a gaping hole in it (along with other exciting maladies so if you know a good mechanic in southern Stockholm I’m all ears). Anyway, first I filled up my tank. A cool 850 crowns. For those of you wondering, the dollar is right around 6.1 SEK today. Let’s do the math. 850 divided by 6.1 equals 139.34. That’s dollars. To fill up a Saab 9000 gas tank with about 60 liters of gas. I paid 13.89 SEK/liter. That’s a lot of money. And since I always get my pay check on time it’s no big deal at all (and by on time I mean three weeks late so if you know of a good job I’m also all ears).
Following my fill-up it was time to wash the car. 120 SEK for the cheapest car wash at Statoil. Again, some quick math – about 20 dollars. And all I got was a car wash and a bit of wax. But whatever. It cleaned my windshield and gave me that nice wax coating I needed so I can put off not having any washer fluid tank for a little bit longer.
But even after all this, I got into my car, turned the iPod on and drove on. On my time. When I wanted to. Where I wanted to. Which turned out to be home strangely enough. But despite dropping over $150 today I’m considering driving to work tomorrow. It’s the American way really.
Welcome to Sweden, where if you swallow your pride and open your wallet, you can still live like an American.