Can I Get a Ride?
You might save a lot of money on car expenses, but you’ll also have a hard time spending that money without a car.
By D’Ariel Myrick, University of Georgia
High school was full of milestones.
For some, it was a first love, and others had their first parties. Everyone’s experience was different, but usually, a major change is getting a license in the middle of SATs and applying to colleges.
But, I’m one of the lucky (or cursed) ones who had a normal high school journey—except minus the license. While all my friends were driving on the weekends under parental supervision, I was taking Atlanta’s public transportation system. By the time graduation rolled around, students were looking forward to cars as graduation gifts, and all I wanted was money from my relatives.
I chose a college that my high school best friend attended, so I knew I had a ride home. I didn’t need a silly license just to prove I was an adult. I had my permit already and knew how to not die on the road when my brother or anyone let me behind the wheel. A license felt unnecessary when I could drive better than some people with the license to prove it. However, since I missed that basic teenage milestone, I must now depend on someone until I get the official card.
Like most things in life, there are pros and cons to not having a license in college, but here are a few reasons why it can be a blessing or burden.
You Save Money…
Cars cost money. Even if your parents cover most of the cost, you are responsible for gas and minor maintenance if you’re away from home. Then, as you get older, there are more expenses coming out of your pocket. You may even have to buy your own car.
Without a car, you can use the money from an oil change for a night out at dinner and a movie, maybe a nightclub, too. Remembering to check your tire pressure and going to pay for air in the tires is never on your to-do list. Also, forget about spending ten minutes looking for a parking space.
You also don’t have to worry about how much gas you’re wasting in traffic. It’s not your responsibility. No car means fewer expenses coming straight from your bank account.
…But You Must Constantly Depend on Others
It sucks to have to call a ride ahead of time and hope they’re available and willing to come pick you up. Also, you are on their time. For instance, if you get a ride from a friend to a club, you have to wait for that friend to be ready to go, or you can just call a Lyft. In either situation, you depend on the driver to get you, which may not always be in a timely manner.
Even an ordinary trip to the grocery store can be unnerving, because you have to find a ride and then try not to hold them up while you buy items. You depend on them to be available to take you, and also accept that it takes time for you to get everything you need.
Sometimes, friends have other obligations, so they can’t wait on you to grab groceries, which can sometimes be from multiple stores. Also, you have to buy more than you might need, because your ride may not be available for a while. Depending on others and their schedules can make small things seem much more challenging.
You Gain Unexpected Skills…
Life can be interesting without your own mode of transportation. Managing day-to-day life can give you useful skills. For example, time management becomes key when you have to be at work or campus by 9 a.m., but the buses only run at the top of the hour. Should you get up an hour early? Definitely. And, you may get some extra work done, since you have to be to class earlier than you would by driving right before 9 a.m.
Because I rode the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) most of my life, I am more self-aware. Anything can happen on public transportation, so you naturally notice more in your surroundings and how you present yourself to others.
For instance, if you’re the type of person to put your belongings in the seat next to you, you should position yourself closest to the aisle, so people cannot just snatch your things. You have to think outside the box sometimes to get from point A to point B without your own car, so it can help build life skills.
…But You Have to Plan Everything in Advance
Small things become bigger without a car. You have to plan everything, down to the time the bus will arrive and when you actually have to be at class. When do the buses stop running? Can I go from point A to point B using the bus system, or do they not go that far? Minor details that a driver with a car would not consider have to always be on the forefront of a non-driver’s mind.
Buses and other forms of public transportation don’t care if you’re late. They move on their own schedule, not yours, so you have to plan ahead for any scenario. For example, a train station may have a ten to twenty-minute delay, so if you leave right on time, you’ll be late. Regardless, the train is not going to move as you need it, so you must consider leaving ahead of time just in case. Planning ahead and according to what mode of transportation you have at your disposal can make or break your daily journeys to school, work or wherever.
I feel like an anomaly by not having my license. I am almost 21 years old, and I still have to ask my friends for rides to work in Atlanta if MARTA does not go that far. It’s annoying and very inconvenient at times, but I am grateful that I don’t have a car, insurance, gas and a host of maintenance to worry about. Although it can feel awkward, it’s okay not to have a license in college. Small tasks may require a little out-of-the-box thinking, but in the end, you still get to point B safely.
P.S. You’re never the designated driver—take it as a win.