Timeshares for Cars

It’s astounding that my 4th anniversary in Chicago is coming up in three weeks. That means I’ve officially not owned a car for four years.

Where I live in Chicago, it makes no sense to have a car. Traffic’s a pain, and parking is lousy — unless you pay $200/month for a parking spot that isn’t even next to your building.

In my first year here, I really tried to avoid taking cabs. But now I figure I’d spend a lot more on having a car anyway, so I might as well not kill myself over avoiding a cab fare if I just don’t feel like riding the bus.

When I switched jobs last year, I knew I’d be traveling to Naperville at least once a week, so I was concerned about how this would happen. At first, I could usually hitch a ride with a co-worker, but now I most often go by myself.

Sometimes I rent cars from Enterprise — just two blocks from the office — where Holly, Sarah and John always greet me by my first name and ask what I’m playing on guitar these days (meanwhile rolling their eyes because they know I’ll bring the car back on empty.)

But if I’m leaving from my house, the best way is to use Zipcar. Zipcars are car-shares, where you pay $50 to be a member, and then you can rent a car by the hour or day — with insurance and gas included in the price. For a girl without car insurance, this is incredibly attractive.

There are Zipcars parked in pairs all over the city — unattended. You simply touch your membership card to a certain place on the windshield, and voila! The doors unlock. They even tell you to leave the keys in the car (and lock it with the card) when you need to park when out and about.

So just now I reserved my little Mazda online, and tomorrow morning I will trot out in my pink trenchcoat, stop for an English Breakfast Tea with a shot of sugar-free caramel syrup and two packets of Splenda at Caribou, jump in my speedy little car, and turn the XM radio to Flight 26. And I will drive to Naperville, while checking my e-mail and writing a document all at once. (Don’t call the cops.)

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