Friday, June 15, 2007

How I Learned to Drive

Last Monday marked a momentous occasion, one that a year ago I would have said would never happen: I drove my SUV in New York City. I had every intention of bidding a fond farewell to my vehicle the day after my graduation and trading it in for a 3X2 metro card.

And then I found this job that made me so excited that I wanted to jump out of my chair, raise my hand, and say "pick me, pick me!" I didn't, but I thought about it. It's in.....New Jersey. So I began researching commuting options. The possibilities on deck were New Jersey Transit or living in Queens and driving over the Triborough and GW bridges. Neither seemed to work well. Both commutes were too long and too expensive. The Queens option in particular was tough - I spent a whopping two and a half hours getting home after my interview. And then to add insult to injury I got a $165 ticket for parking in front of a pedestrian ramp that was not marked and that I could not see in the dark.

Because I sat on the GW for a good amount of time (and I mean truly sat, as in did not move an inch) I had plenty of time to look around. And I noticed something: these lit up boats crossing back and forth. They easily made five trips from one side of the river to the other during my idle time. What were they and where were they going?

I got home and spoke with my friend, Heather, who informed me about the ferry that takes people from midtown to several stops in New Jersey. New York Waterways. I looked them up and it's a ten minute ride from midtown to Weehawken, NJ, and then a half hour drive from Weehawken to the company's corporate head quarters. I couldn't believe it! I felt like a great big present with a giant red bow plunked down and hit me right on the head. This was an unbelievable and delightful discovery.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg had just announced that anyone driving in Manhattan below 86th Street will be subject to an $8 / day charge. This is meant to alleviate congestion and cut down on pollution, two issues the city desparately needs to address. I discovered that the best way to drive in New York City is to find a way to not drive at all.

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