This weekend, Matt and I did an experiment: We tried out the local Bilpoolen, a version of the carsharing programs of which we have been members in various places, from Washington, D.C. to Zürich.
Ever since we moved into our apartment, we’ve been passing the two carshare vehicles parked near the Östermalms IP (the outdoor sports complex in our neighborhood). Matt first tried to join a couple of years ago, but emailing and calling the contact person on their website led nowhere. We chalked it up to Swedish service, or that they had more than enough members that they didn’t need us.
After a few recent conversations about how having access to a car might improve our lives, I tried again, emailing the guy to ask about how to apply so I could get a membership for Matt as a Christmas or birthday present. The guy sent me the forms, which I duly filled out in Matt’s name and mailed back. Ét voila, after a few email exchanges, we both became members.
(Which it turns out, wasn’t necessary — both cars are stick-shift and I can’t drive a standard. But I’m getting ahead of myself.)
We got our membership cards in the mail this week, and our pins by email. Matt immediately made a reservation for a car for Saturday afternoon. We were dreaming big — what do you do when you suddenly acquire a set of wheels?
We both love living in the city, with a lifestyle where we don’t need a car — the expense, the headache of parking, traffic, and so on. But as a California girl, where the car is king, I can attest to the power of owning a car, the seeming freedom to go where you want, when you want; Matt can tell you about how much he likes roadtrips and driving at high speeds on highways, how meditative it can be (I agree, sometimes, but especially on the flatlands of Alberta, Canada).
So, suddenly, we had access to some wheels. A joyride in the countryside, maybe to a place to ice skate? Well, it’s been raining and too warm and there’s no ice. I thought about visiting a new museum that’s just outside of town, but they have a bus that goes directly there from the city — plus they advertise that they only have about 200 parking places. Maybe a trip to Lidingö, and a drive across the bridge? But we only know places to go on the island that are accessible by bus or train (public transit, yes — it can proscribe your life and give you options all at once!). Perhaps the classic option: A trip to IKEA?
We did none of the above. Instead, we spent a little time sitting in the car, figuring out how the card systems work for the carshare (and for the cars, which take card keys; the vehicles are Renault Meganes, which Matt immediately dubbed Migraines before we even got into one). Then we drove over to Myrorna, just to see what it would be like to be able to drive over to Myrorna, but we didn’t go in (we don’t need anything!). And finally, we drove to PrisExtra, the discount grocery store only a few kilometers from home, and picked up some plants, cereal and other odd assorted things that would be annoying to carry home on the bus *that stops nearly next door to both the store and our apartment*.
We brought our groceries home, and had some tea, pondering driving around a bit more. In the end, returned the car an hour early.
So suburban, Matt commented. And that’s okay. It’s nice to know we have this resource, for groceries or errands or some kind of an adventure that requires a car. Next time, we just need to plan ahead a bit more.