Cajun Tomato’s NYC 100: “No Drive City”

This is the 23rd installment of Cajun Tomato’s NYC 100, a periodic look into life as a new New Yorker from yours truly. Today’s dispatch is called “No Drive City”. You can read previous installments here.

On New Year’s Eve I met a native New Yorker in his twenties who informed me he did not know how to drive a car. He’s never had to learn because he lived the majority of his life in New York City. I told him I was the opposite, having grown up in rural parts of south Louisiana. My entire adult life has consisted of driving experiences, both short and far. Just this August, I drove more than 2,000 miles from Portland, Ore., to Chicago to south Louisiana. The open road is an enticing mistress.

In three months living in NYC I’ve driven a grand total of three times in the city. Each time I drove for an HBO series promotion in the SoHo area. My big takeaway: Learn how to use a car horn in lower Manhattan and you will go far. I mixed defensive driving techniques drilled into my head by my driving instructor Cap’n Ron, and some aggressive shit I learned from playing video games like Crazy Taxi, and somehow I survived unscathed.

I am not pining to drive in the city again. Not for a while, at least. I’ve grown to love the subway system, a few grisly incidents not withstanding.

Imagine paying a flat fee of $104 per month to get around. No gas. No car insurance. No oil changes or dreaded car repairs. That’s the subway system – an unlimited card for $104 per month. Efficient and economical.

Back to not driving: It’s carried a negative connotation for me since my now-deceased grandfather had to relinquish his ability to drive a decade or so ago due to Alzheimer’s. The disease robbed him of his ability to remember the directions from a local gas station to his house. The disease, in essence, robbed him of his freedom. I equate driving with freedom so this remains a scary thought.

Yet, NYC is not the mountains of North Carolina, where my grandfather lived, nor the bayous of south Louisiana. There’s a subway stop on every other corner. And, if I ever get the urge to drive, I can always rent a BMW for $16 per hour. NYC’s legion of taxi drivers better watch out!

Cajun Tomato’s NYC 100 will return Wednesday!

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