I'm one year, one month and two weeks without a car. I have survived. There have been the few occasions when a car at my disposal would have made life a little easier but I managed.
I was back home in West Kerry after Christmas. On the Tuesday after Christmas I railed to Dublin for a new year's eve party and returned to Kerry the following day, which was a bank holiday. Usually when I arrive in Tralee I take the bus to Camp, which is a distance of 20 kilometres and then cycle the final 10 kilometres to West Kerry. But on this occasion I did not have my bicycle with me and there was a waiting time of 75 minutes for the bus.
I decided to try my luck at hitching. Bank Holiday traffic was light and after about ten minutes I felt this hitching operation was not working. I decided to give it another ten minutes and then walk back to the bus station.
At that moment a car slowed and pulled in approximately 100 metres from where I was standing. I was not sure they were stopping for me as there was a shop at that spot. For a moment or two I hesitated before walking up to the car. The woman in the passenger seat opened the window and I, ever so politely, asked if they had stopped for me. She looked at me and said, no. I thanked her and walked off.
I had not taken ten steps when I heard a voice say: 'Commane, you clown, of course we stopped for you'. Relief. I now had a lift right to my hall door and I'd be there before the bus would have left Tralee.
The couple who gave me the lift are friends. I had not seen them in five or six years and just in the instant and circumstances I had not recognised them. What a fortuitous meeting. They were home from Canada over the Christmas. It so happens that it was this couple who introduced me to motor cycling and guided me in the purchase of my first motorcycle.
They were also home to visit a sick relative, whom I also know. For over six months I had been intending to visit the sick person but had never executed my intention. I had all sorts of excuses. I was annoyed with myself that I had not called.
As a result of my hitchhiking encounter I called on the sick man. It was such a lovely afternoon. I was dined and 'coffeed' and delighted to be back sparring with my friend.
The majority of people need a car, especially so in rural Ireland. But in my case the number of times in 2019, where not having a car has thrown up all sorts of opportunities and experiences, that have enhanced my life. Has the modern lifestyle locked us up in little capsules that tend to isolate us from the world right in front of our noses. What do we do? We launch out into social media and do daft things?
There have been days when I have toyed with buying an electric car. It would not take too much for me to be seduced by the motor industry. Over the Christmas holiday I have been observing the number of times I have seen people jump into their cars when they could have done the same journey either on a bicycle or walking.
What they might have missed?