Was the Automotive Era a Terrible Mistake? – Nathan Heller @NewYorker

Really thought provoking article from Heller

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For a century, we’ve loved our cars. They haven’t loved us back.

Was the Automotive Era a Terrible Mistake?

The summer I was eighteen, I visited a parking lot forty-five minutes north of town and got behind the wheel for what I hoped would be the first real rite of my adulthood. I was tall, gangly, excitable. Less than a week earlier, following a brief stretch of test-taking at the Department of Motor Vehicles in San Francisco, I had received my learner’s permit. Learning in those days seemed easy. Tests were easy. Doing—when the matter arose at all—was hard. Behind the wheel, I made a show of adjusting the mirrors, as if preparing for a ten-mile journey in reverse. I surveyed the blank pavement ahead of me and slowly slid the gear-shift from park into drive.

Cars had been my first passion. As a two-year-old, I’d learned to recognize the make of vehicles by the logo near the fender or perched on the hood. I grew to understand the people in my life according to their cars; I learned what sort of person I was from my parents’ two old Hondas, one of which, a used beige Accord, I had gone with them to buy. My father’s lingering bachelor vehicle, a rotting yellow Civic, needed to be choked awake on dewy mornings, and I’d performed that job with relish, pulling out the knob beside the steering wheel, waiting a long moment, and pushing it back. This was the late eighties. Gas prices had fallen, and the roads were knotty with cars from across the world. I no longer remember what, as a small child, I envisaged for my future, but I know that it involved moving at speed behind the wheel.

Was the Automotive Era a Terrible Mistake?

Read on

Related – The Ford children loved racing toy cars



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