Post 161

Getting Off the Streets: Reflections on Garages

I wish people would park their cars in their garages.

Consider the advantages.

1. Neighbourhoods would be safer, because you’d be able to instantly tell, upon looking out your window, that someone has arrived in your neighborhood who doesn’t live there. As things stand now, there are such a mish-mash of cars and trucks on every street that it looks like everyone everywhere is having an all-night party all the time. You can’t tell who belongs and who doesn’t. I once had an abandoned vehicle left just outside my home and didn’t realize it until the morning it got towed (I noticed and read the will-be-towed warning ticket on the car); I was so used to having cars here there and everywhere that it just blended in. It had probably been there for more than a few days.

2. Visibility would be increased, making it safer for all pedestrians and especially young children. As things stand now, the average driver often has very little notice that someone is in the path of his car (or on his way to being in the path of his car). He can’t see people (or wandering pets) until it is nearly too late. It’s such a shame that many accidents could have been prevented if people just took a moment to put away their vehicles.

3. Visibility would be increased, making it safer for all drivers.
As things stand now, the average driver needs to navigate around a mix of parked and moving cars whenever he enters into any residential area. In some neighborhoods, traffic is confined, due to parked cars, to a single lane, not unlike the mountain-pass roads of South America. Clearer streets should mean fewer accidents.

4. We could continue building narrow streets without hearing from the Safety Hazards People. Narrow streets are really quite cozy, old-fashioned and charming, so I’d rather keep them functioning smoothly and keep building more of them than give anyone an excuse to ban them (for the sake, they will say, of emergency vehicles getting in.)

It’s so often the case that what is lovely and beautiful is compromised in the name of Safety.

And here I cannot help but think of the Hand Sanitizers that seem to have suddenly appeared out of nowhere in order to become almost a permanent fixture at every Catholic Mass. Pump pump. Pump pump. Every Minister of Communion: Pump pump. Squirt squirt.

Killin’ those germs, yup. Don’t want no germs, nope.


Get a life, people!

Didn’t you survive just fine before you had all of these dispensers?

Pump pump. Squirt squirt. Rub rub.

They won’t cross themselves with holy water but they’ll douse their hands with this stuff religiously. Anyone watching a Catholic Mass in North America nowadays would think it’s a liturgical requirement. But hey I’ll bet there are more germs residing on the pump of that plastic dispenser than anywhere in the building. Isn’t it, after all, the object that everyone is touching all the time when they are most freaked out about the Horrid Germs that they’ve got?

Do people really think that church (or life) is about disinfecting the outside of your body? Why are people more concerned about bacteria and germs residing on skin than sin and guilt residing in hearts? Guilty germs? “Bad” bacteria and “good” bacteria? I’m getting sick (of all such nonsensical talk), but I’m not the first one.

Indeed, I see some writing on the wall. It says “Chesterton was here.” How tirelessly he battled everyone whose mind was so shrunken and small. Their only thought? Staying alive a little bit longer.

Sigh. You can’t reason with them, these Lavender Soap Folks. They worship at the altar of Good Health and Lofty Hygiene.

5. People would need to declutter their garages. Right now, a very high percentage of garage owners are using their garages to store everything and anything. Don’t know where to put something? Stick it in the garage. Don’t know when you’ll next use something? Stick it in the garage.

Who is going to clean out your garage, when you finally need to vacate it? Too many times I have heard of busy mothers and fathers leaving their own families in order to help their parents relocate. What a waste of everyone’s time. Suddenly the mounds of earthly possessions are seen for exactly what they always were: junk. Face the facts now. Get rid of everything that you are not actively using. Never mind about Someday and What If. Don’t feel stupid that you bought it. Don’t feel stupid that you thought the world-as-we-know-it was coming to an end and you bought dehydrated vegetables for the occasion. Don’t feel stupid that you spent $60 on a neck cushion for the airplane and then never used it. Trust me: once it’s in the garbage bag, you’ll almost never think about it again. It will be like the boyfriend you once had whose name you’ve forgotten.

God is bigger than your stupidity and he’s got a message for you:

It goes like this: “Don’t stress. It’s okay. You can throw it out.”

Just load up on garbage bags and begin clearing your land. Pretend you’re one of those early settlers choppin’ down the trees, making way for your new life. Imagine: freedom at last, just around the corner – freedom from all this crap that is clogging up your life and making you feel guilty when your only crime was Buying Too Much. It’s time to move on. Ditch the stuff. You’ll feel better.

6. It would reduce tensions between neighbours. As things stand now, the car situation is getting out of hand with the space on the street. Space is at a premium, and in this era where some households have three or more vehicles, things are ripe for conflict, or resentment at least. Those who don’t use their own garages are parking on the street. They aim to park in front of their house, but then when they return home and want to park in their God-given space, they discover, much to their dismay (in the style of the Three Bears from Goldilocks) that Tragedy has Befallen Them. They scramble for an alternative, and before you know it, Homeowner A is parking in front of Home B and Homeowner B is parking in front of Home C and everyone is a Little Resentful of everyone else.


Needless conflict.

So I’m saying, let’s all park in our garages and leave the streets open for the temporary visitor(s).

And speaking of temporary visitors, let’s be reasonable to each other and give some forewarning about Popping In and Popping By and Shootings in general. No drive Bys, please.

7. Our homes and streets would be photogenic again. Haven’t you ever noticed that when you look back upon older photographs, the most noticeable thing about streetscapes is the outdated cars? Look at a photo from the 70s or 80s and you’ll see what I mean. It almost looks like another planet. If we tucked away our cars, our homes and our streets would look almost classic.

The comparison that comes to mind is eyeglasses. I like to encourage people to remove their eyeglasses when posing for photos, because they sit right on the face, and it only takes about two or maybe three years for the fashions of eyewear to change. Today you think you look fabulous in those jumbo black frames, but in probably less than a year, you’ll be mortified that every photo has you sporting that pair. You’ll say, “Oh man! Why didn’t someone tell me I looked so Embarrassingly Bad?” But of course, it wouldn’t be your fault. You were just wearing what everyone else thought you should wear.

As JustOne once told me, the next trend is always Exactly the Opposite of what everyone is doing now. That would mean that soon enough, the thinnest and most delicate or invisible of frames will be The Latest Craze. That will definitely be an improvement, so I’m looking forward to that 180 degree change.

Man, aren’t we a harassed civilization? Everyone rushes to do one thing (it’s cool) and then a few months later, everyone rushes to do the opposite (it’s cool now). It reminds me of that Seuss story about the star-bellied sneetches.

But anyway, my point is that cars, which rarely photograph well in the first place, are best left tucked out of sight.

There’s only one exception that I can think of, but I won’t mention it, because I’ve probably already praised the svelte ‘vette enough.

(The other day I saw someone driving one and I got so excited – it was particularly nice – that I wanted to wave at the driver. Ah, it’s probably good that he didn’t notice me; he was spared the Do-I-Know-You? Awkwardish Moment when I would say:

Hi! You have a car! And I see it’s yellow! And I’m, well, I’m a blogger and one time, well actually I think it might have been twice, I blogged about that kind of car! I mean well I didn’t spend the whole post blogging about that car, because most of my posts are about lots of things at once, which is fine except that then I never know what I said when and I’m noticing you have Exactly the same kind of car that I wrote about! And it’s yellow so I guess you’re not going to be a Catholic priest or a brother ha ha and you probably have No Clue what I’m talking about but it’s an inside joke between me and whoever might have read the post or posts I’m thinking about. And speaking of colours, well, the light has turned green so I guess I’ll keep driving now! Goodbye! Have fun driving your car!)

8. You’d be using your garage for its intended purpose. (I laugh because I almost forgot this one.) You’d be using it as a place to keep your vehicle protected from the elements and from theft. Of course! As for the other post that I wrote, about a world of garages-as-workplaces, there wouldn’t be a conflict. If things in life were adjusted that much, then cars would know their place as well. Those who work from home would be far less wheel-dependent.

Don’t make me think harder than that and remind me of everything else I have written. Who knows? Maybe in the New Medieval Era, vehicles would be foldable and you could fit them into a suitcase when you didn’t need them.

I don’t have all the answers and I don’t know how everything will work out. I just know that they will.