A Kingdom (for Terrible Drivers)

Long ago and far away in a Midwestern state, I used to personally chauffeur buyers in my German-engineered automobile, with open house signs wrapped with blankets in my trunk (so they wouldn’t rattle), and nestled right next to those signs, was a crate, holding all of my “active deal” folders in it.  My car, like most real estate agents in the United States, was my office.

You really do get to know your buyers when you’re driving them around to view properties.  It’s nice. But, often, I wouldn’t get to know my customers via my Office-on-Wheels.  After our first tour, with me driving them around, they’d always say “You know, Heather, we’ll just follow you in our car, tomorrow,” adding some very polite reason for why they wouldn’t like me to drive them, and sometimes, they’d offer to pick me up in their cars for our daily real estate outings.  They’d never tell me that, “You are a terrible driver,” and they didn’t need to.  I knew I was. And I also knew:  they feared for their lives with me in the driver seat—no matter how nice (and clean) my car was or how much they liked me as their real estate advocate.

An ole’ chum posted this recent photo, taken in my childhood hometown, on facebook. I’m not sure if this serves as an Office-on-Wheels for the drivers, but, I do like the way they’ve “Pimp-Out-My-Ride,” Amish-style!

There’s probably some really good reason as to why I’m a terrible driver.  Maybe it’s because I learned to drive in my mom’s old Dodge Horizon, during the winter, often with a horse-driven Amish-buggy behind and in front of me, as I drive-dodged “road apples” that I spotted on the pavement’s horizon, every once in a while…I just don’t know, and don’t need to know the why-of-it-all. Because, I don’t need to drive in order to sell and rent real estate here in Manhattan.  And I LOVE this about my job and Manhattan. It’s perfect, actually.  There’s something completely freeing, to me, about not owning a car—the constant maintenance, always stopping to refill the tank (I hated that the most–just don’t have the attention span for it, I guess); and I, 100%,  don’t miss driving a car, anymore.

Nowadays, if I need to escort a buyer or renter, I’ll hail a taxi or two, or hire a driver, for the day, making the “getting-to-know-you” process so much nicer, for everyone involved.  When I’m alone, I take the subway.  These vehicles of transportation are perfect for someone, like me, who’s an awful driver. The roads are definitely safer without me behind the wheel, that’s for sure. (My kids are thankful, too, often reminding me of my mishaps of driving into a parked car, wrecking into a pile of mulch, and so on.)

However, as much as I love my new modes of transport, this lack of driving a car has held me back in a few ways. One is that I desperately want to rent a car and drive my kids to Maine–to eat lobster, rest by the ocean, etc; but the kids won’t agree, offering another solution: “Can’t we just take a train there or fly?”  “No,” I respond, while adding, “We must drive in a car—to experience it, fully! It’d be wonderful car-trip!!!”  We’ve yet to make it to Maine, so I’ll have to $ave up, in order to hire someone to drive us there for a long weekend escape.  Another example happened just a few years ago when a client’s business manager offered me a very posh, high-paying job in Los Angeles. It was a great opportunity for me (and my kids); but a few minutes, after his offer, and a few lingering seconds of multiple $tars twinkling behind my eyes, I responded, “I can’t. LA isn’t for me… Plus, I haven’t driven a car in three years.”  Everyone knows that you definitely need a car in LA.:  Cars are a must (in many ways), so I’d be out of my comfort zone, to say the least.  And I’d miss the NYC subway, even with all of the crazy MetroCard-riders, who I see every day, way too much.

I don’t know if I could make it anywhere without TRAINing it.

I don’t really talk to people on the subway: I just read or sort out my appointments for the day, and keep to myself.  (It’s become one of many, many kinds of Office-on-Wheels, for me.) But sometimes, when my mind wanders, I do wonder about those strangers, who sit or stand next to me. What’s their story? Where are they from? Are they terrible drivers, too? I know I’m not alone with these rambling, silent questions; and I also know, I’ll never ask them.  Which is why I’m so happy that Alli & Jen introduced me to their video-blog, whyareyouonmytrain.com.

If you live in NYC or just want to travel the subway from your PC, via the experiences of others, check-out their site (which just so happened to be featured in The Huffington Post)!

 And if you walk, drive, train or bus it in NYC, check out: http://newyork.hopstop.com/



  1. Oh, but it’s not necessarily true you need to drive in Los Angeles! I learned to drive only a week before I graduated law school in ’04, and that because my Japanese employer asked at the last moment, “Why don’t we have a copy of your driver’s license yet?”

    Granted, 90% of my transport was between campus and my house maybe 10 miles away. There was a single bus line that took me between UCLA and my apartment in Palms, which was (a) really convenient and (b) afforded me lots of great reading time.

    The other 10% of the time was split between going to shows (in which case, friends tended to drive me back after I took the bus there) and doing extra work. The extra work was easy; I’d map it, do it once, and feel satisfied that there really wasn’t any need for a car . . . after spending 2.5 hours getting to a job!

    I have no illusions about public transportation and my job now. It’s 35 minutes one way on the mornings I don’t have to take Li’l D in. If I were doing it on public transportation? 2.5 hours. I’ve asked about working from home once in a while given that so little of my job requires a physical presence, but no go . . .

    Some days, I really do wish I lived in NYC, although I’ll always remember my mom saying, “Hon, I know you love it there, but you love the year-round sunshine more.”



    • Well, Deb. “If I were doing it on public transportation? 2.5 hours,” I’d probably drive, too (after re-learning how to, of course!). PS. Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

  2. I live in the Chicago suburbs and we all love to drive. But when we go into Chicago, most of us tend to take the train. Suburb and city driving are just different. Glad to hear that you moved somewhere where you don’t have to drive.

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