June 17, 2017 will mark the tenth year I have been without transportation. Not owning a vehicle was a choice made after taking a look at how much money I was spending on gas, insurance, and maintenance; not to mention excise tax. All of this added up to a sum that could only be satisfied by being employed. Then I had an epiphany. I was approaching retirement age. I am not referring to social security retirement age. I had been employed for a Fortune 500 Pharmaceutical Company for a number of years and so it was the age of 55 1/2 that I could begin collecting through my retirement plan in which I was vested. And so began my plans to rid myself of the responsibilities of vehicle ownership - thus making it possible to leave the working class far behind me.
|Our very own, Stephen Signor|
In the wake of this new freedom, I found myself in pursuit of an activity to fill the obvious void. This is not where my passion for writing began. Rather, it was when I decided to expand my literary horizons by publishing on-line short stories and entering writing contests with mixed success. To hone my skill set, I submitted editorials to local newspapers. Doing this killed two birds, actually three, with one stone. It enabled me to voice my opinion which resulted in having my own column in the, now defunct, Windham Independent under the Steve’s Peeves by-line; improve my writing ability while establishing my own style that resulted in winning short story contests; and most importantly, expand my knowledge base on a multitude of subjects that appear to be endless and welcome at The Windham Eagle newspaper, where I am now a reporter.
Getting around to where the stories are, can present its challenges, especially during the winter months. But it also has its advantages. While I do ride or walk with the same degree of caution as I drove, I have to admit that not driving affords me more uninterrupted time to prepare for what questions I will ask or what pictures I will shoot when I arrive at my destination.
Riding also has other advantages over driving, when it comes to news gathering. Not being subject to maintaining a speed, the extremes of traffic and roadways in general, affords me the opportunity to react quickly to a situation or otherwise visual stimulus for something newsworthy, that otherwise would be missed. This is not uncommon. Also parking is never, ever an issue.
Obviously, I am restricted by distance, so presently a reasonable radius of coverage of 12 miles has been established. I have yet to have travelled that distance so far for a story, but have for leisure, so I am mentally and physically prepared none-the-less.
While it has been 10 years it does not seem that long. No doubt one reason is - not missing vehicle ownership from day one. I can remember walking home from the dealership feeling relieved, not stressed. But overall it is that everything I do since then requires local travel and now requires more time; something I have an abundance of. This is a welcomes perk and never a burden. We all know riding is relaxing while providing a great deal of health.
I will continue to maintain a valid driving license for the purpose of car renting but vehicle registration is a thing of the past and will remain so. The same holds true for my writing. As long as there are stories that merit covering, I will be there on two wheels.