Edit ModuleShow Tags

Life on Foot

One man's month without a car in Fairfield County


Live in Fairfield County?

Then you know a car helps, big time. However, it’s not a must-have.

That said, though public transport works, it turns out the best vehicular option for the carless is the “11 Train," better known as: your legs.

My story of “life on foot,” getting to “The City That Works” (for my Stamford job), from Norwalk, (where I live as “One Out Of Many”), arose because my license was suspended for 30 days. No—not from a DWI. Krike! EVERYONE leaps to that conclusion. Email me if you want an explanation…it’s all rather blasé.

However…the fact was I had to pay a fine and endure 30 days of “Making It Work.” “Making It Work” meant a quilt of Metro-North transport; CT Transit bus rides; biking (not without hazard); walking; running; and car-pool transport.

Ask yourself—sans whip—how do you get groceries? If you use a Wash & Fold, say, then, how do ya lug that laundry? If the train station’s distant, then what? Social life: dating, the beach, bookstore, a restaurant/café/bar, or even the library? What of procuring a simple bottle of wine? WINE?!?!?!?

Some solutions, briefly…

Your best friend is the 41 bus, running from the postmodern Norwalk hub to the Stamford Train Station (path here; Norwalk local routes here). The Post Road (Route 1) has all ya need, from Whole Foods to The Love Shack (DON’T ask). At $1.50/ride, it’s cheaper than NYC; a day pass costs $3.

Another option is Metro-North, of course, and as many companies now offer commuter shuttles, getting to the workdesk is easier. That said, my experience of carlessness was simultaneously empowering and infantilizing (a bit funny, too), because I usually preferred my feet over the train.

Ahem! First, though, came humiliation: Explaining to a charming young woman that, alas, I can “meet you here…” (within walking distance of home) for an evening out. Then, the postprandial backpedal: No, I had no wheels, just two bicycle tires.

The solution? She was an understanding young woman.

So I realized what I took for granted: a car is a luxury, not a right.

From now on, when I hop out of my Chevy at Fairway, I’ll remember this scenario: on a Sunday morning, a family of four gets into a cab after overloading the trunk with groceries, then they cram in among foodstuffs within the back seat. They paid someone to drive them home, and had paid for a cab to get there, too.

Yeah. That’s what some of us have to do. It’s the crux: the problem of inflexible immobility. Of course, you are immobile, but—everyone makes it work.

Basically, I stocked up on dry goods (an Everest of coffee; pyramids of canned goods; battalions of eggs; milk; and other sundries for at least three weeks). Buying in bulk saves a lot of scrilla, and basically, short weekly buys included what was fresh and green: spinach, fruits, veggies, etc. I jumped off the bus at the Stop & Shop and stuck them into my backpack every Friday, then walked the mile-and-a-half home.

Such functional exercise is invaluable. It defines urban life: New Yorkers, especially, own the city with their feet; we, usually, do not work the ’burbs that way.

For example, one blazing June morning, I’d run out of feta for my omelet. I had to hit the gym that day anyway, so I ran to the shop, bought some Mt. Vikos, and ran back. Exercise complete, three-and-a-half miles, with detours, then ready to tuck into an omelet.

The experience was a test. Since it was a success, I then decided to stretch things.

A week later, I brought my sweats, sneakers, nano and emptied pack, to work. I left my leather brogues under the desk at closing time, and that day, I ran home—7.2 miles. (Note: I run distance regularly, so I wouldn’t recommend this for everyone!) I stretched a sprawl of Route 1 on a hot, sun-soaked day, and it took me just over an hour.

I could have biked, but honestly, I don’t recommend functional cycling for a few reasons. For one, riding in the road, traffic can kill. Two, though cycling’s brisk, if you’re like me, you enjoy music—and you need a helmet. Unfortunately, with “Fancy” and then “Supernaut” cranked at full, one day I didn’t realize that my gears needed more oil than I’d administered, and I skidded out, hitting pavement (my second fall: and this time, without driving gloves, I scraped my palms).

So I reasoned that I’d rather just give myself that extra hour, avoid getting hit by a car, or be my own worst cycling enemy, and enjoy the cardio.

That is the other carless component: time is a completely different experience. On laundry day (Friday morning), I’d compress my clothes into a beach bag and walk to my Wash N Fold. Often, on the way, I did hammer and biceps curls, then changed the grip to work my triceps with the bag (it weighed 20 pounds). A decent workout and medium-length walk: 300 calories burned, easily. I gave myself extra time, and was picked up by a colleague for work.

Once, a gloriously dry beaut of a Saturday morning led me to three hours of laundry retrieval and shopping. I walked a green little circuit in Norwalk: the jeweler (watch repair); the library for audiobooks; then to the laundry—before that, I’d bought a 20-pound barbell while thrifting, which I put in my backpack. Then I carried my laundry home, stopping only along the way to purchase wine locally.

Later that day, I put my evening duds into a messenger bag and walked to the SoNo station, changed in the restroom (ugh), traveled up the Danbury line, and upon my return, walked home, late, after a lovely evening.

By this time, I realized I enjoyed the challenges of not having a car. And also, my priorities had been organized for me. Need clean clothes? Better walk and get them (or literally take matters in hand; more on that, below).

No groceries? The motto is, “the sooner you start, the sooner you eat.”

Ecologically, benefits abound: I began handwashing garments—Dr. Bronner’s—and with an indoor drying rack, the solar power saved energy, money and generated no excess summer heat; I saved on gas (with a lowered carbon footprint); I was walking, running, biking, exercising, no longer stuck carrying a clump of car keys, and became very interested in uncovering new places around me.

And I was able to remain “connected,” while happily staying disconnected, too. Social media will ALWAYS keep us in the loop (I have an Instagram problem, I readily admit), but I realized that my #fomo greatly declined. Life’s unimportant ancilla were swept away: I rediscovered a (deafening) love of music, leisurely watching tennis and the World Cup, reading poetry, writing and, indeed, sitting and thinking—which are two underrated, quiescent, supremely meditative and sustaining activities.

Let’s face it: we love our cars, but traffic—especially our commutes—are a constant source of irritation each and every day. One irrefutable solution, though, is to just get off the road.

Thankfully, someone helped out by taking away my keys.

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Stamford Agenda

  • Franklin Street Works Presents: “About Like So: The Influence of Painting”


    Stamford, CT  - “About Like So: The Influence of Painting” is a group exhibition that explores how the histories, forms,...

  • Brass and Organ Christmas Concert


    We joyfully invite you to immerse yourself in the Christmas sound of 4 trumpets, 2 French horns, 3 trombones, 1 tuba, 2 percussionists, and a 4,026...

  • The Nutcracker


    It's that time again! Connecticut Ballet's holiday blockbuster, The Nutcracker, is returning to The Palace/Stamford for four performances...

  • Parties at the JCC Center


    A place to celebrate birthdays and special occasions. Be a guest at your own party! The JCC offers a wonderful space for you and your guests to...

  • A BILLION BRICKS 2: LEGO® Trains, Planes and Rocket Ships!


    November 22 - January 25, 2015 LEGO® returns to the Stamford Museum & Nature Center with its grand opening on Saturday, November 22....

  • Sunday Explorers


    Sundays, December 7 - February 22, 1 - 4 pm. (no class 12/21 & 12/28) Winter is a great time to explore the Stamford Museum & Nature...

  • NFL Specials


    Are you ready to spend Football Sunday and Mondays with us at the Whale? Join us for $4 Bud Light Drafts, $8 Signature Bloody Mary’s and...

  • College Football Specials


    Calling all College Football fans! Watch your favorite college football team score a touchdown at Sign of the Whale. Drink specials include $4...

  • Stamford Museum & Nature Center Facility Use


    September 1 – December 31, After 5pm For a truly unique and memorable venue, host your event or meeting on the picturesque 118-acre...

  • Restaurant: Family Night | Stamford, CT


    Every Sunday evening from 5:30PM - 8:30PM Bring the kids to enjoy our Magician, special kids menu, fun for the entire family!

  • Monday Morning Open House


    An advanced workspace, COMRADITY is a GOOGLE-style shared workspace with blistering fast Fiber Optic internet in furnished private and open...

  • JCC Sara Walker Nursery School Registration


    Registration for the 2014/15 school Our Nursery School programs are designed to help children learn in an interactive and playful way while...

  • FAll 2014 Semester beginning - Ballet School of Stamford


    Our Fall semester begins on September 15th in our beautiful studios at Old Town Hall in Stamford. We offer classes for children age 3 to 18. Our...

  • Stamford JCC Vacation Day Programs For Grades K-6


    Chanukah Madness-Wednesday, December 24 Mad Science- Friday, December 26 Sportime U.S.A.- Monday, December 29 The J’s Top Chef-...

  • BU8: DJ Trivia | Stamford, CT


    Come test your Wit and skills with TRIVIA. The top 3 teams claim prizes. Great specials and a great time for those who...

  • Middle School Vacation Day Program - Trampoline Place


    Grades 6 – 8. Spend the day bouncing and having fun at an indoor trampoline park. We will leave from the JCC at 10 a.m. and arrive back at 3...

  • Stamford Museum & Nature Center Facility Use


    January 2 - December 31, After 5pm For a truly unique and memorable venue, host your event or meeting on the picturesque 118-acre former estate...

  • LEGO® Workshop - Bendel Speedway


    Saturday, January 3, 10 am - noon & 2 - 4 pm Build and race a LEGO® brick car. Recommended for ages 6 and up, limited to 40 participants...

  • LEGO® Workshop: Flying Machines


    Build and fly a LEGO® brick helicopter or spaceship. Recommended for ages 6 and up, limited to 40 participants per session. Members: $40...

  • Membership & Fitness Open House


    Try a group exercise class, use our fitness center and pool with your family and friends. Hear about the wonderful programs the JCC offers, and...

Show More...
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular Articles

  1. Breakfast and Brunch in Stamford
    Where to go for breakfast on the weekday and to cure your hangover on the weekend
  2. Stamford Magazine's 5th Anniversary Party
    Bank Street Events
  3. Healthy Hotspots
    Your go-to guide for the top healthy restaurants in Stamford
  4. AmeriCares Airlift Benefit
    Westchester County Airport
  5. Experience Paris
    The Palace Theatre
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags