Friday, May 18, 2012

The Pizza Diaries, Part 5: One Drove Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

I previously mentioned that my marriage suffered from neglect during my days as a pizza delivery driver.  We suffered in other ways as well, from one complicating factor: my husband and I only own one car.

When we moved across the country about a year and a half ago, my husband and I decided to sell his car so we would have one less expense to worry about.  We owned a home, so we were going to have to make the mortgage payment on our old place and the rent payment on our new place, so we cut back on as many non-essentials as possible.

A few months after we moved, our home sold and we no longer had the mortgage payment to worry about.  But we decided to hold off on buying a second vehicle for a few reasons.  For starters, we wanted to make extra debt payments (although we had not yet adopted a strategic plan for doing this); we carpooled to work since my office was only a few blocks from his; and gas prices in our area are always high (about $4.50 right now).  So we figured we’d save a little money by sticking with one car as long as we could stand it.  Plus, my husband’s job pays for a free monthly train pass, and we live near a station, so if push comes to shove, he can always take public transportation for free.

When I took the pizza job, we had to get creative to remain a one-car couple.  We decided to still commute together in the morning, and then my husband would take the train home on the nights I had to deliver.  It sounded simple.  

It sure sounded simple.

But then, about a month after I started my moonlighting gig, my husband’s company moved five miles further north.  This meant we could no longer commute easily in the mornings.  Our area is densely populated and traffic is a nightmare, so an extra five miles in the morning would have added an hour onto our morning commute.  Neither one of us wanted that, so my husband found a company shuttle that would take him from our old work neighborhood to his new location.  This meant we had to get to work about a half an hour earlier, so he could still make it to work on time with the extra leg of his commute.  Most days it was doable, but there were a few occasions when he missed the shuttle and I had to lug him all the way to his job and get to my job later.  In a word, it sucked.

Also, as the evening wears on, the trains around here run at longer intervals.  So if he could not catch the 6pm train because he got stuck in a meeting, he would have to wait around another hour to make the next one.  And then he would have to hop on a light rail to our apartment, which was another 15 minutes.

Oh, and did I mention that I took the pizza job just as the rainy season was beginning?  So not only did my husband get stuck on public transportation many evenings, he had to walk from station to station soaking wet.  

Rainy nights also meant more pizza orders, which meant I would get home later than anticipated.  Oftentimes, I would come home to discover that my husband had not eaten anything since lunch because we were out of groceries, and he did not have a car to drive to the grocery store.  

On these nights, rather than waste another half an hour running to the grocery store and back, we would eat a ten-minute dinner using common household staples: scrambled eggs and toast, soup with grilled cheese, or oatmeal (maybe some protein powder sprinkled in it if we had any left).

Being a one-car couple also put a damper on both of our weekends.  I spent Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights delivering pizza, while my husband stayed at home with no car.  Most weekends, he would do housework and make a late dinner for both of us.  (The pizzeria closed at 10pm Sunday through Thursday, and 11pm on Saturdays and Sundays, so sometimes we ate dinner as late as 11:30pm.)

But even though it is extremely inconvenient at times, my husband and I have sort of fallen in love with only having one car.  Life is just simpler and more peaceful with fewer possessions to worry about.  And we figure that since we got through my pizza delivery gig with only one car, we can pretty much get through anything.  We are more efficient with our time now (i.e. we go to the grocery store every week or two rather than every other day) and we spend very little on transportation costs.  Our insurance premium is $150 per month and gas is less than $200 (since I stopped delivering pizza).  Because we no longer have a car payment, the only other costs we incur are oil changes and periodic maintenance.  

Some people think we’re crazy.  Mostly friends who always complain about being broke, but drive high-end cars with high-end payments.  When I told my family that we only drive one car, I think they all got the impression that we’re destitute.  Or cheap.  But many of them have declared bankruptcy, and not one of them has any sort of retirement plan, so what do I care what they think?

What my husband and I have learned from paying off debt is that it doesn’t happen by accident.  It will not happen without a plan.  It is a marathon, not a race, and sometimes we will have to get radical in order to stay on course.  If we sail past the finish line driving one car, that’s OK.  We want to finish together anyway.

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