In the post yesterday where I mentioned the hemmed-in feeling I get if I don't have access to personal wheels, I made the mistake of using a hypothetical carless Manhattanite as the referent. This was a mistake because any mention of Gotham that can be perceived as negative triggers that weird provincialism that causes residents of the Big Apple who travel to Indiana to bring apples and crackers with them just in case those commodities are unavailable out here on the frontier because... I don't know, savage Shawnee had ambushed the supply wagons in Ohio or something.
"Tam," came the rebuttals, "You don't get it! New York has neighborhoods that people can take the subway to!" which are apparently completely different than heading out West Washington to drive for a mile through Little Mexico without seeing a sign that isn't en Espanol, or an Atlantan taking Buford Highway out to Chambodia for some pho.
The reason I shouldn't have taken the detour across the Brooklyn Bridge is that my point wasn't about NYFC, but about what the personally-owned automobile does to one's sense of time, space, and distance.
Back in high school, our driver's ed teacher referred to the car as "the freedom machine" and it is absolutely true; with their own car, today's teenager has a degree of personal mobility unknown to the crowned heads of Europe barely more than a century ago. Queen Victoria could have hocked the Crown Jewels of England and still not have been able to get to Brighton in an hour, any old time she felt like it.
Most of the human race has lived just fine without their own cars, and having one's car in the shop (or snowbound in the garage) is the very definition of a #FirstWorldProblem, but like any drug, only an addict knows the pain of withdrawal.
As I referenced in my other post, living in a city and working from home, I don't technically need a car in my day-to-day existence; there's a grocery store not but a few blocks from my front door, and the city buses go anywhere I need to go. Nine months out of the year a bicycle with wire baskets is all the vehicle I really need. If I'd never had a car, I probably wouldn't miss it...
But having that Subie out front means that, say, a visit to my friends in Knoxville is only a few hours away from... now. Or now. Or tomorrow. Or whenever I want. As the saying goes, "An American thinks a hundred years is a long time; an Englishman thinks a hundred miles is a long way." Being suddenly stripped of that power to traverse hundreds of miles at a whim, a power you've had so long that you don't even think about how miraculous it really is anymore, is like having Seven League Boots and then having them taken away, or being Superman with a pocket full of kryptonite.