Cars and the Spirit of Co-op Living: By the way... could I borrow your car again?

Last spring, Geraldine and I threw in the towel on our most recent used car. After spending hundreds of dollars on never ending repairs, the engine cracked a week after we had the brakes fixed!

We agreed we had learned everything the universe possibly had to teach us about driving a succession of worn-out lemons into the ground. So we sat around the kitchen table and tried to budget for a new car. It was possible, but we thought a diet of bread and water for that many years might be a bit much.

What was the alternative, especially for moi, who has to get into Elmira on a semi-regular basis for a little trifle called work? While we studied the Kitchener Transit and United Trails bus schedules, a radical solution gradually presented itself. We have been living here since the fall of 1989, and haven't been too much trouble, so perhaps we might be able to borrow a car, now and again, to help us with work, groceries and other necessary excursions.

In no time, I had a complicated schedule of potential six to eight cars available on any given day! Members have not only driven me out to Elmira, but offered to come out and bring me home! I ended up only used the United Trails bus on Wednesdays. I began to realize how truly remarkable this situation was as I noticed the growing astonishment on the faces of my coworkers. Many of them live out in the country and I am convinced most are more anti-social than they would like to admit. They think the neighbours are too close if you can see them on the horizon.

They could not believe the variety of vehicles I was arriving in. The fact they were all from friends asking little more than topping up the gas tank or the smallest of reimbursement only added to their amazement. I had to explain several times while I knew this was a wonderful and unusual situation, it was not a surprising one; after all, we live in a co-op!

I am sure many of you have similar stories, when you suddenly realize you had more than you imagined, because members of our community are willing to share. Whether it is dealing with an emergency, or allow a friend to borrow an item you don't need for the moment, it makes us all richer.

This experiment of being on the receiving end of the co-operative car pool has ended for us. We have, with the help of a car-wise friend, purchased an only slightly used and not at all bruised 1992 Geo Metro. It's not only young with not many kilometers under its belt and a rear window wiper - its RED!

We can hold our heads high, we are no longer among the car challenged. But as nice as it is to have wheels, living in Beaver Creek is even nicer. Geraldine and I wish to thank the many generous members who have come to our aid during the past year. If anyone needs to get somewhere and doesn't have a car, ours is often idle Mondays, and can be available at other times as well. That's because its a zippy red co-op car!

Note:This article appeared in the March 1996 edition of our DAM newsletter.