You don’t need a car, do you?
Public transport is actually pretty good in the United Kingdom. Sure enough it lacks the efficiency, economy and general perfectness of some Teutonic European mass transit systems but on the whole it will get you to where you want to go on a regular basis. For many of us it is unquestionably the cheapest, most efficient and socially conscious way of getting to and from your place of employment.
Just having the ability to sit back, get out your Kindle, Metro, or Laptop and actually do something interesting means that it is usually the most comfortable and easy way to do the commute. Those of you living in London may not quite have it so easy and yes there are those days when it’s a total and utter nightmare but on the whole that half hour peace and quiet where you can just indulge in a bit of reading can be a godsend.
It’s better than sitting in a traffic jam having to listen to Nick Grimshaw. Anything is better than having to listen to Nick Grimshaw*.
Not all of us are so lucky
The reality of life is that not all businesses live within easy reach of public transport.
It may be that the firm you work for is tucked away on some non-descript industrial estates well away from any major transit route. It may be that the bus route needed to reach your office requires about 15 million different changes. It may be that you have to work unsociable hours and there simply is no available transport other than your own vehicle. It may be that you have to be in multiple places during the day and have to flit between locations.
Whatever the reason there is a percentage of jobs out there that you simply cannot do if you do not have access to a car. Period.
Why is this important?
Well it turns out that when it comes to finding a good job that your choices are greatly widened by being able to drive. All those potential employers who are out there in far flung places are happy to hire you and on a good rate but unfortunately you don’t drive and can’t get there.
The reality is that any advantage you have over the competition when it comes to finding that next step up the ladder is a good one. All those people who don’t drive, they are not applying for that role because they can’t get there either.
Likewise the employer is wondering exactly where they are supposed to get good people from. They advertised and saw a few people but none of them were really suitable. Perhaps they may have to put the money up to lure some people out to their remote location.
But I have a job
At some stage you may decide to step up the greasy pole to see if you can get yourself in to some kind of management position. You have been at the firm for a while and it looks like they are going to promote you. The big time beckons.
Unfortunately your new responsibilities will include managing a couple of branch offices and actually having to directly engage with clients on site. Both of these tasks are going to require you to be more mobile than you currently are with your bus pass.
It now looks like they are now going to give the job to Sandra because she can drive. Who would have thought you would lose out to someone with a Ford Fiesta. Everyone knows you could do the job way better, including management, but they also know that sitting on the bus for 4 hours a day isn’t an option.
It’s really not that difficult – your mum can do it
Some people completely freak out at the idea of getting behind the wheel of a lethal hunk of metal and propelling it at great speed down a motorway. Don’t be. It’s just as dangerous on the bus.
For the absolutely vast majority of human beings driving is as easy as breathing. Once you get the hang of how to handle the car and what the rules of the road are you barely even realise you are doing it. If you can ride a push bike down the street then you can drive a car.
Cost is often an issue. I do genuinely sympathise with young people today because of the cost of insurance, lessons and the simple act of buying the car in the first place. We had it easier in the past.
Just remember there are plenty of people out there who will take you out for a spin providing you have L plates. It might involve being really nice to your dad for a while or even having to put your husband through one of the most terrifying ordeals of his life but I can speak from personal experience that someone will help.
The real secret is to do it when you are still young. Believe it or not it gets more difficult as you get older. Just get your license. You may not drive for another 10 years but it should be an ordeal you only have to do once in your life. Do it while your body is still functioning as it doesn’t last forever.
How did you cope before you could drive?
The strange thing is that once you do learn to drive and get your own mode of transport it becomes an essential part of your life. Simply being able to put those keys in the ignition and go wherever you want is a level of freedom that becomes almost a necessity once you have it.
They call it the open road for a reason.
What it means in practical terms is nipping over to see your girlfriend for a quick one or going to the supermarket and just loading up your shopping or even just being able to drive through your local McDonald’s. It might be some mad adventure or just going round to pick up your washing from your mum. Life in general gets a lot easier.
The reality is that not being able to drive will seriously dent your career prospects. It may even degrade your overall life experience. Having the freedom to go where you want, when you want, is something that just makes work and life in general easier.
It may only be a short time before you are picking up the kids from school instead of that drive thru burger but if you do get the opportunity to learn to drive then it is something you should take with both hands. Both hands are actually quite a good idea.
Yes there is cost and hassle and accidents but the long term benefits are vast. Just don’t think you are Nigel Mansell
*Anyone over the age of 30 is predisposed to hate Radio 1. You know you are old when you start to enjoy listening to Radio 2. If you find yourself listening to Radio 4 it’s time to get the coffin out.