My shame, such as shame can exist for an opinionated native New Yorker, hasn’t been shared on my blog until now. Last year, I got a learner’s permit and asked Ryan to teach me how to drive. It isn’t as if he wanted to. After all, he’s met me. All 46 squirrel-fascinated ADHD years of me. Until last year, his abject terror based on instantly imagined scenes of carnage and death—mostly his in a mangled passenger seat after my distraction by, really, anything shiny—led to equally instant and unprintably vehement negative responses.
But over the summer we re-examined where we want to end up after Chicago, just in case returning to be with my family in Queens eventually proved too financially daunting to accomplish. And besides my transit-laden New York hometown, our (yes, it really is) transit-laden old plan of Los Angeles, and staying in Chicago, we put other cities in the mix, too. Namely, Orlando and Tampa, for the obvious reasons for anyone who knows us: the same proximity to New York like we have in Chicago; and instant(ish) proximity to Disney World.
(Shut up to some of you. Shut up right now. Every time you say you wish you could go live on a beach for the rest of your life and no one tells you you’re crazy? Disney is our beach. Give us our earhatted beach, ok?)
On the other hand, in all of highly affordable (and hello old GLYNY friend William Brown who lives there) Orlando—because, really, without seven theme parks, Tampa never had a chance—enough civilization and transit to sustain a nondriving ADHDer like me pretty much revolves around downtown. And while Downtown Orlando is awesome by anyone’s measure, it’s also kind of small. And so, the driving-instruction ask of Ryan. If we really wanted to keep Central Florida on this list, he really couldn’t say no.
Though I’m sure he hoped I’d fail my written test.
One forest preserve, two industrial areas, three parking lots, a whole lot of skidding stops, and I have no idea how many arguments later, we put the idea on hold. Not because I love my family and really want to return to NYC no matter what—although essentially that’s really the case. But because for Ryan’s sake, I chose life. And for the next several months, the clock ticked. I felt bad about dragging Ryan into my potentially deadly endeavor. Yet, I didn’t want to waste my soon-to-expire learner’s permit, either.
And then a friend of mine said the magic words: “I wonder what it would be like to drive for Uber?” And when my ADHD superpower of hyperfocus finished firing and I came up for air from researching everything there is to know about ridesharing, my yen to turn myself into a gigantic hypocrite on the lifelong-nondriving thing ceased to exist.
Live in Orlando if not for my family—or almost anywhere else in the less-than-most-dense parts of urban America? Brave a not-quite-comprehensive transit system? If the finances were right and the flights short back to Gotham, why not? I love computers, convenience, and most of all I love cheap. Hand me the app, already. Ooh, shiny…
City halls across America might be at war with ridesharing companies over taking business away from (how much more disgusting can your back seat be) traditional taxi monopolies. But more than a few transit agencies understand ridesharing can help close that pesky “last mile” that so often exists between where people live and where the nearest transit option is located at much less expense to the public fisc than running (or building) additional services.
Don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t want to commute via Uber or Lyft. But for occasional trips around Orlando—or Chicago or New York, for that matter, in those few instances when transit isn’t exactly the best option—boy, did I come late to that party.
In the end, predicatbly, New York remained at the top of the list. So, happiness for all concerned. Ryan can live. I can remain a lifelong nondriver. I may never wait 20 minutes for a Q23 back to the subway at (my nephew) Sean and Jennie’s house in Glendale again. And as for you, my soul-sucking old nemesis, the sweaty ten o’clock hour of post-Illuminations overcrowded Epcot resort bus queue hell that Walt Disney World vets like me unfortunately know so well?
The last time really was the last time.
Michael Thaddeus Doyle
I'm a NYC-native, Latino, Jew-by-choice, hardcore WDW fan in Chicago with an Irish last name. I believe in social justice, big cities, and public transit. I do nonprofit development. I've written this blog since 2005. Believe in the world you want to live in.