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Car-free Summer, 2008 » Thursday 8/21/08: Deliver Him Unto DeKalb
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Errands and Uncategorized23 Aug 2008 12:59 am

Rental car time again. Number One Son is heading off to college at Northern in DeKalb, Illinois.

A dear and long-time friend had offered to let me use his very large Ford SUV for the delivery. I’m tempted. I know it will swallow enough people and cargo to empty out half the North Side. Besides, I haven’t driven something this big since I drove that antique 1954 GM transit bus, all 40 feet of it, in Minneapolis a few years back. Let’s not talk about things from 1954 being antiques.

Just for the heck of it, I do some quick calculations to see what, if anything, I would save over a rental car. Even with conservative numbers, I would save possibly $10-15 over a rental car. The downside is time: I’d have to cycle down to West Rogers Park to pick it up. I’m grateful for his generosity, which he has in abundance, but decided on the rental car last night. And so, I picked it up this morning, a black Nissan sedan with a Bluetooth-enabled keyless start. I asked the young woman, “But what if someone hacks my car from his Blackberry?” She’s polite but doubtless thinks this is one geeky customer she needs off the lot right now.

I like the dashboard: Tokyo by Night.

Tokyo by Night Dashboard

If it weren’t for the distance to DeKalb and two other people riding along, I probably could have done with borrowing a shopping cart from Dominicks and pulling it behind my bike: a young male does not travel with as much stuff as a young woman. This is not a sexist statement. This is the way it is. The heaviest item was the lead-encased computer monitor, followed by the CPU. The rest literally filled a shopping cart provided on the campus by the moving staff.

“Guys are so easy,” said one of the girls volunteering unloading cars. “They move in with T-shirts and jeans and their computer and TV.”

“This is the lightest load I’ve had all day,” said the young man driving the mini-truck to which we transferred my son’s belongings for the trip to the dorm shopping cart.

Son\'s belongings in a shopping cart.

After I park the car in a parking lot that is in the suburbs of the parking lots, I walk back to meet my wife and son waiting to get up the elevators. Nancy says that some girls’ loads filled up the entire elevator car. I myself notice some very generous mountains of belongings at the curb with girls standing beside them. This is yet another epiphany on maleness that comes from having a son and a daughter. Our car was absolutely packed with her stuff four years ago. I’m surprised the door latches held for 900 miles.

I also noticed the bike rack by the dorm. There are quite a few bikes here but one sad specimen has been knocked down to the ground while still being locked to the rack. It seems an orphan: the cluster on the rear wheel is orange with rust and the wheel itself is “taco-ed.”

Orphan bike at DeKalb dorm

Eventually, we get his belongings into his top-floor corner room with a commanding view of the campus and a nice breeze. We prevail upon him to take care of administrivia, minor things like books and banking while he has us and our credit cards. He would rather have his fingernails pulled out with a Ferrari but Mom knows what’s up. Good thing, deeds done.

We take him out to a nice Mexican restaurant in DeKalb for a final meal before dorm food. A beer would be nice as would a margarita but I’m driving. I asked the waiter, a nice Caucasian man, if they had liquados. “What’s that?” he asked. I guessed he didn’t have them. “I’ll just stick with water.”

We dropped James off after dinner at his dorm, said our goodbyes, and headed off leaving him to fend for himself. Not quite like Johnny Cash’s A Boy Named Sue but he’ll just have to figure it out himself.

We drove home again through the cornfields and the soybean fields and the depressingly persistent marching developments around Elburn.

Route 38 east of DeKalb on the way to Elburn, IL

Will all this green get swallowed up by suburbia, too?

My wife in her opinionated moments contends that cars are the devil. If so, then suburbs are the spawn of demon seed.

Heaven help us.

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