Grand Delusion? Of Zipcar and the iPhone

Among the things I'm sorely tired of is the fact that my car is parked in a garage that's about 5 1/2 blocks from my house, necessitating a trek every time I want to drive somewhere. You'd think that, several years into this arrangement, I would have mastered the art of adding 7-8 minutes onto my estimated transit time, allowing me to get wherever I'm going when I'm actually supposed to be there, but no. I'm late impressively often.

I rent a garage not so much because it's a drag to look for parking in Hayes Valley (it is, but I'm often around during odd times and could hypothetically score some decent spots), but because I am forever scarred by the fact that my car got broken into twice within the first month I'd moved here. The logic goes that I'd rather pay to rent a garage space than pay to have one of my car windows fixed yet again.

But I may be reaching the end of the line here. My car, a luxurious 1993 Toyota Corolla, still runs like a champ, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the automotive equivalent of slow, steady internal bleeding is happening under the hood, and that one of these days I'm going to discover that I need to replace, like, everything.

So all of this got me thinking about the possibility of selling the car, ditching the garage space, and signing up with Zipcar, which has a lot literally at the end of my block. No more stupid trek to Fulton Street, no more garage rent, no more worries about emergency Corolla surgery--just a nice little Mini there when I need it (more or less).

I go back and forth on the math and the pros and cons here. Would I ultimately save money if I joined Zipcar, given how much I drive? Would I severely regret not having a car at my disposal every single time I needed it, no question? Would I be inspired to take Muni more often--and, as a result, to put up with an even longer chunk of transit time?

Come with me on this little logic detour for a moment. Thinking about taking Muni made me think, Well, it could be reasonable if I had a phone that let me go to NextBus to figure out whether I'd be better off waiting for the 21 or whether I'd be better off walking/driving/cursing SF's public transit. And then: You know, a phone like, say, an iPhone. And then: Because if I didn't have to shell out for garage rent, gas, and insurance every month, I'd have an additional chunk of money that I could obliterate on something else, such as one of AT&T's expensive-ass monthly plans. Me, Zipcar, my iPhone: what a happy trio we would be.

All of this sets aside for the moment the fact that I loathe AT&T and fear I wouldn't be able to use an iPhone as a phone in or near my house because of the crappy reception (though Nir sat on my sofa last week and demonstrated to me the upward tick of the bars on his iPhone and then sent a bunch of texts as a bonus). But my desire for a new Apple gadget is such that I might be willing to give AT&T the benefit of the doubt that they're ever going to do a damn thing to improve reception in SF. Hope springs eternal.

So here's my request: persuade me one way or the other. Adios to the voiture and hello to the iPhone? Stick with the Corolla and the (cough, cough) first-generation Motorola Razr (hey, it still works after being dropped more times than I'm willing to admit)? Sign up for Zipcar but wait on the iPhone? Leave me a comment and sway my decision.


sgazzetti said...

I imagine that you know which side of at least one particular facet of this issue I'm going to come down on.

I loathe cell phones. I resisted getting one for as long as possible, and then when I finally became a user I carried the rotten Motorolas and Nokias under duress.

I fucking flat out love the iPhone.

I've been using one for a little under a year, and it still gives me a genuine and substantial charge of joy several times each and every day. It makes me happy in a way that is, I suppose, very crass to admit. I cannot imagine not having it (and the phone part is the least used aspect of it, in my case).

I am paying about €13/month for all the calling, SMSes, and data I can eat, so I am sympathetic to concerns about the overpriced AT&T plans. That said, obtaining the phone itself here was so expensive that I have forced myself to forget the exact sum I paid; then there was (and continues to be...) the jailbreaking/unlocking thing. But I would happily pay much more monthly to have this thing, and go through more geek-hassle as well.

Bottom line: the 'never look back' aspect may be even more pronounced than the move to OS X from Windows. I can't imagine being in a place where iPhone ownership is so easy and not having one. Go get it today. You will not regret it. It is sweet, sweet candy that you can justify, and that will make each day a little sweeter.

(Also hear good things about ZipCar, so ditch the Toyota, too.)



P.S. Are we still thinking about an east coast meet-up at all? 2nd half of July is pretty loose our end. Call me on my IPHONE: +359 88 807 6923.

sonja said...

Well ... unfortunately now you have two iPhone votes.

We're a three iPhone family. We have one from every generation. I know that sounds very horrible, but Ross got the original and the 3GS for work. I have the 3G.

We love them. When traveling they become an alarm clock, and your computer, and your GPS, and a restaurant finder, and your receipt keeper (for expenses), and your mileage tracker, and your camera, and your video camera, and you can track your exercise and I dunno ... Nationwide Insurance even has a claim app now so you can do your accident claims from the site using your iPhone!!! They are freaking amazing little gadgets.

I know nothing about ZipCar, save that I'm just the teensiest bit jealous of it.

I had my iPhone in a neoprene shell and dropped it off the balcony of a play onto the stage (long story). It still works just fine ... no worries.

Sell that luxury Toyota. Live car/worry free for a while and get an iPhone. You can always change your mind.

Mike said...

three iPhone votes. but i can't shake the feeling the iPhone and car issues are really different things. middle ground, here, is ditching the garage, keeping lil' car, and nabbing an iPhone. the window gods will protect the car.

Erik Hansen said...

I suppose it would help to know what the garage rental, car insurance and gas amount to each month. Also, you'll want more than just one ZipCar lot nearby because the cars tend to get gobbled up on the weekends.

The new iPhone is awesome. More awesomer than the old ones. Sure, AT&T pretty much sucks in your hood, but you do have a land line :) And everyone in San Francisco is hoping that AT&T will get their shit together.

On a related note, although the NetxMuni site still works, all of the related "when-is-my-bus-coming" sites and applications have been at least temporarily disabled because of some money hungry dick. Grr... Some info on that here: http://www.routesy.com/

Finally, if you sell the car and have an iPhone, you can spend the time waiting for and riding busses playing with iPhone apps (when you aren't getting interviewed for podcasts, that is).

Anonymous said...

I think that you should get an iphone. I failed to follow exactly why the iphone and the car are connected, but I am aghast that you would think of abandoning little car before he abandons you. Think of all you've been through together! I agree with Mike- get an iphone, ditch the garage, and keep lil car until HE decides it's time to go. (Monique)