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.