The Art of Getting Groceries Without a Driver’s License

AJ Wood
5 min readNov 9, 2019

When daily life gets frustrating, I figure it out.

Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

I don’t drive. That’s just the way it is. Oh, I got a learner’s permit and took driver’s ed when I was sixteen. One day I even went out practicing, with my mother riding shotgun. That must have been a really bad experience, but I can’t tell you what happened. I don’t remember.

Whatever my mother was saying or doing in the car that day must have terrified me, and I decided it was safer to check out of current reality. Meaning, I dissociated the entire episode. Total amnesia for well over an hour. When I was behind the wheel of a car. On the main drag of the small town we lived in. Responsible for the safety and well-being of others.

I still panic at the thought of what might have happened that day, and decided it was better to try looking normal in ways that didn’t threaten vehicular homicide. So here I am, sixty years old and haven’t even tried to drive in….a very long time.

I’m well aware that that’s not normal in this day and age, when a driver’s license is considered a rite of passage. And not driving in such a culture presents a few challenges to everyday living. For starters, how do you fill the fridge and pantry when you don’t have a back seat to toss the food into?

When my kids were younger, their father would take me to the store once in a while, if he remembered. Or if he hadn’t spent all of his money sponsoring wolves. Or if he saw a need to impress the neighbors.

When the kids learned to drive, they took turns performing the offensive task of being assistance to their mother. But that was pretty hit-and-miss too. Just like their father, they only agreed to do it if someone was watching them. Otherwise, they went out to eat with friends when they got hungry.

As I tried to figure out a way to feed my family, I walked to the nearest store for just a few things every other day. But soup cans and pickle jars were just too heavy to carry home. That really limited the meals I was able to prepare. And once in a while I asked friends and neighbors for help, but that got old pretty fast. My request took time away from their lives and families, and I was at the mercy of their schedule.

AJ Wood

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