Unless you live in a big city, you have no idea what a Zipcar is.
One of the best and worst moments in the move to New York City was the selling of our cars. I loved our cars. The misses and I both owned convertibles, and in Atlanta we got to drive with the top down often. One time, we took our Mini Cooper on a 1,000-mile road trip to Wisconsin, with the top down most of the way. That said, I liked the idea of being on-foot 24-hours a day, with no car payment, no insurance payment and no payment for parking.
So when the misses suggested yesterday that we sign up for a Zipcar account, I said
- What's a Zipcar? and
- Why would we want to get cars when we just got rid of two?
I've just now adjusted to the subways and taxis. So now I have to start driving on the streets of New York again?
The misses made a good argument (let's admit here that she always does, even when she doesn't) that we would occasionally need a car to drive upstate, or pick someone up at the airport, or in emergencies. Our first "emergency" occurred this week when we bought an armoire desk on craigslist and then couldn't find anyone with a truck willing to help us move it. So we became "zippers."
Here's how the deal works: You pay $50 a year to be a zipper. After that, whenever you need a car, you go online and reserve a Zipcar -- which can be anything from a Mini to a pickup truck or van. You go to pick it up at a nearby garage. You hold your zipcard up to the door and it unlocks, with the key already inside. You drive the car around as much as you want for a flat hourly or daily rate. The hourly rate usually ranges from $8 to $13 an hour. Not too bad. When you're done, you return the car and re-lock it for the next person to use.
You don't have to pay for the insurance. If you need gas, it's paid for, you just use your Zipcar to fill up. It's not a bad deal, giving us the ability to have a car when needed, without all the long-term headaches.
How did it work last night? Pretty well. I took the subway to where the pickup was located. Took a minute to figure out where to hold my card, but when I found the sensor it unlocked easily. The truck even had an iPod plug for the stereo, which was cool and allowed me to play Sinatra while rolling down 57th Street. Moved the 4,000-pound piece of furniture from the seller's house to our apartment (thank God for our elevator!) and then returned the car and subwayed back home. All in two hours. Cost me $28 for two hours, far cheaper than what I'd have paid someone to move the armoire for me.
One regret: No tractors or four-wheelers in the Zipcar stable. I just got my email asking for feedback, so I'm sure it'll raise some eyebrows when they open my response.