Drive through ATMs and other drive throughs

In Asheville’s lovely organic food store I asked where the nearest ATM was.  The very friendly chekout per­son gave me clear dir­ec­tions to a Whachovia ATM just across the park­ing lot.  I walked across and it was only when I got right there that it dawned on me that what i was doing was unusual beha­viour.  I’m not sure that any­one even saw me — but in a way I hope they did spot the for­eigner walk­ing up to the drive through ATM and with­draw­ing money. I star­ted to feel strangely vul­ner­able stand­ing there in the road, as if cars were going to be com­ing at me and get­ting impa­tient with me for not fol­low­ing the norm, even though there were no cars near at all!

Today in Portland we went to the post office to post some post­cards.  Drive through.  Drive through post­boxes! Very funny.

Beth told us a story of a friend of her’s who went to a drive through bur­ger bar on his bike and they refused to serve him.  When he insisted they called the police, who in the end took his order for him and went in to get his food.  The rationale was that drive throughs can be taget­ted by hit and run incid­ents and while their secur­ity cam­eras are set up to pho­to­graph the regista­tion plate of a car, if you are on foot or on a bike you could eas­ily dis­ap­pear without trace after shoot­ing a few folk. It’s not funny, but rather tragic.

It’s inter­est­ing just how import­ant social norms are in shap­ing beha­viour. Everyone has a tumble drier, so even those who think more deeply about these things get one too. Washing lines can be bought, but are unusual.  More elec­tri­city down the drain.

And com­ing back to fly­ing — it is the norm here, not just to take one flight to your internal des­tin­a­tion, but to take lots of dif­fer­ent con­nec­tions to reach your des­tin­a­tion in the cheapest way. Delta Airlines scares me, with its web of too many red flight lines cris­scross­ing the States each day.

And now for the pos­it­ive story! On my last day in Asheville, NC over break­fast Laura and I were dis­cuss­ing the poetry fest­ival she has been organ­ising for the last 4 years and how she could incor­por­ate ideas from geo­po­et­ics, weav­ing together strands of sci­ence, poetry (emo­tion) and spritu­al­ity. The con­ver­sa­tion ended with Laura com­mit­ted to mak­ing the next Asheville Wordfest a zero car­bon event, hav­ing poets and oth­ers enga­ging in con­ver­sa­tion by weblink, and look­ing into pedal powered screens. If that hap­pens I will have helped to save no end of air­miles, and who knows how many other sim­ilar fest­ivals may fol­low her lead. Does that jus­tify my jour­ney here? It’s always good to make a dif­fer­ence, and whilst this is turn­ing into a truly amaz­ing and inspir­ing trip, I still don’t know if I can really jus­tify so much car­bon emis­sions. I feel as if I am liv­ing on bor­rowed car­bon and Chris and I have decided to put some money into the Portobello Wind Turbine as our ‘car­bon off­set’. (More on that later)

My latest the­ory is that the aver­age US cit­izen car­ries on regard­less because there is no vis­ible effect of their life­style. The wil­der­ness is huge and inspir­ing and beau­ti­ful, so why not enjoy a big car and a few dozen flights each year?

3 thoughts on “Drive through ATMs and other drive throughs

  1. I know what you mean about walk­ing places there: we asked for dir­ec­tions to super­mar­ket in LA and imme­di­ately response was where’s your car??? you’re gonna WALK???
    Good idea bout off­set pay­metns to the local project…could raise a lot here if we asked local people to do same after their hols!!

  2. Hi, Jane,

    Wonderful post! I’m still plan­ning on fol­low­ing through on a zero-C Wordfest. I’ve emailed Brian Cox and also an astro­naut, Ron Lanan who foun­ded Fragile Oasis.

    You’ve influ­enced me more than you can ima­gine. Conversations shift paradigms more than art­icles and tv pro­grams and movies and lec­tures put together. You walk a very clear path. You have stuck to that path for twenty years. You are right that Americans don’t see the impact of waste­ful liv­ing because there is so much land. I hadn’t made that con­nec­tion. It is true. We have no limits.

    But that doesn’t mean the lim­its don’t exist.

    One thing: the per­son at Earth Fare ought to have advised you that you can get cash back from a transaction.

    One other thing: I was once denied win­dow ser­vice at a drive-thru because I “don’t look deaf” and was instruc­ted to drive back around and use the speak­ers, which I can’t understand.

    So, here’s to look­ing deaf.

    The pea­nut but­ter is delish.


  3. That’s so cool about the zero car­bon word fest — and Brian Cox! He is very gor­geous. I have no doubt that it will hap­pen — you are such a good ‘doer’.

    You have influ­enced me more than you can ima­gine too. You too walk a very clear path and bring so much integ­rity to all your work and creativity.

    When I was talk­ing to friends about my trip to the Sates before we set off I was say­ing I was com­ing to visit you, and sev­eral friends knew exactly who were were — ‘the woman who wrote the poem about the rain’, or oth­ers, as I had talked so much about you over the years!

    We arrived back in Scotland yes­ter­day and every­where seems so small. Nice and famil­iar.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>