Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Motorless

Honore Daumier, The Omnibus, 1864

It's the time of year when I have to spend money on my car. It's now about 5 years old, and so the tax ran out at the end of last month. Getting a new tax disk used to involve queuing at the dreaded Post Office, but these days it's done over the phone and they post it to you. A few weeks after the tax runs out, so does my MOT (a test of roadworthiness must be done annually on cars over 3 years old), and while I'm at it I get its annual service done.

A couple of weeks ago I tried to drive over something that was too high and scraped the bottom of the car. I haven't driven it since, because I didn't know whether anything serious was damaged, or what the consequences of driving around without the large pieces that got ripped off the underside.

Since I don't use the car daily anyway, I decided just to wait until the service to get it looked at. They've had a look today and luckily the damage isn't expensive.

As usual when I'm deprived of my car for any length of time (last year a warning light started coming on in January, so I only used it sparingly until March), I start to wonder if it's worth keeping a set of wheels.

Not having a car is a viable option in this country. They build things called pavements here. I believe that there is an equivalent American word "Sidewalk", although I've rarely managed to walk anywhere in the US. I happily walk the 40 minutes to and from our town centre if I go there to meet people for a drink.

Together with internet shopping, you can manage okay. In fact I know several carless households. Admittedly most of them don't have children. That's only viable for SAHMs who don't have the inevitable long round trip between work, school and home.

I'm sure I'd save money. No tax, insurance, MOTs, maintenance, repairs. I could hire a car the odd time I needed one, and use public transport. Busses stop right outside my flat - Helena and I got one the other day, one of the rare times.

So what am I waiting for? What's stopping me putting an advert on Dan's blog. "5 year old Skoda. Low mileage. One careless owner"?

The truth is that I like the convenience. I like going to the supermarket - I don't want to do internet shopping for groceries. I like being able to ferry Helena around - that way I don't have to spend 30 minutes - 1 hour per weekend wasting my life waiting for my ex to arrive (she's never on time).

And I like my car. It's had a few knocks (only with solid stationary objects, no other vehicles), but I've had it since it was new, it's hardly ever been driven by anyone else, and it represents my freedom. By Friday it'll have a new MOT, a new underside, and will hopefully give me another year of trouble-free motoring. Maybe I'll ditch it next year...

43 comments:

Dan said...

first, read you later, I'm on a row today.

Brian o Vretanos said...

That was quick! Nice one, Dan!

Marie said...

What is a tax disk? Do you have to insert it in your car?

We have stickers we have to purchase. One for the windshield and one for the license plate.

I wouldn't give up my car, like you said it gives you freedom and that is priceless!!!!

Brian o Vretanos said...

Marie:

It is a piece of paper that you stick onto your windscreen using a plastic holder.

I remember when I was a student and had my first car. At that time it was the only thing I really owned, and I really felt that freedom them.

Bee said...

Damn those "solid stationary objects" how dare the crash into you?

Bee said...

Our tax disk is called a City Sticker or Plate sticker. We need to but 2.

Brian o Vretanos said...

Bee:

What I want to know is who put them there in the first place? ;-)

Bee said...

to buy I mean

Bee said...

I blame jean knee.

Brian o Vretanos said...

I thought that you had to get new plates every year? Or does it vary by State?

Brian o Vretanos said...

In Jean Knee country there's a very serious danger of being hit by solid "stationary" objects, by the sound of things.

Bee said...

Not new plates, just the sticker on the plate.

Brian o Vretanos said...

Ha! I was 11th!

Bee said...

Cheater.

Marie said...

Got it, I thought it was like a CD disk or something.

I hope to get a new car someday, I've already picked out it's name Patrick. I just have to find a car to fit the name.

Brian o Vretanos said...

It was entirely unintentional.
Which makes it all the more satisfying ;-)

Brian o Vretanos said...

Marie:

I've never named a car. I just don't see them in that way. Is that Patrick from "Spongebob"?

Bee said...

Patrick? After Patrick Wohlburg "Puddy"?

Brian, cheater anyway.

Marie said...

Patrick Dempsey, or Dr. McDreamy as he is better known for in his role on Grey's Anatomy. I've had a crush on him since high school.

Bee said...

Oh. I like the other guy. I don't watch "Greys" so I 'm not sure of his name uh... McSteamy I think?

Bee said...

Okay Brian, it's sour grapes.

Dan said...

Fun Gorge, I like that Gorge. Just kidding, although I think only Bee got that one.

I say you should keep the car, specially since you bought it new and hardly use it.
We have to buy a plate sticker and a city sticker every year.

Dan said...

the pizza boy is ugly.

Marie said...

I'll take a pizza with anchovies.

BEE said...

It's "George" Dan. And yeah I got it and think it's HIl------ARIOUS.

Jean Knee said...

everything is very spread out here, I couldn't even walk to the end of the street in 40 minutes.

plus we don't have public transportation

that is a real flaw we have here, they're putting it in in some cities but mostly not

you can hitch if you don't mind psychos

Jean Knee said...

never give up your sweet ride, it's a luxury you deserve

Brian o Vretanos said...

Jean Knee:

You're alive! I thought you might have been blown away by a Tornusto or my masterful prose...

I shall take your advice.

Jean Knee said...

I was having fun at soft ball practice, Did I tell you I now have a softball field in my backyard? fun times



and yes, softball moms are just as obnoxious as soccer moms (not all of them, just the ones who talk about how great they are and how great their family is and how great my next door neighbor is(who, by the way can't bring himself to return a wave or acknowledge us in any form- yes he's an attorney, how'd you know?

Rim left early to go drink wine

Jean Knee said...

how you been Brian?

Brian o Vretanos said...

Jean Knee:

I've been fine. I'm off out for a Chinese tonight.

Jean Knee said...

got a date with an oriental gal, huh?

Brian o Vretanos said...

Jean Knee:

No, just some people from work. But it was a very nice meal. Though I completely missed watching the news tonight.

Tracy said...

I once managed to drive around with a dead inspection sticker for a year and a half. It turns out that tickets for really dead inspection stickers are HIGHLY expensive.
My husband told me that I need to make sure that doesn't happen again or I'll lose my wheels. I wouldn't be able to live without my van, Bambino (thanks Dan).
I say keep it.

Jean Knee said...

sleepin

Chris said...

I just personally think it's awesome you'd walk 40 minutes to meet friends.

One thing I will say is that we are L-a-Z-Y.

And I am very much so :-) I will drive around for 20 minutes waiting for someone to leave so I can park 4 spots closer to the supermarket's door.

Pathetic right?

Missed you all. Thank you for the smile tonight. xox

Brian o Vretanos said...

Tracy:

Here they can impound your car and crush it if you don't pay up within a certain time.

Chris:

It's easier to walk here - they provide the proper facilities ;-)
They also don't provide enough parking, which gives you a bit of an incentive, but the main reason I'd walk is so I can have a drink.

Nice to hear from you again - I hope you're feeling better.

Jean Knee said...

where are the bon bons?

Jean Knee said...

if you were a tree what kind would you be?

Brian o Vretanos said...

Jean Knee:

The bon bons were very nice. Where were you?

I think I'd like to be one of those trees whose branches form a natural shelter that people can go in.

Bee said...

Brian, we have to change the time tomorrow night. When do you guys do it?

Brian o Vretanos said...

Bee:

Not until the 30th. So you'll be 5 hours behind us for a couple of weeks.

Brian o Vretanos said...

All right, 3 weeks.