Tuesday, 4 March 2008
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...