I arrived at work on Monday morning, parked my car, then walked through the parking lot to get to the front door of the building. As I walked along, being the car enthusiast I am, I checked out everyone else’s vehicle. I do this every morning. If someone has even washed their car, I will notice. I notice cars that are parked less than perfectly. I notice when someone who always backs into a spot has nosed in for a change. I notice when someone is driving a different car than the one they normally drive. I am strange this way.
So, it’s not that unusual for me to notice a vehicle that has never been in the parking lot before. Of course, at a school, there are always different cars on different days: substitute teachers or secretaries or special education assistants, teachers who only teach a few days each week, teachers who teach full-time but at different schools on different days.
But this rather beat-up gray Ford Windstar mini-van (the scourge of North America, mini-vans are! But I’ll save that for another post.) was not only new to our parking lot, it also had an expired insurance decal on its license plate. It had expired on May 31, 2009 and Monday was June 1, 2009. All insurance decals that have been issued in BC since January 1, 2009 have been lime green. The decal on this van is orange, marking it very clearly as last year’s.
I don’t know whose van this is! I’ve been discreetly asking around, but it’s been three days now, and I still haven’t been able to find out! I don’t want to embarrass anybody by making an announcement over the PA system: “Will the idiot who’s driving the dirty, old, gray Ford Windstar mini-van – which is the scourge of North America, by the way – PLEASE check the calendar and renew their insurance?! If you can’t afford insurance, take the bus, you moron!”
I’m just trying to be helpful, after all.
Big night for Darling Daughter yesterday: she took delivery of her brand new shiny red Honda Fit and she is over the moon! Transportation at last! Freedom! Independence!
The car (and the first year’s worth of insurance) is a 21st birthday gift from her grandma, my mother. Grandma is a bit old-fashioned in that 21 signifies adulthood to her, not 19 as our provincial government has decreed. And since 21 is a big deal, your gift should be a big deal, she believes. (If you’re wondering, yes, my 21st birthday was also a big deal way back when. My parents gave me a beautiful cedar chest that I am still using and am proud of today. It wasn’t a brand new car because they had already bought me a second-hand car three years previously when I started university and needed to get there somehow. The bus system in Vancouver was pathetic back then – but that’s another post.)
So DD and I went to pick up her car, which entailed a lot of decisions regarding additional warranty coverage, insurance, signatures, cheques exchanging hands, and in our case, a rude awakening as well. To make a long story short, we were absolutely shocked to find that a year of insurance for her is 4000$! There are a number of reasons for this (one of which is a small accident that she had while driving my old car almost three years ago), but it is still an enormous number. However, Grandma was paying, even though none of us had anticipated the cost being quite that high. I guess we should have done a little homework on the insurance website first so we at least had a inkling of what was coming.
After all the paperwork was done and the keys had been presented to her, DD drove straight to Grandma’s house, whooping all the way. Grandma was suitably impressed, particularly with the roominess of the Fit. It really is a lovely little vehicle – especially to someone (me) who is currently driving The Mighty Hyundai and is anxiously awaiting delivery of her own new BMW 135i.
Interestingly, it also happened that today was the day to return to the rental place and extend my time with said Mighty Hyundai. When the fellow checked the car over, he noted that one of its tires was low and that it needed an oil change. I looked a bit dubious at that point, and wondered aloud how long this would take and should I wait. He said I could do that, or he could give me a different rental car. He had an orange Yaris available. I shuddered. I said, “I don’t DO orange. I look hideous in orange.” He laughed. I didn’t.
There are now two new cars in my garage. One is DD’s new red Honda Fit. The other is Another Mighty Hyundai. It’s blue.
I have been without a car for almost a month now. This is because I totaled my brand new car only two months after I took delivery of it. How lame is that??? I waited nine weeks for its arrival. then I drove it for eight. There is something not-quite-right about this scenario.
But I’m managing. I live across the street from a shopping mall and just up the street from two more, so I can walk almost everywhere I need to go: grocery store, drugstore, doctor, hairdresser, liquor store, bank (well, the ATM at least), two pubs, four Starbucks outlets, several restaurants. Where I can’t walk is to the library or to get my nails done. Which means I have to wangle rides from friends to go to those places. That’s a bit embarrassing, particularly the nails: “Um…could you maybe give me a lift on Tuesday?” “Sure. Where to?” “Um…my nail lady’s house. I have a standing appointment every third Tuesday.”
I’m a teacher, so of course I haven’t had to go to work this month. But school re-opens on September 2, so I will have to get a car then. I really couldn’t walk to work (although one of my colleagues a few years ago lived nearby and he often rode his bicycle to work). I do have one current colleague who lives not too far from me, and although I’ve driven him to and from work many times in the past few years so he certainly owes me, I couldn’t ever adapt to the school hours he likes to keep. He likes to arrive between 7 and 7:30 a.m. and leave by 3 p.m. I once arrived at 7 a.m. Once. In 28 years of teaching. So really, that is not an option.
I’ll be renting a car starting on September 1. I’ve learned that there is quite a range in monthly rental fees depending upon the company. I’ve also learned that it will be cheaper for me to keep the insurance I already have (for a car that I no longer own and no longer exists) rather than purchase insurance from the rental company. I’ve actuallly done the math (shocking, I know. I’m definitely NOT a math person.) and if I keep my current insurance going, it’s about 160$ a month, whereas the rental company will charge at least 500$ a month. Not hard to decide what to do there, is it?
The irony is that I do have an insurance package that supposedly pays for a rental car. The catch is that this is only in effect till: a) repairs are completed on my car, b) 500$ maximum in rental fees is reached, or c) the insurance company pays me out if my car is written off. C) applies in my case, so although I paid a bit more originally for this package, I cannot benefit from it now when I actually need a car. And that’s one of the ways insurance companies make their money.
My new car should be here at the end of October, if all goes according to plan. That’s ten weeks from now. Maybe I can drive this one longer than eight.