21 July 2010

How to avoid being eaten by Godzilla

I do own a car. Well, it’s not legally mine as it’s under my wife’s name but all small print aside, we have joint-custody over the thing. I get to drive the car on weekends as it’s basically my turn to drive around while the kids go mental at the back or when the weather’s too dreadful for me to get to work on my Vespa.

Unfortunately, owning a car is quite expensive. Even if it is an awfully boring car like mine – a Peugeot 307. Yes, a Peugeot. A great conversation killer in my books. Don’t believe me? Try this:

Blah...blah...blah...So, what do you drive?

A Peugeot. A 307.

Oh, really?


It’s that bad. The silence would be so bad, you could actually hear the sound of crickets in the background. I might as well have bought myself a Volvo or even worse, a Skoda. At least with a Skoda, the people asking the question would laugh out loud and after they wipe away their tears of joy, would ask whether you were being serious in the first place. You’d get some sort of reaction. With a Peugeot? No. Nada. Nothing.

Anyway, back to my first point. Cars are expensive. Well, relatively when you compare it to a Vespa. I’d pay anything between €7 to €8 a week commuting to work on my Vespa. Driving to work, I’d be looking to fork out almost four times that amount. Then there’s the insurance and road tax which unsurprisingly costs three times more. But most importantly (as I was rudely reminded of last weekend) is the cost of repairs and servicing.

Like most countries around the world, my car is subject to regular health checks by the authorities. In Ireland, these checks are called the National Car Test or plain NCT for short. The idea of it is not too dissimilar to that of the UK’s MoT test or Malaysia’s Puspakom. Sadly, my car failed a couple of tests, one of which was an easy fix (re-alignment of the headlights) but the other two were quite serious (worn steering rod/linkage). At the end of the day, between test costs and repairs I ended up having €500 less in my wallet!

I suppose, it’s only good that these tests are enforced on people (specifically people like yours truly). If not, God only knows the state of the cars people would be driving around in. Take for example my Dad’s old Peugeot 504 (yes, this fondness for dull automobiles could be hereditary).

I remember being in my Dad’s car all those years ago. We were headed into KL via the Federal Highway. It was somewhere in front of Angkasapuri (Mid Valley was still an empty field or a bunch of setinggan houses, I can't remember) when we heard a loud thud which was quickly followed by the most horrible screeching noise ever. I was scared shit. I thought the car was about to explode or that Godzilla did exist and we were all going to be in a world of pain.

Fortunately, it was just the car’s exhaust which at that stage had decided that it had to end its rust filled life and let gravity do its work that smoggy morning in KL.

So, although I’m definitely not all too happy having parted with €500 last weekend, I’m glad that my sons won’t have to suffer the same fate as I once did at the reptilian hands of Godzilla!

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