Sunday, July 27, 2008
I admit it - I am the quintessential lady driver. You know, the kind that most (chauvinistic) males drivers roll their eyes about and in whose presence they wonder (aloud) why women were ever allowed to get behind the wheel.
I have a fairly stuffed sense of direction complemented by an occasional tendency to be indecisive about what route to take. I do know (in theory) how to change a flat, but I know absolutely nothing about the mechanics of a car. Frankly, I don't really mind that I don't, as long as it runs when I put the key into the ignition - awful, I know.
It's quite easy to understand why, as I am beginning my foray into the world of second-hand car hunting on a budget, I feel like I am jumping off the deep end into water teeming with sharks.
Sometimes I wonder if I really do need a car, specially since I am thinking of staying only a year (for the moment). To be fair, I've been getting on okay with walking and public transport.
On the other hand, weekly grocery shopping has become a bit of an Olympic sport for me - a hybrid of long-distance walking and weight-lifting every time. I've also been drenched fairly regularly by motorists cruising down the highway, as I, the lone pedestrian, plod to work in the rain. And, since walking along the fairly deserted highway late at night is hardly a wise idea under any circumstances, I've had to endure taxi waits of over 2 hours from the end of my shift.
In an ideal world, a car dunce like me would be best off buying brand new, regularly bringing the car in for prophylactic servicing, and then selling it off before it has any serious problems. Unfortunately, I don't live in an ideal world - but I need a decent car on a very modest budget that won't cost me more to service it than the price of buying it.
I'm not really looking for anything fancy - just a fairly well-maintained little hatchback that won't kill me with fuel expenses and car repairs. I've been doing a bit of research, and I've already zeroed in on certain makes and models that may suit. However, given my current automotive know-how, anyone could hand me a lemon of a car and I'd probably drive it away with a smile on my face - until it refuses to take me anywhere and needs to be towed to the nearest service station as soon as I've bought it.
Frankly, I can't think of any solution around this dilemma at the moment. While I have made a few acquaintances here, I'm still a bit wary about dragging any of them car shopping with me - not only because I wouldn't want to impose, but also because I don't know who might have the best amount of know-how to help me out. Short of taking a crash course in appraising cars, I'm not sure what else I can do. Of course buying anything that pre-owned always comes with risks, but despite my desperation, I wouldn't want to throw away my money on a dud.
If there are any natives out there reading my blog - I'd love to hear some suggestions. (Or maybe you have trusted friends who are considering selling off their cars!) As for my readers from back home and elsewhere, let's just all cross our fingers together and hope I don't get gobbled up by the sharks alive.