Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Life cycle of a scooter

I am not sure if I expressed enough how much items cost here. When we first moved, we of course had to buy a car. We were pretty specific about our needs because of all the stuff that Beth has to carry. We had decided on the Honda CRV. Since we had driven it before and almost bought one previously. We bought a used one and you would have thought that it was brand new, just because of the sticker. Basically two sold cars in the states equal one used car in Australia.

We had driven this car for awhile and it needed the 50,000 Kilometer check. I brought it into the dealer that we bought it from to have the check up down. I went down on an early Saturday morning dropped it off and was told that it would be down in about an hour and that I would go get some brekky (breakfast). I went to one of my favorite spots, had my coffee, eggs, bloody Mary…etc. About 45 minutes later I got a call telling me that the car was ready. I walked back to the dealership and started looking over the statement of what they had done, and how much that it cost. The statement read something like: changed oil, changed oil filter, checked fluids, visually inspected tyres (tires), tyres didn’t need rotating….on and on. I looked at the price at the bottom of the sheet and saw that it was about $150. My thought was that everything is expensive here and that I should just deal with it. What I was mistaken about was that is the bill just for the parts. When I turned the page I saw the rest of the bill….total of $278.25. Most of you know that it takes awhile to get me riled up, when I saw that price tag I blew a gasket. I literally started yelling at the guy, and pointing to the sheet showing that the only thing that they really did was change the oil. No tyre rotation, no car wash, no transmission fluid change….I could go on and on. I kept pointing these things out and asked how it was possible that they could have my car for 45 minutes and charge me that much. The guy mistakenly told me that it took two technicians to do all the work. I told him that I have worked on a car or two in my life and that there was no way that he could justify this bill. He just kept saying sorry, that was what it cost. I argued with him for about 20 minutes. I called him a liar, a cheat, and a criminal. I mentioned that I liked the look of the brand new garage facility, but didn’t think that it was fair that I had to pay for the whole thing. As you can probably guess, I failed at getting the price reduced. I even went back to the salesman that I bought the car from and complained to him, his co-workers, his manager, and nothing.

Since cars cost so much Beth and I decided that we would only have one, and that I should use “alternative” transportation. The public system here is pretty good. There are trams, trains, and buses. Getting around is pretty easy. The draw back is that is takes awhile. My commute to work was taking me about an hour, which is fine but I have only so many “This American Life” pod casts to listen to, besides I could use a little more freedom. The solution to this was for me to buy a scooter. It took me a few months to get used to the idea, and I had to take the motorcycle class. I hunted around several places for my new “bike”. Again everything was a little expensive but I could certainly handle these prices over a car. After my research as to what kind of scooter I wanted, I came to the conclusion that a Honda would be best. A four stroke Honda Lead 100cc would get me where I wanted to go. It would not be fast enough to take on the highway system, but it would be an excellent commuter vehicle. Where should I buy it? Hmmm. I went to the closest Honda dealer. Unfortunately it is the same dealership that ripped me off on the oil change. I was only going to look, what can that hurt. When I test drove the Lead I fell in love with it and wanted it. I negotiated with the dealer and got them to take quite a bit off. After we came to an agreement I told him that he could have a deal that day if he took off another $278.25. I am very proud of myself for getting back at the big evil dealership.

With my new scooter the commute to work is about twenty minutes, and I have the luxury of running errands. Traffic and parking are a huge issue in Melbourne. With the scooter you can split traffic (drive between cars) and park basically wherever you want, even on the side walks. I also calculated that it is cheaper for me to drive the scooter than it is for me to take public transportation. Scooter is about $1 a day public transport is $2.80 a ride. Scooter wins hands down. Life is good.

After about 15 weeks of commuting to work, zipping off to the video store to get our daily dose of the West Wing, and volunteering to run up to the store for groceries, I am feeling really good about my purchase. Beth likes it too because the last thing that she wants is to get into the car after a day of work. On April the 10th I was on my way to work and enjoying my ride when someone turned from the other side of the road to go on a side street. I had no time to stop and hit the door of his car. I ended up sprawled out in the middle of the street, still unsure of what happened. The other driver jumped out of his car and said that he didn’t see me. That is the downside of owning this kind of transportation. We exchanged information, he made sure that I was fine, and I got the name and phone number of witnesses. No worries I am fine. The scooter has seen better days though the front end is smashed and there are scrapes all over the sides. I continued to work and progressed through the day. My neck started to feel sore, other than that I was fine. I made the appropriate phone calls to the insurance agent and got that all squared away. There is a place that can do the repair that is just a little ways away and I could get it there for the price quote. I brought it in the next day and it was looked over by the mechanic. I was told that I could drive it home if I felt comfortable doing so. I am not afraid to say that I had some apprehension….. get back up on the horse right? The assessor from the insurance company would not be able to get to the bike shop until the following Friday and asked if I could have the scooter there by that time. As they say here “no worries”. Thursday after work I was driving to the repair shop. I slowed down at a traffic light because it is a six way stop and I was not sure what the traffic was going to do. For the second time within a week I found myself flat on my back in the middle of traffic wondering what happened. This time I was rear ended by a cab driver. Since I had not been run over yet I knew that traffic was stopped. I decided to just stay there and reflect for a moment. Am I a bad driver? Am I doing something wrong in my life that this is happening? Does God hate me? It didn’t take long before I was surrounded by a bunch of people asking if I was alright. A quick check revealed no broken bones or blood; I was just more surprised than anything else. I figured that I must be doing something right since I have now been in these two accidents and no significant injuries. Once again I gathered information on the other driver and witnesses to the accident.

I have learned today that the scooter is “beyond an economical repair” in other words they totaled the thing.

I really enjoyed my scooter, but maybe I should stick to the trains, trams, and a bicycle.


Anna said...

Yeah, I think that's a good idea buddy!
Scott and Joann (neighbors behind) have one they said I could use but I’m not sure I’m safe on those things either. Gas has gone to $3.40-$3.50 here this week and my truck is really not fun to fill up. I filled the boat and the truck last Friday and it was $133.00 bucks, good times. But I still like NOT laying on the pavement if I hit something. I’m glad you're safe. Brandon

otrey3 said...

You're going to be a daddy, buddy; courting accident number three seems sorta foolish. The commute sounds like it stinks big time, but, yikes, drivers don't appear to be very alert there.

Ooo, but the freedom of the scooter.....

No, no!!! Bus! Bike!! Tram!


amybonnema said...

I'm going to just "ditto" all of Laura's comments here. (PS. Glad you're okay.)

Matt Brenengen said...

Wow - you must be doing something wrong. Also, why can't you have to courtesy to have an accident in Minnesota where I could sue someone on your behalf! (I love the part about you taking a moment - while lying on the street - to reflect).

CalypsoArt said...

What Can I say but wow! Twice in such a short time. I'm really glad to hear you're OK. When you got the scooter I was happy you'd have fun transport. However, I was worried about these exact possibilities. You experienced two of the most common two wheeled accident situations. It does take a little time to learn how to anticipate an avoid.

Really glad you're OK and were wearing a helmet.

Ann/SIL said...

I was holding my breath for the last of your story. Don't go for the 3 times is a charm! This will be one of those stories that you reflect on as your child says "Dad, I just bought a motorcycle"!
I'm so glad you are ok....
Thank God for helmets - you were wearing one - RIGHT???

Marcus said...

Dude! What's next, roller blades? Are you the same guy that drove a Dodge pickup once? Take a cab, hitchhike, but do not drive something smaller than yourself. We will start mailing you a real bike in little pieces like Radar did in M*A*S*H, something like a Harley. At least you will be on something that is more substantial.