MODERN POVERTY (where I decide to get a car)
Last april I decided to get a car.
(Make no judgement all ye who cycle until you read below)
Three years of getting up at cockcrow, cycling to my local train station, cycling from the station to my place of work, working 13 hours, cycling back to the station, getting the train back to my local station, cycling from the station to my home, was taking its toll on me.
It was not so much the physical energy (there was that lovely fifty minutes of sitting in a warm train looking out the window)but the impact on my sleep.
I wasn’t getting my eight hours!
You see if I made the 20.40 train at the end of my shift then I would be home at 21.50, have a shower and be in bed by 22.10. Then I would have to get up at 5.30 the following morning.
Sometimes I likened it to a quick turn around Ryanair flight.
Or a sort of triathlon (Work,cycle,train)
And this was on a good day when all went to plan.
But sometimes the train wouldn’t run. (Snow on the track, leafs on the line, gurriers causing obstructions, rock falls between Greystones and Bray ) and a bus would be supplied instead.
I couldn’t take my bicycle on the bus so I would have to leave it at the station.
This had a knock on effect on the other side.
I would be late or at least just barely make it in the door of work but, worse still, I relied on my bicycle to get me to that 20.40 train at the end of my day.
If I had to walk I would miss my train and would have to wait for the next one at 21.10 and I would not get to bed till 22.40 and then have to be up at 5.30 again.
Not even seven hours sleep.
On top of this was the weather of which I will not go into detail. Suffice to say I live in Ireland.
My colleagues at work thought I was mad!
‘Get a car’ They urge (and stop whining)
‘I am Poor’ I sometimes complain to whoever will listen.
I draw out the word pooooor and accompany it by a moue so I won’t be seen as a whinge.
And I am strangely amused by my poorness.
Or maybe bemused.
It shouldn’t be so.
I work full time.
A 39 hour week (thank you government for giving us back the 2.5 hours per week we fought so hard to lose)
The government is supposed to make things pleasant for its citizens or at least feasible. They seem to have forgotten this. I must remind them sometime.
But that’s a job for another day.
‘So what makes you think you are poor?’ I hear you ask.
well…..(If you didn’t ask, please skip the next four paragraphs, which I will run through as speedily as I can)
Firstly I am taxed mightily because my children are grown up and independent a positive and celebratory fact indeed for me and my children but no regard is given to the fact that I am still paying back loans for them I have to pay my rent (getting a mortgage is not an option at this stage of my life (see previous not so whiney posts) did you know that the word ‘Mortgage’ is old french meaning ‘Death pledge Which brings me to my health insurance
Pause for breath
even though one would imagine that giving the area I work in and of which I won’t mention here it might be given as a bonus as some other businesses which I also won’t mention do but no No health insurance is paid by my emploiters this is not a spelling mistake
Pause for breath
then there is my union fee in case things gear up and the rebellion takes off and we try and get back our lost hours or fight for more staff or better wages the usual things one fights for when on strike On top of that the bank looks for it’s cut (every three months) for what Oh yes to give me back some of my money when I ask for it by way of a machine
Pause for breath.
Then there’s the Gas electricity utility bills they call them come next My phone bill! Yes I talk a lot It all adds up and I am not left with much by the time these have all been paid Not enough to go away on a holiday or to afford a car.
Breath normally again
‘OMG’ another car-less full time employee friend of my years exclaimed when I told her of my plan.
‘A car!! thats a HUGE expense’
This rocked me slightly. I hadn’t owned a car for nearly three years.
Surely affording a car was normal for someone in full time employment?
So ignoring her, I got my car!
AND I’m running into difficulties already.
You see, so excited was I, sitting in this lovely smart machine out of the wind and rain, that I lost the run of myself, pressed the accelerator too enthusiastically and went very fast along the stillorgan dual carriageway.
A simple mistake, it being 6.30 on a saturday morning and no other traffic on the road to flash me or in someway alert me to the fact that this was not acceptable driving practice.
Some Days later a brown envelope drops onto my mat.
Being a modern woman of up to date technology I rarely get paper post so I rip it open eagerly
It’s a speeding fine. Eighty euro and three penalty points.
I am stunned and feel victimized.
How grossly unfair to target my type of employment.
‘If I had been in an ‘nine to five, monday to friday’ job, this would not have happened’ I moaned to myself.
‘I would not have been on the road so early or on a saturday when the road is so empty, instead I would have been inching along in a traffic jam unable to even reach the speed limit and therefore never have to worry about getting a speeding fine’ I grumbled loudly
‘If I had been in an nine to five monday to friday job the train and my bicycle would have suited me fine and I wouldn’t have needed to get a car in the first place.
And hey just a minute!
Whatever happened to the days when a siren went off and you saw the blue flashing light in your mirror and pulled over’
(after a bit of a chase of course.)
‘At least if you are going to get a speeding fine let there be some excitement involved’.
‘Those sneaky speed camera’s are no fun at all’.
I am sitting muttering these random ludicrous thoughts aloud, gazing out the window at the rain, brooding over my ill luck when ANOTHER brown envelope plops damply on my mat.
I shake the drops of rain water off and open it nervously.
The new water charge bill!!
I remember last january seeing a small well dressed woman standing at the junction of dawson street and Nassau street shyly holding forth a begging cup. A homemade sign hung around her neck saying please help.
After giving her whatever coins were in my purse, getting her a tea and scone from the local cafe, curiosity overcame me and I asked her why she had to beg on the street.
She giggled into her glove as she admitted buying her grandchildren christmas presents and now she explained there were a few bills that needed paying which she couldn’t afford.
There are more of us than I imagined, in the same boat.
INVOLUNTARY SIMPLICITY; THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN (where if I can’t change my circumstance then I can always change my attitude).
To be continued.