With that out of the way, the truth is, one cannot survive without a car in a big city in SA. Or rather one can, but it would be a miserable existence, where one plays a game of Russian Roulette everyday: which form of public transport will malfunction today – train, bus or taxi? Which combination will get me to work alive, and in the shortest possible time, with all my possessions still within my ownership?
Pretty bleak stuff. All my life, my parents would take us where we needed to go – school, out, wherever, in the car. When I went to Stellenbosch, my parents were horrified that I would need to walk to the shops, and walk back from test venues late at night. I wasn’t jazzed about the idea either, but there was no alternative.
I survived, as millions of people do everyday. I now easily walk distances that I definitely would have considered as driveable only before. That’s not the point of this post though.
The other day, I found amongst all the lengthy contracts I signed for my car, a single page summarising the costs, the extras, and the total amount I would be repaying. Every month when I see that installment come off my account, I cringe a little, then sigh.
Seeing that total amount again reminded me that the day the bank gives me my deed, I will have paid back double the original price of the car. I got extremely furious at that thought, and remembered that the finance lady had originally tried to get me to sign for the car at a fluctuating interest rate.
When I reminded her of the email I had sent her indicating I wanted a fixed interest rate, she tried to convince me to keep it linked, as the paperwork was already drawn up, it was later afternoon, she would need to contact the Pretoria office to get new paperwork, and the interest rate is currently in a downward trajectory, wouldn’t I want my installments to fall accordingly?
I had my dad with me in case any shenanigans were attempted, and this was clearly a shenanigan. I told her again that I wanted a fixed interest rate. Within 15 minutes, we had the new paperwork. It made no difference to the installment, and the interest rate was hiked 2 cycles later.
I felt that I couldn’t trust buying a second-hand car in Cape Town. Being a Capetonian, and knowing how Capetonians drive, I didn’t want to go through that hassle. That, and the fact that second-hand cars in Cape Town are not that much cheaper than new cars, especially when they are being financed.
I love Bella – I love driving her around, I love the features, I love that she doesn’t have that “tin can” feel that many other cars in the same bracket do. However, if I were to do it again, I would driven with the family to Worcester or George, and picked up a used car. Ultimately, the car only needs to get me through the 20 minute commute from home to week everyday.