Updated: May 13
It's been over a month now since I've moved to the west coun'ry and I'm proud to say I'm still alive and enjoying life as a home-owner. That's not to say that life hasn't tried it's best to drag me back down off my new-buyer's high, and even escape from me a few times but I've come to understand, after reading the first of Jen Sincero's Badass series, that when you awake from the 'big snooze' and take giant leaps toward awesomeness, life will throw hurdles your way to try to keep you in your lull (aka comfort zone).
Yeah, I said it so casually, I legit nearly died - but it's also not a big deal because I totally didn't die. Here's where it all started.
So I had a visitor over from Germany come and stay the night, so I thought I'd take him to the main sights in Bristol (the ones that I know about anyway, being new myself). One stunning spot is the Clifton suspension bridge, which I must advise you all visit at some point or another - especially at sunset where you have the prime view over Bristol either side of the bridge and the bridge is lit up making it of itself a sight to behold.
Anyway, it was during the drive back down the steep incline that I first noticed something wasn't right. My brakes, well they weren't... braking...? Or were they? I let out a nervous laugh which prompted my German friend to ask what was going on whilst clearly disapproving of the speed I was building up going downhill. "Oh, nothing, just my brakes aren't working properly" another nervous laugh, this time from both of us. "Oh wait..." My car finally slows down, "maybe it was just a one off, they seem to be okay now but I'll drive slowly anyway".
So I guess that's when I should have been doubting the idea of following through on the three hour journey ahead of me the next day as I returned to Dorking for a work team meeting. But why let a little braking problem put you off? (In fairness, this has happened to me before where the floor mat had raised up and was getting in the way, so I pulled the mat down and assumed this was all it was). Skip forward an hour or so and I'm on the M4, a big, long, fast (rolling my eyes at my work colleagues here) road that I always go the speed limit on and never faster... ahem. Suddenly, four cars ahead of me, someone slows right down to a halt, you can see how quickly the other cars slam on their brakes and justttt manage to stop in time. My brakes decided that now was not the time and they really were not in the mood. Omg I was praying for my car to stop in time, literally praying! Moving down the gears, I actually was maybe like a centimeter away from the car ahead. The car behind me had his hazards on already prepared for an accident.
Again, this was where I really should have stopped and in hindsight I would have, but I didn't and I safely made it to my destination where I decided to drop my car in a local garage - surely I just need new front brake pads right?
Long story short, my car was written off and I was stuck in Dorking. A fellow Bristolian colleague got me back to Bristol and overnight I became... a bus person.
So that was the nearly dying - yeah it was a long story but the story gets worse. What's worse than death, I hear you say? Listen to this.
The Credit Card
So I wake up bright and shining, ready (and very un-eager) to tackle my first ever go at the Bristol public transportation but, groggy eyed, I see a text from my bank. "You have gone into unarranged overdraft, please transfer £500 into your account to avoid charges." You've got to be actually f-ing kidding me?! But it was true, my credit card had double debited my account! I transferred the total of my savings into my current account to avoid the charge and ran for my bus.
Already on edge, I called my credit card company to get them to refund me so I could pay for the bus (and general life). It was going to be a simple call, an "oh oops let's arrange a refund", type of call. But nope, this call handler decided today was her day to maximise her bitchiness levels and start full on arguing with me. And that was it, I finally broke, filled with rage, I anger-cried down the phone at her "I don't have to sit here arguing with you!" and hung up on her. But the floodgates had already opened and I knew I wouldn't stop crying any time soon.
The bus driver tried desperately to understand me when I repeatedly tried to say "one way ticket to town please" between sobs. Guys, I literally cried the whole bus journey into town, cried waiting at the bus stop in town for the free work bus, cried on the work bus, walking into work, and at my desk. All day. Until around 3pm. I'm actually not even exaggerating.
Yes, I have a complaint in progress with these credit card people who shall not be named.
My Little Escape to a Fairytale
The problem with having no money was that I needed to fly to France that weekend for a most enchanting Wedding and yet I had actually £0 in my bank account (for realz). I went anyway, as if I would let a small thing like not having any money stop me from travelling to a princess castle, but anxiety was at an all time high.
I got by with the help of some friends; I didn't let that stop me from getting my princess vibes on. I also didn't get my money back until the evening that I was flying back from France after going into unarranged overdraft again that morning.
It was with great misfortune that someone informed me that these things supposedly happen in threes (I still refuse to believe this) but when I got home I had a letter waiting for me telling me I was a month overdue on my £600 service charge bill.
As you can see, February has been full of financial challenges and I begin March with no car, still a bus person but finally being paid! Thank God!
No Money, No Worries! Actually...
So, here's the low down on what it's like having no car and no money. See, some people think that the services designed for people with a lower income are cheaper so that people with little to nothing in their bank accounts can afford to still meet their basic life necessities. I learned that it's simply not true. For example, this is what it looks like trying to do laundry when you don't have a washing machine or car.
Step 1: Carry Large bag of your laundry publicly 5 mins uphill to the launderette.
Step 2: No change for the washing machines? No worries, just buy something you don't need from your local shop so that you can then get change to use the machines.
Step 3: Are all the working and overpriced £5 small load machines in use? Move all your stuff to a bigger £7 machine instead!
Step 4: Don't want to wait an hour and a half watching your clothes spin round and round? Spend £5 on a return bus ticket to your local wickes to run an errand. (Oh, what's that? The cheaper version of my paint is out of stock? No worries, since I have no car and thus, no way to go to another wickes, and since I have no intention of doing this journey ever again, I'll pay more for a more expensive version).
Step 5: Wait for the return bus and realise it's not going to be for another 20 minutes. Wallow in the knowledge that your laundry is definitely done and just sitting there stewing in the already pretty grimey washing machines.
Step 6: Rush back to your laundry and transfer to a dryer. It's only £1 per 8 minutes. Yeah, 8 minutes. So that's another maybe £3 to vaguely dry your clothes.
Step 7: While you wait for your laundry, pop into the local McColls to see if you can buy some heavily discounted items for dinner. Rejoice when you manage to buy dinner for less than £4.
Step 8: Awkwardly carry laundry and groceries back home and fight to get the keys in the locks without dropping fresh clean (sort of) laundry onto the floor.
Anyway guys, I know this has been a long one and it's mostly been me moaning about (lack of) money, but when I step back out of my problems and look at my life as a whole, I'm still a frickin' home owner you guys!!! Yass betchez just call me the bo$$ and I'mma let money come and find me.
Let Me Downgrade You...
I have some new and exciting news... after speaking with some people doing like a transport roadshow thing at work, I've decided (and because they are going to loan me a bike for free) to downgrade from a bus person to a bike person! Yay! Am I looking forward to it? No. Do I feel I can definitely use it to neutralise my carbon footprint thus granting me less guilt for future travel plans? Yes.
I mean, I haven't ridden a bike since Vietnam, and before that I hadn't ridden in like 15 years or more, but should be a piece of cake. A very wet and soggy piece of cake if storm Dennis is anything to go by. But at least I won't be catching corona virus on the crowded public buses, just pneumonia! And I won't have to miss three buses because it's busy and overcrowded and they refuse to let you on (yeah that was literally my Wednesday evening). #winning
Here's to a significantly better March, and to having that extra leap day in Feb to get my shit together. I won't leave it so long for the next update.