Monday, March 13, 2006

Online Motor Tax beats the Tallaght to Hollyhead bus. But only just.

I was the bigger fool, because every year around Christmas I would get on the bloody 75 bus and rattle along the roads to Nutgrove to get the Motor Tax renewal disc.

"Why not drive?" I hear you say. Because on the one hand, the beloved was using the car (or more to the point, it was parked outside her workplace and would be used after she was finished working to get home again), and on the other hand I neglected to learn how to drive so I wouldn't be put upon to go on errands like this one...

No bother getting there. Not much trouble handing the paperwork over and paying for the disc. And no trouble bumbling about the shops of Nutgrove Shopping Centre, maybe even finishing off a bit of Christmas shopping while I was there. The problem invariably arose when I decided to go home. The 75 bus seemed only to go one way. No matter how long one waited, usually with an inappropriately large gift like a giant picture frame, or a candleabra, with the rain and sleet blowing up Nutgrove Avenue, the bloody thing never came back!

I decided that far from ending its journey at Dun Laoghaire, the double-decker must have trundled on along the crumbling pier and taken the plunge into the cold water to travel the murky seabed until it reached Hollyhead. Dublin Bus was obviously muscling in on the Irish Sea ferries business at my expense.

One year it occured to me to get six months worth of tax instead of twelve. This would make the disc expire in, say, June rather than December. Why didn't I think of it before!? No more shivering at bus-stops, or trudging along through puddles into Rathfarnham Village in a vain search for civilization, the while discovering the dubious pleasures of the inevitable hole in the sole of one's boot.

So I took the bus in the sweltering heat of June, baked inside the Motor Tax Office and fell, dripping, out of the Shopping Centre. I parched at the bus-stop waiting in vain for the returning 75, before finally hiking up to Templeogue under the scorching sun before limping onto a Tallaght bus and, whimpering pitifully, crawled in the front door to sit steaming beneath a cold shower jet.

Last year we took a different tack, making sure the Motor Tax ran out at the end of March. Now March is a fairly predictable if changeable month. One day can be warmish, the next a fair blizzard. But at least it's possible to predict the weather a bit. I even went so far as to change Motor Tax Offices and got a lift to Clondalkin instead of Nutgrove with my father. We spent an hour exploring the Mill Centre with its various shops (quite like Nutgrove, as it happens), before wrestling with the one-way traffic system and the other irate motorists in the village.

I was pleased when tonight the Renewal Notice was waiting for us on our arrival home from work. On it was information about the online renewal process, a PIN number, and a URL on which to log in. Perfect!

I logged on and answered "Yes" to the first few questions. Then it asked me the big one. "What is the name of your Insurance Broker?"

Oh bugger.

I went out with a lump of paper and a pen in the rain and noted the details from the Insurance Disc on the windscreen. The wind shrieked down the roadway and leaves sped by my head. Large drips fell down the back of my neck from our leaky gutter.

Why me?

I'm informed that the Motor Tax Disc will arrive in the post in about four working days time. That's slightly shorter than the return journey of the 75 bus in my experience. Let's just hope the whole thing is over for another year, eh?

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