Saturday, May 14, 2011

Driving Me Crazy

For those in the know, we have decided to get a car.  It was with much trepidation, and a bit of number crunching before I finally came to the conclusion that we can afford it.  What with the savings we have realized from the Veteran's Affair contributions to our medicines, I sat down, computed all the numbers, saw how much we were already spending on taxi cabs (for myself to and from work and for him to and from the mall), computed my salary increase for this year, the amount we have also freed up from our monthly expenses for paying debt--- and yes, we can afford the monthly (even on a worst-case scenario).  I know paying a monthly is more expensive than paying cash, but it was what we can afford in order to address what I felt to be a necessity now.

I have had enough of contending with cab-drivers who seem to think we (my husband and I) were tourist and don't know how much it cost going to and from places.  I have had enough of the long lines in malls for cabs, when I am already exhausted from work and grocery-shopping on weekdays (I particularly found it horrible going just to and from the mall and our place during the holidays - talk about so near, yet so far away) .  I have had enough of harassing my husband to get up early so that we can make it on time to the Bureau of Immigration or Veteran's Affair. The pinnacle of it all was when my husband suffered from gout last Christmas and we literally hobbled from Veteran's Affair to the Bureau of Immigration. At one time after lunch we had to take a cab for just the short distance from nearby Jollibee to the Bureau of Immigration.  Of course, the recent increase in cab fare flag down rates all the more encouraged me it was time.  After all, my Office was just a 10-minute drive to home, it would still be less costly over all than a daily commute by cab.

At present, my husband drives me to work.  First, let us make it clear, I have all the intention in the world to learn how to drive. Although I must admit that with the way my husband drives (he was a surprisingly GREAT first time driver in Manila), it is a bit discouraging to even attempt to try. He has been able to weave in and out of Manila traffic without as much as a dent on the car, that it scares me to even try it once with him as my "instructor/backseat driver".  Admittedly, I am a backseat driver when he drives, and he says that half of the time I lead him astray! LOL!  But really, I am still better than nothing because at least I know the general directions, it's just that I never paid any attention at all before with the no-left turns, no-u turns and one ways, and that is what leads us astray.

I know I need to learn to drive for the following reasons: 1) its cheaper because he doesn't have to drive back home and drive again to the Office to pick me up in the afternoon; I can just drive to work, park, and go home with less gas consumption; and 2) if he is unable to drive for medical reasons, then I can drive. A week after we had the car, he suffered again from gout.  I had to take a cab to and from work again for at least a week before he can drive again.  There also may come a time that he is incapacitated for some reason and I have to rush him to the hospital.  Also I want to be able to drive my mother to her check-ups without having to drag my husband out of the house for that.  All these reasons are compelling enough to force me to drive.

So I started my first "driving lecture" last week.  It was on highway driving and at least I got to understand what some of the lines on the road mean and what to do in case the car screeches to a halt for some reason. Pretty soon I will schedule my actual driving lesson, I am certainly looking forward to it.

While I only have a student's permit, my husband already had his foreign driver's license converted.  Take note that a foreigner can only use his foreign driver's license 90 days upon arrival.  We were already on our 45th day I think when we had his foreign driver's license converted.  It is certainly much easier than getting a non-professional driver's license since for conversion you are not required to take a test.  However, you can only get the conversion at the main office of the Land Transportation Office at East Avenue (and I read on the internet District Offices and NOT satellite offices like the ones in the  mall, those are just for renewal).  The requirements are, as follows:
1) Medical Certificate (get that at the accredited clinics near the LTO)
2) Drug Test (also at the accredited clinics near the LTO)
3) photocopy of passport showing bio info and latest arrival date
4) photocopy of ACR card; and last but not the least
4) photocopy of foreign driver's license.

The medical/drug test cost P400 over all.  The filing fee with LTO cost P618 (approximately P700), I think.  It took an hour or less to have the medical/drug test.  It also took an hour or less to process.  But I must admit, the processing time for us was short also because my cousin was in the Licensing Section. :p  But I would like to believe that if it was just a regular Joe, it still wouldn't take more than 2 hours at least.

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