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the road to cheaper motoring

A day in the life of Jack and Jill Average...

7.45 am: The Average household is in more than the usual turmoil. There was a power cut during the night and the alarm didn't go off, so they are late starting. Jill, hair still in curlers, is multi-tasking - scrambling eggs and burning toast, trying to placate the kids because she ran out of their favourite cereal, all while doing some left-over washing up. Her husband Jack isn't the happiest of campers. He had to rush his shave, obvious from the bits of toilet paper decorating his face. Now he can't find some important documents he needs for work. It looks like being one of those days.

8.20 am: That's what the dash clock says. Jack should have left for work half an hour ago. Isn't it typical that the car won't start? It does eventually, but he has to rev up the engine to keep it going. The fault has been brewing for some time, but he never got around to having it looked at. Gears crunch, another problem he's been meaning to get fixed. He makes his way to the end of the drive where he waits impatiently for the passing traffic to clear, riding the clutch as he continues to rev the engine to warm it up and prevent it from stalling. About to take off, there's a bang on the roof - it's Jill waving the missing papers. "Don't forget we've got Bob and Barbara for dinner tonight," she reminds him, "So try to be home early," Jack groans, snatches the folder and nods a surly goodbye.

8.43 am: The kids are already late for school, but they can't go yet, thanks to 13 year old Jake who has only just discovered a form he was supposed to have given his Mum a week ago. Jill hastily fills it in, yells at Jenny who is still in the bathroom, grabs the keys and heads for the front door. A glance in the hall mirror is a reminder that she hasn't fixed her hair. She sighs and pulls a beanie off the hook.

9.03 am: Traffic is bad, even for a Friday. Maybe the rain has something to do with it. The wipers on Jack's car are tantamount to useless and the windscreen steaming up doesn't help. If he wasn't stressed enough already, the poor visibility is adding to it. He almost ran into the back of someone at the last intersection. Approaching the next set of lights, they are just changing. On a dry road he'd pull up, but the car behind is tail-gating, so he guns the motor and makes it through, keeping fingers crossed that there was no red-light camera.

Meanwhile, Jill has dropped the kids off and has just noticed the fuel's nearly out. It never seems to last long and she's positive it has something to do with the fact that her car is a huge 4-wheel drive; but she supposes Jack's right when he says it's safer for her and the kids. As for the gauge sitting almost on empty, that's a two-fold problem: Jack reckons that if it drops too low, dirt in the bottom of the tank might get into the injectors, whatever they are; plus, from a mere driver's point of view, the cheap fuel is the other side of town and she doubts she'll make it that far. There's a service station coming up and she breathes a momentary sigh of relief. Then she sees the price! Not much she can do about that now - maybe she can get away with ten dollars worth until she finds time to top up with discount.

9.12 am: At last, Jack's cruising on a good stretch of road where traffic is moving freely. He fails to see the cop with the speed-gun, but there's no missing the uniformed officer who is waving him down. Explaining that he was only doing the same speed as everyone else gains him no sympathy, just a ticket.

Jill is coming out of a store. She would normally be doing the owner's book-keeping today but, being short on time, she flew in to say she'd come by on Monday instead. That would have taken no more than five minutes, time enough to get a fine for parking in a loading zone.

12.31 pm: Jack should be on his lunch break, only he's wasted half the morning ducking out to shift the car because the only free spots he could get were one hour. So far, he's avoided a fine, but it's costing in terms of work that is now well behind schedule. There's nothing else for it except meter-parking which is exorbitant, but what else can he do?

Jill's back home and glad of it - racing around like a head-less chicken isn't her style. At least most of the shopping is done, though; except she forgot to fill the fuel tank - she'll have to go later, maybe when she picks the kids up from school. And she must tell Jack about the funny noise - a kind-of scraping from the front wheels. It seemed worse after she made that emergency stop; or was it when she scrubbed a tyre on the kerb in the shopper's car park? There's never enough turning-space for cars like hers.

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