Tuesday, 7 April 2009

What sort of person keys a car?

Now I don't have the greatest car in the world, but at the same time I don't have an old banger either. I drive an eight year old coupé that will get to 60 in less than seven seconds, has four wheel drive and heated leather seats. It's not an Aston Martin or anything, but it's pretty good. More importantly, it's my pride and joy. I know it's illogical, irrational and ever-so-slightly sad to get so attached to what is essentially a lump of metal, plastic and leather... but I bloody love that car.

All of which makes it even more annoying that I awoke on Monday morning to find that it had been keyed, not once but twice, on two separate body panels. And deep too. These are not fleeting scratches made in hurried passing by some furtive scum. Oh no. These are gouges, deeply and deliberately made. This took effort. Real pressure must have been applied by scum to his keys.

I was hurt first of all, really upset in fact because, as I've mentioned, I love my car. Then I got angry. And I'm still angry now.

Most of my anger comes from just not being able to understand what would lead someome to do this. How inadequate must they feel? And just how disappointed with their own life must they be if they can derive some small pleasure from making someone else's unhappy? Or just how jealous must they be that someone else has a lovely sports car and they do not? Quite apart from the fact that I've worked bloody hard for a long time to be in a position to be able to afford a car like this... and maybe, just maybe, if they're so aggrieved that I have one and they don't, then perhaps they could consider working hard themselves, working towards their own nice car...

Except of course it is foolishness on my part to think that way. Why would such a person work hard to get a good job and earn enough to have a nice car when they can just make other people's nice cars less lovely at the flick (or chiselling gouge, in this case) of a key?

There are other aspects to this story that make me angry too. I reported this to the police, getting a crime number for my trouble. When I asked whether the area in which it happened was a known hotspot for such a crime (since a quick bit of research - okay, I just walked up and down the street and counted - revealed a depressingly high number of other cars have been keyed too) I was told that yes, it was quite common in the area but nothing could be done unless someone was witnessed doing it. The member of staff who took my call then asked me if there was CCTV in the area - a fact I would have expected her to be able to tell me, but there you go. Now I know that realistically the police do not have the resources to crack down on car keying in one small residential area... but the fact that it is so common, and just so accepted, made me angry.

And then there is the question of insurance. Now I have a protected no-claims discount, so theoretically could claim for this without losing that discount but guess what? Even though this has come about through no fault of my own, I would have to pay an excess, and a hefty one to boot, because there is no known third party from which my insurer can reclaim costs. To rub salt into the wound, if I'd been hit by an uninsured driver (a situation in which there would also be no third party insurer to claim against) I wouldn't have to pay my excess, as long as I could prove no blame on my part. But for a keying? Time to get my wallet out.

Except what's the point? Let's say I have the paintwork done. Two different body panels, metallic paint - I don't know but I'm guessing in excess of £400, money I can ill afford at the moment. But let's, just for one moment, imagine that I can't bear to see my pride and joy defaced a moment longer, and have the work done. What then? I proudly bring the car back from the bodyshop, park up in the road outside my home and then... what? A day, a week, a month later? Some other scum comes along with the same lack of intelligence/self-esteem/respect for others/general decency (I would say delete as applicable, but they'll all apply) and keys it again... and so I get into a spiral of expense, bills, and paranoia. I don't want to get to the stage that I'm almost afraid of parking outside my own home, always fearful of what I'll find the next morning. It's sad, but these are the kind of thoughts I've been having.

I almost came to the conclusion that it's just not worth having a nice car. Until I saw, on my research loop of the area, that someone's 1996 entry-level Ford Ka had been keyed too. Don't get me wrong, Ford/Ka owners, I'm not saying that's a poor car... but surely it's not the sort of car that would provoke envy or anger in your average key-wielding scum, is it?

So as it is, I'm applying to get myself on the waiting list for a council garage in the area. God knows how long it will take before one becomes available in my area. Alternatively, someone in the next street is renting their garage out privately... at a cost of £175 per month. It's a measure of how upset and angry all this has made me that I'm actually considering it...

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