You could say that the Celtic Tiger economy was good to me. I remember my lovely bank emailing me offering me overdrafts for no reason. They gave me a credit card with a €3500 limit, although I’d only asked for €500. My overdraft once stretched to an impressive €1750. My bank manager, a lovely man, who wore a suit a bit too trendy for a bank and had funky hair, and who you just knew played in a band at the weekends, used to give me auto loans, so it didn’t look like I was getting loans for no good reason. I spent the money unwisely. I have a veritable video-shop-worthy collection of DVD boxsets. I had 3 pairs of €250ish MBT shoes (they mimic walking in your bare feet while still being shoes – it seemed essential at the time). I paid over €2000 to a personal trainer, and forked over €1400 to Motivation Weight Control Clinics. In Christmas 2007, I spent over €1000 on Christmas presents. There were weekends when I took a taxi five times and there were weeks where I ordered pizza for delivery four nights running.
With the credit crunch came a new regime in the bank. The young and funky bass-playing manager was replaced by an older woman who was nerdy in a really lovely way. She really cared about me. She used to offer me motherly advice. She was genuinely concerned when I couldn’t pay for the second year of my masters (I ended up throwing myself on the mercy of my parents’ credit union). She became skilled at saying no to me, and was kind when she robbed me of my overdraft and when I surrendered my credit card she snipped it up almost lovingly. She once rang me to see how I was doing, as I hadn’t been in the bank for a while.
My baby sister has always been better with money than me. Two years ago, she bought a car. Within a few months, she went abroad. I partially took over the car payments and brought the car up to Dublin. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t keep up the payments for all that long and had, essentially, a free, brand new car.
My driving history is almost as inglorious as my financial history. I passed my test on the fourth go, having failed previous attempts for breaking red lights and being bad at turning left. This brand new car was gradually ruined, the inside filled with cigarrete ash and the leavings of cornish pasties and chocolate muffins and the outside scratched in a dramatic fashion, as if I had used it to fight off a pack of male tigers in heat, and I was emitting feline pheremones.
“What does all this have to do with Project Connor?” I hear you cry anxiously.
Well, the car has served me well, and I am grateful for it, but it is now the symbol of my downfall. I still haven’t attempted the walk to work, as it sits beguilingly outside the front door, calling to me from my bed that I don’t need to get up, in fact, I shouldn’t get up so early, for the good of my health.
On my drive home from work, I pass no less than three places that are easy to park at and that serve chicken fillet baguettes until after 5:00pm. The drive home is treacherous in a way that I never imagined.
And even though I have banned smoking in my lovely new cottage, I have yet to enforce the ban in the car.
So grateful and all as I am for the car that I have treated shamefully, I do hope my sister returns to Ireland soon and I can make a new start without it.
By the way, I do realise that I am a bad workman, blaming my tools, but Dr Phil would tell me to change my surroundings so that I can dump behaviours that don’t work for me. If Dr Phil says it, it must be true.