The time of year that makes me regret I ever learned to drive, that is.
It starts in February, when I owe the SAAQ 250$ for my toad’s license plate. It then continues in March when I owe them 100$ for my driver’s license. This year, the party will continue for a third month straight when I will owe them 500$ and change for Miranda’s license plate.
(The non-RVers go: “HA! My house doesn’t need a license plate, nyah nyah!” Rae replies: “My house doesn’t require me to pay school or property taxes, nyah, nyah!”)
There is some stuff going on behind the scenes that tells me that I will be taking up BC residency this coming fall. I’ve been warned that BC means ‘bring cash’ and that their driving fees are more draconian than Quebec’s. I find that hard to believe, but even if that’s the case, income tax will be less, so it will all come out in the wash.
What irks me with the SAAQ is that I can’t just send them three post dated cheques tomorrow. I need to wait for the February notice to appear in my mailbox in Gatineau and have said notice forwarded to me. I will then send said notice with payment attached back to Quebec. In March, I won’t need to wait for a notice since Quebec has come up with a really great scheme for nabbing people for lapsed licenses and imposing gargantuan fines on them: don’t send out notices that the license needs to be renewed and let people remember this for themselves. They do make it easy on us: license renewal happens on our birthday, on either an even year or an odd year, depending on the year we were born. So, on my birthday every odd year, I have to remember to send them a cheque. Gee, thanks, this is always what I wanted to do for my thirtieth birthday!!! Finally, in April, I will have to repeat February’s circus.
I’m just glad that this odd year isn’t the odd year when I need to get a new picture taken for my license. This was actually a factor in my decision to take off as quickly as I did. Since you have to be physically present in Quebec to have your picture taken (ie. you can’t send in an authenticated picture the way you can for a passport application) I wanted that two year buffer to reduce the urgency of making a decision about whether or not to go back. Of course, going back to Quebec never was more than option Z on a list of twenty-six options, but it was there (note that going back to my old job didn’t necessarily entail going back to Quebec other than to actually work since I could live in Ottawa, making that option significantly higher up on the list than taking up residence in Quebec again. Just thought I’d clarify).
I did get ‘happy’ news from Hydro Quebec this week. When I sold my house in the spring of 2007, I was sure that they owed me money, but still paid their huge final bill. A few months later, I got a sizable cheque from them. When I left my rental house in the fall of 2008, I once again got a huge final bill, which I paid. Guess what came in the mail this week? Hint: it’s a shame they couldn’t have made the cheque out to the SAAQ since it would have saved me from having to sent it anything in February or March (!). For years now, I’ve dreamt of living ‘off the grid’ and not having to rely on utilities. Now that RVing has given me a taste of what this is like (22$ power bill for January, woohoo!), never having to deal again with Hydro Quebec is another of the many reasons why returning to Quebec is option Z on my list. 😀
(I’ve been told that I can come across as very critical of Quebec. Yeah, so? Just because I come from one of the (not THE, mind you) best places in the world in which to live it doesn’t mean that I have to take what’s wrong with it place sitting down, that I’m not allowed to criticize what’s not working. I vote, so I feel it’s my right to have a say. In fact, I think it’s my duty to not just sit by complacently. At any rate, José Emilio Pacheco sums up my thoughts about Quebec (and Canada, for that matter) perfectly (even though he was writing about Mexico). I’m not sure if my translation from the Spanish is 100% perfect, but it’s close enough:
I do not love my country. Its abstract splendour
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is beyond my grasp.
But (although it sounds bad) I would give my life
for ten places in it, for certain people,
seaports, pinewoods, fortresses,
a run-down city, gray, grotesque,
various figures from its history
(and three or four rivers).)