Jilly hasn’t had a car since moving back to Australia, and instead gets around by bus or Car Next Door. From driving a manual car for the first time in over a decade to generating lockbox codes in the pouring rain, Jilly shares the challenges and joys of neighbour-to-neighbour car-sharing.
“I wanted to support Car Next Door because it’s an Australian business and a startup.”
I don’t have a car. I sold everything to live in the US for work for five years and when I came back I was living near the city and didn’t need a car. I thought about buying one, but when I looked into it and saw that the cost of rego is so high I said ‘There’s no way I’m paying that sort of money.’ In the US it’s only $35 to register a car. It was around that time that I found Car Next Door.
I saw an ad for it online and I looked into it and decided to sign up. I thought it was a great idea and after reading about it I really wanted to use it.
I had been hiring cars from Avis, but with Car Next Door the price is better and I like the fact that I can hire a car for just a couple of hours.
I also had to get a bus and a train to Avis to pick up the car, so I decided to try Car Next Door. I wanted to support Car Next Door because it’s an Australian business and a startup.
“I never say die. I think you have to have that attitude.”
Since I moved to Parramatta it’s even better because I have more choices nearby. There’s a BMW that I drove yesterday, and just up the road Wayne has a Skoda. That was an experience because it’s a European car, but I can drive anything.
David’s car is also just up the road. I saw that it was just up the end of my street and I was really excited. I normally drive automatics and I’m used to just putting the key in and turning it on. So I went to do it with David’s car and put my foot on the brake as I usually do, and I nearly died because I saw there were three pedals and I realised it was a manual. I hadn’t driven a manual for 15 years, but I knew I couldn’t cancel because I was moving that week and I needed to pick something up. I thought ‘No, I’m fine, I can do it. Just breathe in and breathe out and I’ll be fine.’ And I was! I had to do a hill start and everything.
That time I had my daughter with me and she said ‘Oh Mum, it’s a manual!’ When I taught her to drive I got her lessons in a manual and she hated me. I thought in an emergency she needs to know how to drive a manual, but she never learnt. She was watching me drive this manual car and her jaw was dropping open; she thought it was amazing and she said ‘How do you remember?’ and I said ‘It’s like riding a bike!’ I can drive anything: automatic or manual - I’ll just get in and drive.
I never say die. I think you have to have that attitude. You’ve got to be prepared to get in a car you’ve never driven, but the majority are easy.
“I was standing under an umbrella trying to get the lockbox code and I was thinking ‘Why am I doing this?’”
I was driving a BMW yesterday and it was thundering and raining down and I was standing under an umbrella with my phone trying to get the lockbox code and I was thinking ‘Why am I doing this?’. But there was no way I was going to cancel because I realised I was the owner's first rental and I didn’t want to let him down. I had to call the owner, Nagateja, because I couldn’t get his back window to go back up and it was pouring with rain. He was home and came down and showed me the trick - I had to drive slowly around the car park while winding the window up! I always leave detailed feedback on everything the owners should add to their profile - sometimes they are so familar with their own car that they don't remember that is has its little quirks.
“We’re all humans and we’re all doing our best on this planet”
I find the whole thing just fantastic. I think I’ve met every owner that I’ve rented from. David’s lovely. One time I couldn’t find parking so I parked in a timed spot and paid for a few hours of parking and sent him a message to let him know. He messaged me and said ‘You shouldn’t have paid for that, I’ll reimburse you’ but I said ‘No, it’s a nice thing to do and we’re all humans and we’re all doing our best on this planet and that’s just the way I roll.’ I didn’t want him to get fined.
One time when I was bringing Wayne’s Skoda back, I was locking it and his son came out and we had a great chat. I said ‘Now, let’s talk about where you’ve got this lockbox.’ The instructions say the lockbox is on the post outside the number 6 garage. Now he might know which garage belongs to number 6, but I didn't! I told him he should go out and get a number 6 sticker for his garage.
“I’m not a stranger, I’m a good driver”
I live really close to Parramatta - it’s only 5 minutes on the bus to get to the shopping centre and the station. Where I live, I can walk to Coles and the Post Office. If I’m not going in to Parramatta I’ll borrow a car.
Yesterday I just went shopping. I could have taken the bus but I was really glad I had the car in the pouring rain. My daughter said to me:
‘You hired a BMW to go to the shops?! Who rents a BMW out to a stranger?’
I said ‘I’m not a stranger, I’m a good driver, and I’ve met the owner.’
I’m getting a little dog and with David’s car I’ll be able to have the dog in it because it’s pet friendly. I’ve already got something to cover the seats and everything; I always leave the cars pristine.
I tell everyone about Car Next Door. Once I find something I love I just tell everyone. I just can’t help myself!