I was queuing at the Automobile Association to book my daughter for her driving test. It's going to cost $96 and I am acutely aware that ANZ is paying for it.
OPINION: I am squarely swamped in debt because of the drought, and praying for a smooth run this season so I can dig myself back out of the red.
Interest rates are rising too, which is pretty daunting, especially in the face of the promised final payout recently dropping 25 cents for a kilogram of milksolids.
Before me in the line was a young chap - late teens, early 20s - and I overheard his conversation with the receptionist.
He must have played up at some stage and lost his licence. The woman behind the desk was explaining that, as it had been for longer than one year and one day, he would have to resit all his tests and, because of the circumstances, this would cost $113.
The young man, who was also pushing a pram, which I assumed contained his child, complained about having to pay more and asked for the paperwork to get a grant off Work and Income to pay for it. Obviously he is not working, although he was a fully functional- looking person.
And it really struck me what a waste of time and money this was. He's got a baby. He doesn't work, he must have had money for some alcohol because he lost his licence, he must have money for a car because he wants his licence back again, and Work and Income will pay for it.
He doesn't even have $113 to sort it out himself.
Technically, I don't have $96 either and, if it wasn't for the bank selling me money (at a high price), my daughter would just have to wait and get her licence later. I can't go to Work and Income and get a handout, and I never would.
Then I thought of all the paperwork it would take ... the government has taken his licence because he broke the rules. Now it will give it back if he pays. And he is going to another arm of the government to get a handout to pay the government. All these transactions are costing money and who is paying for it?
This scenario is being repeated by thousands of people all over the country every day. Shame. I can only hope he needs to get his licence back so he can drive to a job interview and get himself out of this cycle of dependency but somehow I doubt it.
A young chap turned up at the farm, working for AssureQuality. He wanted to check all my fence lines to see if my farm complied with the rules for fencing off waterways. He is the third person this year to come and check.
First it was the regional council, which sent me a bill for $600 and also made me do remedial work (to the cowshed, not the fences) that cost more than $2000.
Then it was the Fonterra shed inspector, who was "free". But really I have paid for it because the inspector's salary comes off the milk cheque before I get it. And now this dude who was contacted by Fonterra, so I am paying for that as well.
Ironically, when he came, all my neighbour's beef cattle were playing in the stream, which is double fenced with a big electric shock on my side, and on their side - nothing.
But no-one checks the neighbour because it is not a dairy farm ... Isn't that funny!
* Lyn Webster is a Northland dairy farmer.
- Waikato Times