Jeanie has a new car. Her previous one, a Ford Fiesta has served her well. It has been on a long-term, four year, contract rental with the local Ford garage. The email from the garage gave her three options: your contracted term is coming to an end; you may purchase the vehicle at a very reasonable price, you may extend the contract for a further period, there is a ‘get a new car’ option. She has a new car. At last she has a new car. It has been something of an ordeal.
The new car was ordered more than four months ago, plenty of time to get the matter sorted before the old car had to be returned to the garage. Delivery date was promised for the middle of September. She got the car on the second Monday of October. The promised delivery date kept being put back and back.
‘The car is coming from Romania’.
Not being driven we hoped.
‘It is on a ship sailing through the Black Sea.’
A further delay.
‘It’s on the wrong ship.’
‘We don’t know where the ship has got to.’
During this time several visits had been paid to the Ford garage. A number of interviews with a very pleasant, business-like Alma. Vigorous, enthusiastic Alma and her wrist tattoo proclaiming ‘flying free’. The tattoo seemed absolutely appropriate. Alma was the personification of a free spirit. She knew her job. Selling cars. Jeanie knew her mind. A new Fiesta but automatic transmission this time. Alma soon changed Jeanie’s mind for her.
‘Let me show you the best bargain. Look at this Eco-Sport model.’
The shape didn’t fit Jeanie’s image. The colour was wrong. It was too big.
‘Have you considered the Puma. Come and see mine.’
Alma has a Ford Puma. The Ford Puma in the same configuration as Alma’s can do everything a girl dare dream of. And everything a boy could dream of.
The first meeting with Alma about the matter saw the new car ordered and financial details discussed. Because this was a new contract, a parcel of documents would have to be assembled and presented to the garage. Having gathered the parcel of documents together, a further visit saw them being handed over for copying: passport and driver’s licence to identify the new owner, bank details and copies of bank statements, receipts for local taxes, proof of income, evidence of legal right to reside in Spain as a foreigner, P60, proof of where the new owner lived. Spain loves its paperwork. And a bank transfer was signed in favour of the garage to secure the order.
The waiting began. The order was very carefully timed to coincide with the expiry of the previous deal when the old (four-year-old) Fiesta needed to be returned to the garage. Alma would confirm the actual delivery date in due course.
‘Meanwhile here is a Puma brochure. It is in Spanish but the illustrations are good.’
The glossy illustrations were very good. Inability to read the technical Spanish hindered understanding of the very clever potential of the new car. Jeanie knew the basic facts: Puma, white, SatNav, automatic.
Still the waiting went on. Photographs in the brochure were pored over.
‘Did you know there is a video camera at the back for when you are reversing?’
‘Just like my VW then.’
‘There are proximity sensors all-around.’
‘Just like my VW then.’
‘It can park itself. I wonder how that works?’
Jeanie and I have frequent inflamed discussion about parking, especially when doing the actual parking.
‘Just like my VW. Personally, I never use ParkPilot.’
‘There is a blind spot indicator in both wing mirrors, if someone’s close on either said.’
‘There’s nothing like that on the VW.’
I was beginning to get a bit sick of all the features her car was going to have. If it got delivered.
Another phone call from Alma.
‘I am so happy. All the paperwork is approved and your new car is ordered. We are sorry, there is a delay from the factory. Not this month but next month.’
‘But I have to return the Fiesta this month.’
‘Don’t worry. We don’t need the Fiesta. Keep it until your new car arrives. July keep an eye on your bank account. The finance department might take the 4900€s for it, the final purchase price payment.’
‘I’m happy to pay another month’s rental.’
‘No. The finance department may need the full amount.’
There were hurried discussions with the bank. That account never has more than a month’s housekeeping in it. Never more than three figures. In the end, the finance department did not attempt to collect the full final purchase payment.
Last Saturday, there was an unexpected call from Alma.
‘You car is here. We need to prepare it before delivery. Can you come on Monday?’
Of course my wife could come on Monday. Who could have refused? An appointment was made for noon. High noon! I was taken along to witness the new car gloat. Alma was busy. She was doing what she usually does: sell cars. Our appointed time slipped further and further away. Jeanie patrolled the lines of new and old cars on the garage forecourt. No sign of a new Puma in white.
Ultimately, after she had demonstrated two, second-hand cars to her prospective purchasers, Alma glided over to us. Actually, she clacked over to us because her elegant slightly raised shoes went tap, tap, tapping their way across the car showroom floor, echoing as they advanced. Idly, I wondered if Alma did Flamenco dancing. She had the figure and verve for it. This was Spain, after all.
‘I get your car, then we talk,’ Alma said. This was getting on for an hour after our appointed noon show-down.
Disappearing to the floor below ground floor, Alma reappeared driving a pristine new, white Ford Puma. It took only a short session sitting at her desk to hand over the keys and documents of the old car and receive the keys and documents of the new one.
‘Now,' said Alma. ‘I show’.
Given that Alma hails originally from Madrid, her English is good. Functional. Basic. Not idiomatic. She could not be mistaken for a grammar and syntax loving Englishwoman.
A lot was to be shown. Jeanie sat in the front driver’s seat so she could press buttons, turn keys, familiarise herself with handles and levers. Alma was in the front passenger seat. I was relegated to the back. Gradually, marriage is beginning to show me where I belong.
Alma’s showing took well over an hour as the toys and trinkets of the new car were demonstrated. The steering wheel is more complicated than the complicated steering wheel on my car. There was a lot for Jeanie to learn.
‘Here is cruise control. Here is proximity control. Here turn on the sensors or turn off. Here the telephone.’
Taking Jeanie’s mobile phone, flashing fingers across the dial, she quickly and expertly transferred all Jeanie’s contact numbers into the car’s prodigious memory.
‘I worked for Vodaphone before,’ she smiled. ‘Now ask the car to ring your husband.’
It did and informed Jeanie that it was doing it.
‘Here the radio. Tell me station to pre-tune.’
It was a radio station blaring pop-music. I requested Classic FM but it was not available. The pop-music was thankfully turned off.
‘Now we plan a route,' Alma announced. ‘We go where?’
‘Home,' I suggested.
‘No,' Alma said. ‘Somewhere exciting. We go Cartagena.’
I had thought home might have been quite exciting. It was well-past my lunch time. However, Cartagena was fine. A few buttons were pressed, the map popped up on the screen taking us to Cartagena. It is one of my favourite places in Spain, under an hour away on the motorway. You get close up to the ships in the harbour. There is a wonderful pedestrianised road with fabulously designed balconies. These days, I choose not to scramble over the steps and ledge of the glorious Roman amphitheatre. Cartagena is a busy, bustling, touristy place. Parking can be tricky. The Sat Nav almost identified a vacant parking spot.
‘Now. Driving modes. Four settings. Here economy, next sport, next slippery road and finally trail for a rough road.’
Jeanie wasn’t sure when she would use any engine mode other than economy.
The way to have a massage from the front seats was demonstrated. As was the special button to call emergency services in a road traffic crisis. The position of the steering wheel was adjusted for maximum comfort. Out of the car, the clever boot and boot cover was demonstrated.
‘Now. Drive,’ said Alma, standing to one side and smiling. I was allowed to take the front passenger seat. It was well on the way to three p.m. when we arrived at home. I was starving.
I am not the least bit jealous of my wife’s new car. But I would love a chance to drive it.
‘Not yet,’ she says.