Driving Me Mad

I went to collect my new car yesterday – a Very Smart XV “with all the trimmings”, including a camera to help you reverse without running over the dog, or forgetting to open the gate, and gear levers behind the steering wheel – just like a Formula One driver. It comes with a dashboard screen which provides so much data I will have little time to keep my eyes on the road. I will feel good, quite cool actually, as I cruise around town between traffic jams… Leather seats and that lovely smell of “new” which one hopes will last forever. Do they sell a “new car smell” aerosol?

Why did I do something so unecological as to buy a new car? Well, I did have a very useful one but it was stolen from outside a restaurant where I was having dinner with my son. Most expensive meal of my life! It was recovered a week later from INSIDE a supermarket where it had been used, and severely abused, in a failed attempt to steal a cash machine. I filed for divorce – desertion and criminal activity – and subsequently received a one-time payment of 10.5 million pesos (about US$21,000) which was, I believe, fair. Yes, cars are more expensive in Chile then in the U.S.A.

I had long wanted to abandon the car as my primary means of transport and decided on two bikes: one a Harley Davidson for the major journeys and the other a lightweight mountain bike for the shorter trips, but Mrs. Eneldo put her foot down (on the brake, not the accelerator) and said it would have to be the Harley or her. I thought this through for 48 hours and then voted on the options: Harley – 49%; Mrs. E – 51% and so that is why I decided on the Very Smart XV.

I was surprised by the salesman. He was extremely polite but had no idea how any of the car’s many gadgets worked (I love gadgets!) and so we had to look them up in the 2.5 kg Technical Manual. This took ages as the manual was in Spanish but the “systems voice” spoke only mechanical English (Japanese was not a very helpful option…) and, not surprisingly, turned out to be a major test of our teamwork skills. In the end, there was no way the car’s “Greentooth” (ecofriendly version of Blue…) would pick up the signals from my cellphone so that meant homework for me.

I finally drove away, happier than a pig in mud, only to run out of gas less than a mile from the Showroom. I mean what could be worse! Proud owner of a brand new Very Smart XV stranded just minutes after being given the key! My smile of self-approval turned to a distorted look of disgust. How could they do this to me? What would it take to have a little fuel in the tank when you have just handed over a fat check – 40% more than the insurance payment!  I walked in silent rage, kicking stones, back to the dealer who received, probably, his most astonishing ever Personalized Customer Service Response. “How could you possibly be so @$$#*&!? Where is the Boss? No, not him, the Big Boss…” Once I had let off some steam, I calmed down until the salesman very foolishly remarked that gas was expensive and dangerous to store in the Showroom… Thereupon I blew another barrel of steam!

When I came back to earth we solved the problem amicably; well, they were very nice and I just sulked. A can of “gas” was produced, which invoked sarcasm from me… I was assured this would be enough to get me to a service station where I could fill up.  For just a few pesos all this could have been avoided, I pointed out to flat smiles. Finally, I cruised home “in style” with my mood on the up. At home I spent about 45 minutes playing with the car’s gadgets. Then, when Mrs. Eneldo got home, I offered her a ride in my new Very Smart XV and she smiled approvingly. We got in and I turned the key; the battery was dead! I certainly did not deserve this. That was enough for one day. This car was doomed… 

For sale: 2012 Very Smart XV with only 83 km (50 miles) on the clock; one owner; will consider part exchange for a Harley and a mountain bike.

I remain convinced this could only happen to me… And you?

Santigo Eneldo

(Harley and other offers to Santiago@yahoo.com)