Friday, August 16, 2013

Car Talk and a little blue Fiat

So it's June and  I am spending six weeks in El Paso, Texas with #1 Son and his daughter, Darling Granddaughter #1.  As you can see, El Paso is right next to the Mexican border. Driving to the hospital where Son works, you can see the river, the border, the fence, two bridges and, beyond them, the sprawling city of Juarez, Mexico. 

And yes, holy cow, it’s hot there. Over 100 degrees every day. Well, that's not exactly true, as one day it only reached 99. But you can see the stars at night and the sunsets are spectacular and the air is clean. Every tree and bit of shade is cherished.

Though the freeway system looks a little crazy in the picture, it doesn't compare with driving in Salt Lake City, thank goodness. 

At the airport I rent a car, a KIA Forte. Now, you should know I’ve never cared much about cars. (I tell Mr. J I've rented a Ford until I check again.)

After a couple of weeks, a rubber strip that is connected to each front bumper (I never figure out what it is) starts to sag until it nearly touches the ground. Not good, I think. If one end should come loose and wrap itself around the wheel at 60 mph, not good at all. So I call the rental agency and switch cars.

The next car is a Nisan 300. Very nice, sporty, drives well, but has no key. I’ve never driven a keyless car and they have to show me how to turn it on. So I am cruising down the freeway and have a sudden thought: they never told me how to turn it off! A quick glance downward reassures me, as “stop” is right below “start” on the same button. Whew! 

Darling Granddaughter loves this car, as she can hold the remote in the back seat while I drive and I think she feels very important. That's a big deal when you're five-going-on six. 

We only have a four week agreement with this agency, (and then the prices go up), so I make another trip out to the airport, return the Nissan, and check in with the competition. The agent frowns. “This says compact. Don't you need an upgrade, with more space?” Since he doesn't offer a free upgrade I say, "No, a compact is just fine." He frowns again . . . “Well, we do have a Fiat,” he says, looking doubtful. “Fine,” I said, as I know nothing about cars. Whatever.

So I walk out to the lot and there it is: A bright blue Fiat 500. I burst out laughing because it definitely IS a compact. And, well, cute. When I pick up Darling Granddaughter from Summer Day Camp, her blue eyes widen.

“I love this car, Grammy J!” she exclaims, and I must admit it is a hoot to drive. Convenient, everything on the dashboard  just where you need it, plenty of guts, a dream to park, and efficient AC, which you definitely want in El Paso. We never see another one like it, which makes it easier to find in parking lots. 

Raise your hand if you've ever lost your car in a parking lot . . . Class, discuss. 

So I call Mr. J, who is flying out to see us in a few days. “We may have to add you as a driver on the contract when you see this car,” I tell him. "You're really going to like it."

Plus, even if he's in the throes of a heart attack, I WILL NOT DRIVE HIM ANYWHERE. PERIOD. Many wives will understand this. Class, discuss.

Ladies in the class, raise your hand if you refuse to drive your husband ANYWHERE. 

Even the dashboard is blue . . . 

"It will be better for the marriage if you can drive it, even if it costs more to add you to the contract," I tell him. He mulls it over and agrees. He's all for saving the marriage, too. 

After he arrives, we learn that due to our preferred membership status, the spouse is automatically added as a second driver of the car, so I happily hand him the keys to the little blue Fiat. It becomes the preferred car for the four of us (instead of son’s old Honda Civic) for the rest of our visit.

Even though I don’t really care about cars, I really did like that little blue Fiat . . . .


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