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Saturday, November 15, 2003

Pearce Family ‘New Vehicle Games’
Previously on this site I shared Pearce Family “Travel Games”….we have since developed a new and unique set of games to accompany buying a new vehicle.

The Playing Field

After months of rocketing around the city in taxis we felt we had tempted fate enough and decided to buy our own vehicle. We decided to buy a new Mitsubishi Pajero.
Yes, yes I can hear you now, those of you on the green West Coast, scoffing about an environmentally unfriendly SUV. I’m sure the TC is still running letters to the editor condemning them and their evil drivers. But before you scoff too much, consider this. These big vehicles fit 7 ; we want to travel and camp on the weekends; we have teenagers who don’t want to be seen in public with their parents but perhaps might be persuaded if they could bring a friend. Besides, gas is cheap here (under 40 cents a litre). Case closed
The playing field also requires an understanding of ‘valet parking’ which is part of our housing deal here. If you imagine valet parking as being underground parking with a smart looking valet who efficiently drives your vehicle up to the front door …you must quickly get rid of that image. Here valet parking means that beside our building is a narrow strip of pavement about 2 typical driveways in length and width. In this space are parked all the vehicles belonging to everyone in the building. The ‘valets’ supposedly have a key for each vehicle and jockey them around in this rat run all day long.

Let the Games Begin

These games are best played on the first day owning the new vehicle. The plan is for Bob to drive the kids to school and me to work so we don’t have to take taxis.

“Can you hear me now?”
This game is played by Bob trying to use the intercom to call down to have the ‘valets’ get the car ready for us. We had been told by Abdul the doorman to follow this procedure, and in fact we were shown how it worked on the day we moved in. The intercom is a box on the wall with a small viewing screen, a phone receiver and a series of buttons, one with the image of a key on it. Despite all manner of button punching and ‘hello’ , “ hello??”, “Heellloooo!!!” there was no response. Perhaps the person on the other end was scared off by hearing ‘evil morning mom’ in the background saying “look, we have to leave, get moving’, “if you went to bed earlier mornings wouldn’t be such a problem” “there’s noooo waaay you’re getting an allowance if we keep having mornings like this”

“Monster Truck Envy” this game follows “Can you hear me now?” as Bob goes downstairs to find the unresponsive ‘valet’. Eric, Emily and I arrive soon after to find our Pajero blocked in and a worried ‘valet’ unable to find the keys to move the offending vehicles. He eventually wakes up Abdul the doorman who arrives in his nightshirt, surveys the scene and goes off to wake up the owner of the offending vehicle. Time is ticking, Eric and Emily are sitting in the back seat of our running vehicle…they have already been late too many times, 1 detention already….time runs out and they hail a cab and rocket off to school. Bob appears calm on the outside, but I see his eyes darting here and there examining curbs beside the neighboring road, and the space between vehicles…After almost 25 year of marriage I can read his mind … “hmmm, if I move forward just a bit, then turn sharply to the right, then cut hard and back up a bit, and then if I can just bump up over that curb, cut her hard to the right, bump up over that other curb…oh, if only I had a monster truck I could just blast right out of here…”
Meantime, no one can wake the offending vehicle owner. Amidst the scurrying here and there woman I work with comes out, sees the commotion and offers me a ride to the college in her car which is free of offending vehicles. So off I go to work, leaving Bob standing there telling Abdul it no longer matters as there is no one left to drive anywhere anyway.

“Meet the local constabulary”
This game is played solo by Bob after a second cup of coffee and, feeling fortified, he heads back downstairs to try again to drive the new vehicle. It’s looking good, the offending vehicle has been moved, our vehicle is free. Yipee, head for the hills! Freedom from taxis! The power to go anywhere, anytime! He heads out into traffic, all’s well… round the first corner….all’s well…..right turn at the next corner….oops, all’s not well. The police officer who was beside him at the last light follows him around the corner and pulls him over. So, who would have thought, in this place of crazy traffic, apparently no speed limits, U turns allowed and encouraged, parallel parking on the street in any direction regardless of which direction traffic is going in, no seatbelt laws, no laws re smoking while fueling up or even turning your car off while fueling up…..there actually is a law here against turning right on a red light. The police officer, who didn’t speak English, apparently took pity on Bob and didn’t give him a ticket…he must have know it was just a ‘game’

Of course, it’s easy for me to talk about all these ‘games’ since I haven’t got the courage yet to do much driving….I bet I can invent a few new games myself….to be shared in a future update !

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