Wednesday, March 4, 2015

#sol15, Day 4: Car Talk at LuxCar in Las Palmas

In the early 60s, between the University of Zaragoza and the American University in Cairo, I worked for a car rental agency (the LuxCar of the title) in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The office was over the Ford dealership and service center because one partner was the owner's son (not just oldest but only son). The other partner was a retired professional soccer player (formerly with Madrid Real) who also owned and ran a small hotel near Las Canteras (picture below) beach with his brother. Ricardo was as pleasant a person as Jose was not -- and remarkably progressive for that time and culture.

Anyway, when British or American tourists brought in cars for repairs, the mechanics would ask me to come downstairs to the service bay and translate. They spoke no English and the tourists no Spanish. I spoke both but no car talk in any language. So the mechanics taught me all the parts names and explained procedures in Spanish. Since I did not know the corresponding English, I'm not sure how I manage to explain but somehow did. An English language parts manual would have been handy but the dealership did not have one, so I never learned the corresponding English. I forgot the Spanish automotive vocabulary as soon as I no longer needed to use it. A lost language. Only years later did I pick up some car speak in English but never as much as I once knew in Spanish.

A perk of the job wad the use of any car not rented out and weekends would hope for something spiffy to drive around the island and, of course, to the many beaches. My favorite was a small red Austin convertible that looked sportier than it really was. The mechanics looked out for me...anything I drove was freshly tuned up and washed. They would always ask which car I wanted to use so they could have it ready. Sr Muy Mimado Machista complained that I got better service than he did, especially when he had to wait because they were working on mine ahead of his. Of course, I did. He was even more arrogant (I cleaned up the language) to mere laborers. In return, they held him in equal esteem (not).


  1. What an interesting story. Quite an experience. I've never worked overseas - altho my first teaching job was in the NWT.

  2. This is such an interesting story. They way you write it gives me insider sense.