I’m still desperately trying to find someone or something else to blame but am reluctantly coming to the conclusion that I will just have to shoulder the embarrassment and accept full unmitigated responsibility.
Various possible reasons for my vehicular faux pas have crossed my mind.
It could have been Amanda’s fault for not barking out her usual driving instructions and warnings; it could have been Amanda’s friend Christine’s fault for causing us to hire a larger car than the one that we normally require for two people; it might have been the hire companies fault for renting me a short and fat car rather than a long and thin one; or it could have been the fault of the architect for Lugo City Council who designed the most ludicrously laid out underground car park in the World.
But at the end of the day it was me that was driving; me who didn’t allow enough space when negotiating round a large concrete post; and me who remodelled the back passenger door and quarter panel of an almost new, pristine white Kia Cee’d Diesel Estate, beyond the repair of even the largest bottle of T-Cut.
My passengers reacted with surprising calm as I reversed the battered and bruised Kia away from the immovable upright trying to minimise additional damage, adjusted my angle to gain adequate clearance, and proceeded to complete the manoeuvre to change levels and find a car parking space. I was expecting either yelling or laughter as a minimum, but neither was forthcoming as we pulled into a bay more suited to a Fiat 500 than a modern estate car. There is something very wrong about a car park where it is impossible to find a space where it is impossible to park with both wheels inside the white lines.
We got out and surveyed the damage, and in the fluorescent-tube gloom of parking level -2 first impressions were that I might have got away with it. Nothing was hanging off, nothing too badly buckled, and no masses of paint missing. We locked it up and went shopping and as my two passengers scoured the never-ending shoe shops, I wallowed in a combination of frustration and embarrassment and tried to put on a brave face.
In the plain light of day the diagnosis was rather different. The rear door and quarter panel were badly dented and gouged, the whole area of damage measuring about 50cm by 50cm, and going on past UK repair shop experience I estimated that the damage would likely be in excess of €1,000.
There were four long days to wait before I would find out my fate. I spent time mentally practicing the Spanish for ‘I am afraid that I’ve had a little accident’ and ‘Next time I will hire a smaller car or find a bigger car park’. All the time still wondering whether I could get away with saying ‘My wife did it’.
The non-English speaking but kind lady at Hertz was very nice about it, as though it was the kind of thing that happened on a daily basis (and it probably does). She surveyed the damage, tapped away at her computer and then informed me that she’d be taking the princely sum of €361 from my credit card, a card which she didn’t need as worryingly they already had the details.
Now we’re back in England I think that I have all the documents I need, and there are many, to jump through the hoops imposed by my ‘Annual Excess Insurance’. Hopefully I’ll get my money back within a couple of months and all that it will have cost me is a huge dollop of pride!