I took my hire car back today, gearing myself up for a battle. Though we’d made the smaller car work out for us, it was annoying because it wasn’t the car I had booked and was only slightly bigger than my own car and so we hadn’t been able to take all the things we wanted and had had a dangerously obscured back window. Plus I had been lied to. I had said that it was smaller than I had expected and the woman who’d handed me the keys hadn’t said, “Yes that’s because it’s not the car you booked,” but had just commented that lots of people say that. Which could be true if they keep giving people the wrong cars.
Anyway I was all geared up for an argument about it, but when I got in and explained what had happened to the one man working in the shop, he agreed that I had got the wrong car and acknowledged why that made the entire hire a bit of a waste of my money and when I suggested that I shouldn’t have to pay he said that he would waive the fee and then asked if that was enough to make me consider using the firm again.
Having had to fight Yodel to finally get them to half acknowledge that they’d made no attempt to deliver to my house (they still fudged it and said something about the delivery having been mistakenly marked as “carded” when in fact no card had come through the door - because no one had come to the door, which they didn’t say), it was a surprise and a relief to have a business own up to its errors and make up for them. The hire car had been about a third of the expense of the holiday, so it was a bonus to get that back (I thought they’d suggest that they drop the charge to the price of the smaller vehicle). If they’d told me on the day that they’d fucked up and not got the car I wanted but would I take the smaller one, then I would have had little option but to agree. So the initial attempt (either deliberate or accidental) to obfuscate and pass off the smaller car as the one I’d ordered lost the company money.
But it felt good to have finally stood up for myself. Something I should have done at the beginning, but then I doubt I would have got a free car for a week! Bang!
We got back into holiday mode (if now at home) and had a relaxing lunch at Wagamamas, with Phoebe asleep as her food went cold and then going to the park to play in the sand pit. We’d already been playing with our own sand table at home (the replacement for the one that had caused all the Yodel fun) and I still had sand in my shoes from the beach and here we were again in more sand. What’s with kids and sand?
I don’t care because I love sand too and I made more sandcastles which Phoebe immediately destroyed. Then she got bored and went to play elsewhere in the big sand pit, but I kept making sand castles. And realised I was a 48 year old man sitting on his own, surrounded by children, building loads of sand castles. And I wondered how that must look. Then I wondered if it was possible that I have just imagined that I have a wife and child and that I was in fact genuinely just a 48 year old man on his own making sand castles. How can I be sure? Delusional people, by their very nature, are not aware of their delusions. What if I have imagined everything. And if so why haven’t I imagined myself a better career than I have? My delusions have the paucity of ambition of Gary Sparrow.
Worse still, what if I was an imagined character in someone else’s delusions?
I hope my wife and daughter are real. At least if not I did imagine well there. I mean much too well. To the point where if I had any rationality left I would realise that I couldn’t possibly have got that lucky and the whole edifice would come crashing down.
One boy in the sand pit was completely naked. He was a touch too old for this to be cute, though too young for it to be weird. His mum was trying to convince him to put his clothes on, but he didn’t want to. “No one else is naked,” said the mum, but the boy didn’t care. And I could understand that. Why should he conform to everyone else’s reality (especially when we have no way of knowing what the actual reality is)? If he wanted to be nude then it didn’t really matter. Why encumber yourself with clothes on a sunny afternoon? I used to resent being dressed as a kid and would walk round the house naked until I was a lot older than this kid. Clothes are fucking stupid. It’s the rest of us who are idiots for buying into them.
Anyway he resolutely refused to get dressed and civilisation did not crumble and no one cared. Another small victory.