Thursday, June 08, 2006

No. It Won't Fit. No. No. No.

We had a little Barcelona adventure today when we went to FNAC, a giant electronics and media store, to buy a television. Having gotten by so far without one, we finally decided to make the purchase since we want to watch the World Cup matches here at home; and Andrew’s upcoming birthday made it perfect timing. At FNAC, we passed up the attractive, thousand-euro, flat-screen televisions, which make up almost the entire FNAC TV department, and headed to a dusty, neglected corner where the non-flat-screen TVs sit, abandoned, on a few feet of shelving. We chose a TV with a nice-sized screen and began the elaborate process of buying it, which involved, first, leaving the store, since FNAC requires a passport to make credit card purchases; my passport was at home. Then we paid, showed our receipt to a person in another part of the store, and were then directed outside and down the block, where we’d pick up our TV from the cargo-loading area.

The box was huge. The TV hadn’t looked that big on the shelf, but the box was almost too big to lift. Fortunately, a taxi passed by at that very moment. Unfortunately, the TV didn’t fit in the trunk or the back seat. I’m certain the box would have fit if the overly hasty taxi driver had just turned it another few degrees, but no matter. We walked to a busy taxi stand next to Plaza Catalunya, Andrew carrying the enormous box.

Surprisingly, a slew of taxis were at the taxi stand, waiting for fares. This was shocking, since in Barcelona you’re lucky to EVER find a cab, let alone several free cabs in one place. Sometimes, free cabs will sail by, heedless of the desperate, hailing people on the curbs. The taxi situation is endlessly frustrating—but I digress.

We approached a cab. Instantly, the driver began shaking his head. He got out of the taxi and stood over our box, shaking his head angrily. “It won’t fit,” he said. (All of this was in Spanish, but it wasn’t hard to get the gist.) “No. It’s too big.” He crossed his arms, still shaking his head. Andrew pointed out that we hadn’t yet tried to fit it in. “No,” he said. “I know it won’t fit.” Many other drivers got out of their cabs and gathered around, and the discussion grew animated and fervent. They gestured violently to the box and waved their arms around. “No.” “It’s far too big.” “No. It won’t fit.” “It won’t fit.” “No. No. Claro, no.” They were talking to each other now, forming a united front. They hated us.

A larger taxi pulled up. The driver tried to put the box in the trunk, despite Andrew’s calm protestations that it wouldn’t fit in the trunk but would certainly fit in the backseat. The driver, outraged, joined the group. “No. No. No. It is not possible.” He refused to let us try to put the box in the backseat, giving no good reason. “No. Absolutely, no.” The other drivers nodded their approval. “No.” “No.” “No.” We didn’t have a chance. It was probably around now that Andrew began telling me to “Tranquilo,” which unfailingly makes me anything but tranquilo. Taxis—fares—making a living—it’s their job—Again, I digress.

After many more minutes of waiting on the curb with our box, a taxi-van pulled up and took us home, our TV nestled in the trunk with space to spare.

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