Monday, December 11, 2006

My chauffeur is elegant!

“Delivery will be 60€, I’m sorry but here in Spain it is unusual for delivery to be included, we have to employ a chauffeur with his own camion and it is expensive. How do you say camion in English?”

“We would call it a Lorry, a Wagon or a Truck.”

“And chauffeur?” he added “what is the English word for a chauffeur?”

“Driver is the usual word although we do use chauffeur it is reserved for a professional driver of a private vehicle. The English do tend to use French words to differentiate between some terms perhaps it is a more elegant way of saying driver.”

“My chauffeur is elegant! I like that; I will remember that for sure!”

On delivery day the house was a hive of activity every room was affected by the ongoing saga of the building works. I was talking to Manel about his team’s progress when we were disturbed by the call of a clearly irritated chauffeur asking for confirmation of his delivery. Delivery confirmed he turned on his heels and walked back along the track to his camion, checking the clearance between the nearby trees and the load he was to deliver as he walked. We heard the camion approaching and could see the grab above the height of the finca’s fences. The grab brushed aside the brush of the overhanging trees effortlessly, and the camion rolled into sight such a big wagon for such a small load.

Manel and I reacted as one shouting out a warning to the chauffeur to stop, because his grab was about to snag the telephone lines of nearby properties. The chauffeur got out of his cab and began cursing the telephone lines his luck and us. He pushed the lines away from the grab and then returned to the cab. We tried to point out a potential problem with a much larger tree bough just ahead of him but he dismissed us he had already seen the obstacle and taken account of it. He was we supposed, the expert a professional driver he was in fact a chauffeur.

The lorry crept passed the overhanging tree limb, the grab once more pushing against the tree and exerting overwhelming force. The tree moaned and groaned the heavy limb creaked and strained as it was pushed aside by the grab. The chauffeur was contemptuous of our alarm and inched forward. Every leaf on the tree was shaking with the force of the contact between the machine and the tree. Then suddenly there was a loud crack as the bough split and twisted away from the grab before springing back to wedge itself between the camion and the grab. The grab crashed down on the trailer.

Chauffeur or not now he had stop now. Climbing from his cab he looked angrier than ever, and after surveying the damage to his vehicle he cursed once more, though this time at the heavy branch that held his camion prisoner. The Chauffeur was unable to move the camion forward or backwards without compounding the problem. Manel and I unloaded the trailer whilst the Chauffeur spat and swore at the trees.

After assessing the problem he asked for a saw, but instead of sawing he began gnawing his way through the still green timber. The more he twisted the saw the more the blade jammed and the more he cursed. Eventually the bough yielded to the saw and he began to sever the connection between tree and branch. Impatiently the chauffeur began kicking out at the offending limb the effect of which was merely to send the branch swinging; he was clearly frustrated and his attack on the timber became more sustained. He became increasingly frantic, pushing, pulling, twisting and turning the broken limb which was creaking and groaning under this assault, although it still hung by what now seemed only a thread. The Chauffeur gave the branch one final hefty shove with his foot, the branch swung violently away and then back at the Chauffeur catching him full in the face. The branch broke away from the tree and fell on top of the Chauffeur knocking him to the floor of his trailer. When he stood up his face was bloodied and his lower teeth seemed to have punctured his bottom lip. Tearfully he cast the tree branch from the trailer, climbed into his cab

and reversed the camion back along the track to the road. Once back on the road he stopped again and examined the damage to his vehicle. The hydraulic pipes which controlled his grab had been severed in the accident, and the grab was out of action.

As for his injuries, his pride had sustained the worst the cuts and bruises would heal in a week or too.

A couple of days later I heard the sound of a chainsaw coming from the front of the house. It was Jose, slicing up the fallen branch. He began loading the logs into a wheelbarrow for the short journey to his house and I could see that little remained of the fallen oak. Time to reach for my trusty saw that is if I was to benefit from this accidental oak!


Learn Spanish said...

I always thought chauffeur was a French sounding word, at least now I know what it means!

Colin said...

Many Catalans speak French as a third language and English as a fourth; and they often seem to offer the French words which often are similar to Catalan rather than the Spanish word for the subject. The guy in the shop was trying to speak English because he didn’t get to practice it very often, I would have expected him to call the driver a conductor the Spanish term but he introduced the French word instead. The great thing about the English language is that if you have a good word for something it gets incorporated!

Catalonia Weblog said...

Spanish and Catalans use this word "chofer" quite often when they mean driver. They use it indistinctively,too. It doesn't matter if it's a greasy lorry driver or an elegantly suited driver of a limousine. Funny stuff!