I refused

I was recently in Spain for a long-ish weekend, to celebrate my youngest nephew’s first communion (the first communion is a catholic tradition by which children around 10-11 years old take the “holy host” for the first time).

It was the perfect excuse to go and see the family, but only for a short time. 3 days is more than enough. Thank you.

I won’t go into too much detail about the worst flight I have taken in my life (several hen parties and stag dos who were getting trashed since way too early in the morning, the smallest seats I’ve ever put my bum on, etc)… But this taught me a lesson: Never book a flight to Spain in the summer season for a outwards flight on a Friday morning… Nightmare.

Well, the point of this entry is to talk about something that really annoyed me, outraged me, disappointed me.

We had a lovely day at my nephew’s communion celebration (we avoided the church bit, thankfully). We saw distant family who we hadn’t seen for years, we had a lovely meal, we danced to terrible music and we had a few drinks. And that’s the cause of the problem.

My brother Juan drove us to the venue – My mum, my brother, his wife, Jon and me. During the journey there, Juan said that he was going to drink, but his wife said that she wouldn’t drive back because she doesn’t like driving on the motorway. All of this was said in a humorous way and nobody took it too seriously.

But come the end of the afternoon, when it was time to go back, my brother was way past being drunk and he was in no fit state of driving. And here is where my disappointment and annoyance come in: My sister in law and my mother were happy to let him drive! I put my foot down and I said that I refused to get in the car if Juan was going to drive. They said that he wasn’t that drunk and that it would be ok. No chance. He was proper drunk.

I said that I’d rather ask for a taxi and at that moment my mother and sister-in-law started seeing some sense. They started discussing the options and finally it was agreed that my sister in law would drive. But my brother wasn’t happy. He felt like somehow we were betraying his trust, and he wasn’t happy about the whole situation. So, his way of getting revenge was to disturb my sister in law all the way down to Motril whilst she was driving (about a 40-minute drive).

I know Spaniards are a bit more relaxed about drink-driving than the Brits (I’ve been in this kind of situation more than once, unfortunately – although not so grave like this time), but this attitude really annoyed me. They all behaved like it was the normal thing to do, and I felt like they resented me for refusing to get in the car with my brother driving.

Don’t they have any respect for the law and the consequences of drink driving? Are they so irresponsible and have no care whatsoever for their own lives and other people’s lives? Did they forget that Juan earns a living with a car (he’s a taxi driver) and needs his driving licence to subsist? If we had had an accident, or if we had been stopped by the police, would any of that have stopped them from thinking that “it’s okay, he’s not that bad”? Will they do it again?

I am not planning on going back any time soon, and we’ll see if we even go for Christmas this year. But what’s clear is that next time, we’re renting our own car and we won’t depend on anyone else.


One thought on “I refused”

  1. I’ve experienced the same time and again when I go back for some event. I can imagine what the ride back was like – I’ve refused to get in the car a few times, to the annoyance of everyone in my party. And this, my dear, is why unlike most Spaniards I’ve met abroad I *never* fantasize about moving back to Spain. Well, not just THIS, but you know what I mean. A lot has changed in Spain, but all those things that drove me out in the first place remain entrenched in the mindset of the community.

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