Hiring a satisficing car in Portugal Part 2
So it came to be that we went to the Algarve three years in a row – a few years ago. I’m not a satisficing convert now, but have to agree that the second year our holiday was quicker to start, and better somehow. A great example of this was the hire car episode.
My brother and his family planned to holiday with us, and the two families would share a villa. Following his modern languages degree my brother has worked in sales for various companies and is much more ‘travelled’ than me – the tourism lecturer. Like other sales folk who had a company car as a rep in their first and subsequent jobs, and an awareness of a company culture that measures an individual’s hierarchical status by what car they were provided with – my brother is a ‘petrol head’. His greater travelling and motor-vehicle knowledge meant that for our first Portugal holiday he took the lead in determining the hire car issue. The research he’d undertaken was along the lines of ‘let’s ignore the main providers, and go with a local firm. I’ve identified one whose cars are a little older, but less than half the price of the main hire firms’. I was slightly surprised by his willingness to go for an inferior car, but had to admit to his logic that the car was really only needed to get to the villa, and some local excursions and would soon be full of beach sand anyway. Moreover, a lecturer’s salary tends to imply that generally speaking I’m more familiar with ‘budget’ than ‘luxury’ when it comes to hire cars, indeed many other aspects of holidays. So it was we both booked with the local firm, paying deposits over the internet.
On arrival many months later, and following the specific anxiety of the wait at the luggage carousel, we were ready to find our cars. Of course, it was a hot and sticky day and we were all clothed in UK apparel suited to the weather for the early morning departure from the UK rather than arrival in the mid-afternoon sun of Faro. In the arrivals lounge we duly followed the signs for ‘hire cars’ pushing our trolleys loaded with the retrieved suitcases. Shortly we passed the smart desks of Hertz, Avis, Europcar, Holiday Autos and the like with their smiling staff in neat uniforms. We then came to the end of the arrivals hall; here we had to leave the trolleys. So lugging heavy suitcases we emerged from the air-conditioned hall into the full force of the searing heat in the covered car park. We then passed the neat rows of the brand new hire cars of Hertz, Avis, Europcar and Holiday Autos etc. with smiling and laughing tourists loading them up and setting up the their TomToms. At the end of the covered car park, we merged into the blistering full sunlight and crossed a large car park. It was at this point that my sister-in-law questioned my brother, ‘you do know where you’re going, and we seem to have gone passed all the hire cars’. ‘Yes, it’s just over here’. So across another car park we toddled dutifully, my brother in the lead. After crossing over a road and slipping through a hole in the fence, I did think that I noticed my brother’s resolve begin to falter, especially as thunderous eyes were upon him. What seemed like an age longer we came to a queue in front of a little shed. We’d arrived. What was more rewarding was they were expecting us, and two three year old cars with a few dents and bruises, but otherwise perfectly ok were waiting for us.
For any fellow petrol heads reading this you’ll sympathise with my brother who was given a fifth generation Ford Fiesta Style Climate, while I had a newer and better spec Renault Clio. He was gutted, I like to think. Importantly though, they both worked fine and were considerably cheaper than anything the international firms had to offer. The following year our return to the Algarve and use of the same local hire firm meant that our journey through arrivals to the little hut was an entirely different experience. We were in the know, we were local. Rather than jealously observing the ‘Avis’ families, we smiled to ourselves knowing how much more they had paid for their sixth generation Fiesta. Admittedly our cars were a little older, but the difference in price was an incredible number of bottles of wine, or equivalent to a daily feast at ‘Chicken George’ (some will know what this is). We also knew the way to the hut where the cars were supplied, and we laughed this time when we climbed through the fence. This year we both had Seat Ibizas, mine had alloys and fog lights, while his had a wheel trim missing. I suppose the question is, does this correspond to satisficing tourist behaviours?