Over the years, the Yukon attracted a certain amount of interest. In a way, it was like a mobile landmark – after all, you couldn’t miss it. Practically speaking and on the surface, you could interpret as insanity the fact that a car the size of a jumbo jet featured only two doors, but I considered it quirkily eccentric.
I wasn’t the only one, because strangers would knock on my window at 120kph on Sheikh Zayed Road to ask whether it was for sale and for how much and did I have a husband?
I should have known better than to place the car in Gulf News Classifieds for sale at Dhs 32000, BECAUSE THAT’S HOW MUCH I WANTED. If you’ve ever lived in the Middle East, you will understand my error.
For the first week, I fielded many calls, all following the same basic script:
“Salam a’ Linkum. Walla yallah <lots of throat clearing>”
“Hello, Niamh speaking.”
“Hello, can I help you?”
“You have carrr.”
“How many cylinder?”
“Very good, very good. How many wheel?”
“Four wheels plus spare.”
“Very good, very good. What is colour?”
“Gun metal grey.”
“No, it’s a good colour.”
“Ah! Good colour, very good.”
“Was there anything else?”
“I give you Dhs 10000.”
“No thanks. Bye now!”
“Wait! Wait! How much you want?”
“Ok. I give Dhs 15000. Good price for this carrr. Very good.”
“I don’t think so. Seriously, good bye.”
“Wait! I give Dhs 12000-”
Every couple of days, I went out and gave the Yukon a Brazilian Wash (due to the V-shaped swathe of dust extending from the roof down the centre of the windscreen according to my reach). This was for the few people who came to view the car and absently readjust their dishdash before offering Dhs 10000.
Although I wanted to sell the Yukon – knew I had to – I was secretly glad when negotiations failed. It was like Sophie’s Choice: the tragic decision between my car and a wad of cash. (Before you denounce me as shallow, do remember that Sophie and her children were FICTITIOUS CHARACTERS.)
After one close encounter, wherein a caller flirted with the asking price, I put down the phone and burst into tears.
“He- he offered thirty thousand!” I blubbed, throwing my body on Husband.
“Ah-” said poor Husband.
“The Yu-yu-yukon! It was a serious oooffeeer!”
“Well- that’s great! Isn’t it?”
“Niamhie,” said Husband with perplexing patience as I prowled miserably around his lap. “You don’t have to sell the Yukon if you don’t want to. Hey- we can get a 40 foot container and just- bring it with us! I know – we could live in it! We’ll put what we save on rent towards petrol. What d’you think?”
Finally, Mosabeh and Mohammed came all the way from Dhaid to see the Yukon, and adhered to the standard procedure for viewing the vehicle, as follows:-
(1) Circle car kicking tyres
(2) Circle car checking stubble growth
(3) Circle car knocking randomly on the body while doubled over
(4) Open bonnet and peer intently at engine
(5) Unscrew radiator cap
(7) Tweak spark plugs
(8) Check how much pressure can be applied to the running fan belt to draw blood
(9) Test-drive car, preferably off-road
(10) Ignore all potentially major trouble spots in a car this age and obsess at length about some minor and happily fully functional feature
(11) Haggle Jihad
Mohammed checked out the 4-wheel drive function at 100kph and hurled it over some lorry ruts to assess median bounce tolerance, while Mosabeh turned the interior light on and off, on and off: ‘Hey! Light works. Hey! It still works. Hey! What d’you know? . . .’
Back in the carpark, I tried to persuade my legs to stop trembling.
“Very nice car,” pronounced Mohammed.
“Oh!” I said in some surprise. “Yes, it’s in great condition-”
“But,” said Mohammed holding aloft a doleful finger, “there is scrrratch. Here. You see.”
“Well yes, the car is eight years old. Look: here’s another one.”
“It have only six cup holders.”
“The car only seats five!”
“But, what if someone, he have two drinks?”
“Yeah, that would need six holders-”
“Ah! You see! What if TWO person, have two drinks?”
“Hmm, I see the problem.”
“Ok. You will give us good price?”
“Absolutely. Dhs 32000 is a fabulous price for this classic car featuring six cup holders which, let’s face it, is excessive by a factor of about four.”
“I give you Dhs 20000. Final offer.”
“No thanks. Sorry you wasted your time, I hope you find another car-”
“Wait! Final offer. I give you Dhs 21000. Very good price.”
“Mohammed, I’ve been offered Dhs 30000.”
“I give you twenty two. Final offer.”
“Did you miss my saying I’ve been offered thirty? Or do you think you’ll persuade me via the powerful magnetism of your personality?”
“Twenty three. Cash. We go now to police. I have, we go. Come.”
“<putting the Yukon in gear>”
“You will call?”
“It’s looking unlikely, but bear in mind I am occasionally given to exaggeration.”
“Wait! I give you-”
“<Drives away with excessive revving>”
Later that evening, I received the following text message: I offer 25k it is good price for YOUR CAR mosabeh
My response was phenomenally polite under the circumstances. Which is probably why Mosabeh called me two days later offering thirty.
“How much you want?”
“I will take thirty one if you stop arguing with me for the love of margharita.”
We arranged to meet at the Police Station the following evening to conduct the transfer. Dan had just sold his Range Rover and emerged from the experience uncharacteristically bitter. “Make sure the git has thirteen months insurance,” he hissed, “and brings a copy of his passport. And don’t bother going to the Police Station until they tell you they’re already there. And then tell them you’re two minutes away and instead have some lunch.”
Upon Danny’s advice, I sent Mosabeh three text messages instructing him to bring his passport and thirteen months insurance – which made it all the more embarrassing when, after two hours of car tests and paperwork and teaching Mosabeh and his cousin dirty English words, the police refused to complete the transfer due to a HSBC car loan listed on my registration card.
Four days later, after a daring mission (Codename: Operation Muppetation) to extract a clearance letter out of HSBC, I returned to the police station and transferred ownership of the Yukon to Mosabeh.
Despite the increasingly frequent squalls of tears leading up to the event, I was not prepared for the devastation accompanying the sale of the car. I couldn’t understand it. After six years of ownership, I was always pleasantly surprised when the Yukon started which, considering it’s a core functionality, is hardly a selling point. The car featured spongy brakes, soggy suspension and an oil leak on the right hand side.
Yet after handing over my car, I wept all the way home – much to the consternation of the taxi driver, who spent far too much time looking under his seat for a box of tissues considering he was slaloming past speed cameras on Chicago Beach Village Road. At least by the end of the journey my tears were inspired more by terror than loss