The “Upgraded” Cartastrophe
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My husband reverts to the carefree days of high school when we rent a car. Perhaps there is some mothballed memory of the non-ownership of the rental car that brings the manic behaviors out in him; his driving is rarely a good example for our three teenagers.

It is difficult at best to drive out of a rental parking lot with full operating knowledge of the car. Problems emerge upon changing lanes; the windshield wipers begin to drag across a dry windshield; and in the blind search for the blinker, water sprays all passing cars with windshield cleaning fluid. This always produces loud guffaws from the navigator, which is usually me.

I have many useful skills; however, navigating with a map is not one of my best. I suffer from “direction dyslexia”—this is not a joke. When I drive, I watch Craig as he turns the map at odd angles. “What good does that do?” I ask. “I am orienting myself,” he says.

Often, I am the navigator and Craig is the driver. This is a lose-lose situation for me; Craig does not “prefer” my navigating and I have the previously mentioned “direction dyslexia.” If only maps were marked with large oak trees and horses leaning over fences. Good landmarks like that would make it so much easier to navigate.

Our car rental agreement required that we fill the tank with gas or pay the exorbitant gas fee the rental agency charged. It is easier and cheaper to stop at the gas station.

Opening the gas cap.

We looked on the dashboard, under the seat, on the key, on the side of the seat, on the gas cap cover—no opener. Craig begins to mutter under his breath as tension mounts in the car. Another woman pulls up in the gas station; she also has a white mini van, apparently a very popular car in Hailey, Idaho. Maybe it is local movie star Demi Moore. I wander over to the woman and ask her where her gas cap unlocker is located. We strike up a friendly conversation about the obscurity of gas caps; unfortunately, she cannot help me. When I climb back in the car, Craig is speaking loud words about my inane actions.

Craig: “Why are you talking to that woman? How is that going to help us?”

Ten minutes have passed.

Me: “I am going to look in the owner’s manual, maybe that will help us locate the gas cap opener.”

Craig: “I have never seen an owner’s manual in a rental car.”

Me: “Here is the owner’s manual, maybe I can find the information here.”

Craig: Silence, then, “Let me see that manual. Maybe I can find it faster. Oh, here it is, the gas cap opener is on the side of the seat. My coat was covering it.” All is said in a very pleased voice.

A small-minded woman might have reminded her husband that she solved the problem. I, of course, am not that woman, although I think the petty thoughts to myself.

Me: “Great. I am going in the station to use the restroom.”

Bathroom stop completed, and taking time for a quick bit of shopping in the convenience store, I wander back out to the car, having decided that I do not require a two-day-old hot dog or a squeezable sticky frog from the mini mart.

Me: “Craig, the door is locked.”

Craig fumbles around looking for the door lock, his previous good mood is now sour.

Craig: “Shawn, open the @#&# door.”

Me: “I can’t, you fool; the door is locked.”

Craig: “Well, open it!”

This is getting us nowhere, the door remains locked and I stand outside the car.

Perhaps my son Conner and I will have to hitchhike the remaining two miles to the airport. Conner sadly shakes his head at his inept parents.

Suddenly, the door unlocks. Craig is not aware of what button he pushed and does not care. All is silent in the car as we drive to the remaining two miles to the airport.

We return our “upgraded” car to the rent-a-wreck agency where we are requested to fill out a “customer satisfaction” report, not by an employee of the rental agency, but by a prominent sign posted over the service counter.

The Gods in charge of the rental agency have obviously figured out that it is wise to have an unresponsive sign deal with dissatisfied customers instead of a “live” person, unless it is someone who also suffers from “direction dyslexia,” I have heard “D.D.” sufferers can be very accommodating.

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