Rending One’s Garments While Renting a Car?
A tale of derring-don’t
By Ed Goldman
It’s one thing to rent a car when you’re on vacation in a destination to which you’ve flown—and quite another to rent one and park it next to your own car for a few days. You almost expect sibling rivalry to occur, complete with elder abuse and ageism jokes:
Assisted Living-Qualified Family Car: He’s a little deeper than that. He’s had plenty of opportunities to dump me when my alternator went south and it cost more than a grand to replace me.
As you may be inferring, because I’m working overtime to imply it, I recently had to replace the alternator in my 2002 car. While I was at it, I also had the dealership fix the rear passenger window, which slid halfway down as soon as the car went more than 35 miles per hour, and replace the driver-side visor, which apparently thought I was always about to drive into sun glare and would flip itself down prophylactically. Even at night. This wasn’t the result of a computer sensor going rogue; it was because the hinge or spring that usually holds the thing in place decided to retire.
It was a black 2021 Ford Fusion and made me feel like I was driving the getaway car from my favorite action movie, “Ronin,” which starred Robert DeNiro. Except that in the film, shot largely in my favorite city, Paris, the car was a black BMW, and it was used to battle, chase and escape from Irish and Arab terrorists, knocking over the requisite food carts and dislodging inconvenient canopy poles along the way.
The Fusion probably did get better great gas mileage than the BMW, however. I suppose if I’d opened it up a bit on the freeway, it would have proved even thriftier to operate—a consideration one doesn’t usually make when driving a getaway car.
As always, there was some price negotiating when I returned the rental car and, as usual, I was terrible at it.
We went back and forth (pleasantly) for a couple of minutes, then he pulled out my contract and showed me that because I’d rented by the week, not by the day, the agency had already thrown in both Sundays for free. “I had planned on writing a stern memo,” I told the (very patient) customer service guy. He told me to cheer up, that something else was likely to aggravate me soon enough.
He asked to see my car rental agreement, calculated what I’d spent and deducted it from my repair bill. And another stern memo bit the dust.
As I drove my 21-year-old car home, I asked it to join me for a cocktail. We both needed to calm down.