Yesterday I fearfully roamed over to the Pepecar rental place expecting the worse and when I jogged into the garage, the first thing I saw was one of those Smart cars with the pepecar.com signs plastered on the driver’s door. I was screwed. The girls were going to hate me for this. I closed my eyes and went into the office to get my papers and keys. The woman who took care of me was generally quite nice and professional. We went through all the motions and the I listened to the usual threats of all the things that could happen to me and my bank account should anything go wrong. The old excess insurance is my favorite. You are covered, but you still have to pay up to 1000€ in damage if soemthing happens, which sounds to me like I’m not very covered at all. Car Rental people don’t seem to worry about this detail. You can always get insurance which will cover those first 1000€, which is what I usually do. The woman at the desk asked if I wanted to tack on all-risk, and I declined because, after all, just how many times do you have to re-insure something? Would there next be a policy which covers the all-risk collision? There is just no purpose to it. Nor end.
The car rentals don’t really give a hoot because they will charge you first and then have you scrap it out with the insurance company. That makes sense. To them at least. It doesn’t really follow for the rest of us, but as they point this out to you while they dangle some car keys in front of your face, they’ve basically got you where they want you. And that’s often where you don’t.
The time finally came to approach the car and wince. As it turned out, aside from the Smart at the entrance, none of the vehicles donned the not-so-fabled logo. They must have been erased, which doesn’t surprise me. The original idea was funny, but it clearly cut out a large block of potential clients from the outset. Plus, rental cars are favorites among bored and mindless vandals looking for someone to fuck with, and there’s no better way of attracting the local hoodlums. I reached my car, a silver Toyota Yaris (which of course meant nothing to me at the time because I told you I know squat about car makes), and thanked God the minute I saw that the only written language on it was a small sticker over the gas tank lid stating “Use Unleaded Fuel Only”. It was green because unleaded fuel is supposed to be eco-friendly. Some people still feel that way.
I also noticed that it wouldn’t start.
“Shit!” I groused. “This is what you get for going with these guys.” This was essentially untrue, because I had been assigned to Pepecar. I never would have chosen it from the beginning. But who was going to care about that. The offcie had now filled up and was packed with impatient customers tipping their weight from one leg to the next as they waited nervously. I was going to have to go in and point this flaw out in front of everyone. But then a kind of burst of illuminmation overcame me. Somehow, there was something that wasn’t quite right here. Maybe there was a snag and I was getting it wrong. I spotted a worker cleaning a car and discreetly went to him instead. He looked at the details on the keyring and said, “It’s the clutch.”
“What about the clutch?”
“You have to press it down when you turn the key.”
“Of course. Half the cars use that system now.”
“I see. Well I specialize in the other half. This is kind of new to me.” What a relief. But no half as much as the thought that I didn’t announce to a roomful of human beings that they were in the presence if a knumbskull. It always helps to avoid those moments.