ON RENTING A CAR AND WHY IT SUCKS

Today, I find myself on the road and as usual have nothing prepared, so I’ll just tell you what happened.

We’re visiting family in Bothell, WA this week, and so it made sense to rent a car at the airport.

We rented from a company that will remain anonymous, but it rhymes with “Shalamo.”

Anyway, Shalamo rented us a car that rhymed with Smord.  I’m actually a Smord owner at home and have been for years.   And it was a brand new Smord vehicle, hybrid, with all the bells and whistles.  I was pleased.  Leather seats and everything.

We came to visit my mom, and also see my sister before she went off with my brother-in-law to visit our nephew the doctor in Boston.  Unfortunately, our niece had to have an unexpected medical procedure right before we got here (everything worked out fine) and we ended up staying with her as she recuperated while they were away a few days on their pre-planned and paid-for visit.

bothellmom
Here’s us flanking Mom, who gave it a sporty 1/2 mile with the walker on the pier. Go Mom!

Well, this morning, we got my 87 year old mom ready to go and headed out to the car, but the brand new Smord wouldn’t unlock. Pressed all the buttons on the fob, but nothing.  Not only that, but there were two fobs cabled together (why 2 key fobs if you can’t separate them?  Really?), neither of which would open the car.

I called Shalamo.  I waited on hold then spoke to a man who spoke very good English, and in fact might have been in America.  He tried to tell me how to start the dead Smord. He told me how to get the secret physical key out of the fob to unlock the door which worked out. There’s like a secret keyhole in the handle, once you get the secret key out of the fob.  Then you snap off this plastic cover to reveal the secret keyhole and use the key to open it. So far, so good.

bothellpier
Pier, lake, sun, glare. Ow. My eyes.

Then, after getting into the car, you need to find the secret second keyhole under the cup-holders in the center console. The guy told me there was a rubber cover on the bottom of the cup-holders that I could remove to expose a second secret keyhole! Yes, there was a secret keyhole under the cup-holder!  It said so in the owner’s manual too; I looked.  But the bottom of the cup holder in this Smord Smusion Hybrid seemed to be made of solid plastic and could not be removed.  I broke off pieces of plastic and drew blood from my left pinkie trying.

So I told the guy just get me another car. Well it turns out that they don’t drive the cars, they tow them.  So some guy had to tow the first car back to the rental place at the airport, which is a good 45 minutes away in light traffic.  There is never light traffic in the Seattle area.  It was going to take a while for them to get there. Then this guy was going to take me to get a new car.

Well, we were supposed to be taking care of our niece who had the procedure and we couldn’t wait for the guy to come tow the car which was taking forever with my 87 year old mother waiting out in the Bothell fall air. So I told them I was going to take an Uber to my sister’s house and they could pick up the car where it was. Which was fine with them.  But the thing is, Shalamo doesn’t come for the car, they get a towing service to do it.  But the towing service had delays and it was taking too long, so the towing company said leave the car unlocked and the keys in the car.  But Shalamo said no, take the keys, they’ll be able to tow without the keys.  Since I had the contract with Shalamo and would owe them my life if something happened to the 2019 hybrid Smord, I took the keys.

An hour later, some Russian guy calls and asks where the keys are.  I said Alamo, I mean Shalamo told me to take the keys. He said they always do that, they don’t know what they’re saying. Can I bring the keys to him? Well, funny thing, I said, I don’t have a car.  I mean, really dude?  I am renting a car.  And you have my car, and I have the keys. So he came over here with his big truck and got the keys. Frankly, the Russian was the nicest person in this scenario.  I would collude with this fellow anytime.

bothellpier2
This very long pier must have been much longer back in the day. Now, just posts sticking up out of the water for birds to perch on.

Okay so I got rid of the broken Smord, but I still had no car and they were supposed to bring one to me, which is the least they could do, but again, they don’t drive it here, they put it on the back of a tow truck and tow it over, which is dumb but I guess the car can’t get damaged or add mileage when it’s being towed.

The first towing company to get the gig didn’t show up, so I called Shalamo, and they said the first towing company was delayed so they would call another.  Meanwhile about two or three towing companies called for various reasons, to see where the car is, or where they are bringing the next car, or where the keys are.  In fact, THREE HOURS after the Russian picked up the car, another service, probably the first one, called and said they were at the place and where was the car!?  HAHAHAHAHHAAH!  Too late, loser!!!

First I’m calling Shalamo and saying it’s been 2 hours, then 3. Then 4, 5. I spoke to two very patient gentlemen from Mumbai who allowed me to rant, albeit gently (for me) at them on behalf of Shalamo.  Then we ordered dinner.

I took my sister’s car to pick up dinner. This was not ideal either, as she has a brand-new electric BMW with controls and dashboard stuff fit for a scene from “Sleeper.” I couldn’t figure out how to get anything to work but winged it and got to the local Italian take-out joint that gets its mozzarella from Denmark, of all places, and returned safely.

We ate. Still no new rental car. This started at 12:30 p.m. It was now 8 p.m.  I took my mother home to her place about a mile from here and of course as soon as I got there the tow truck guy called to say he was dropping off the new car.  I said I’d be there in a minute, so I drove back like a maniac.  The second tow truck guy was also nice enough to just hand me the keys and leave.

bothelfall
Nice fall colors come earlier to Washington than to LA.

Only 8 hours to get a replacement car?  In 2019?  In the U.S. In a major metropolitan area no less.  This required at least one dozen phone calls, some of them quite long, and making my fingers bleed trying to open the nonexistent secret door under the cup holders to find the magical secret key hole to start a car that is fantastic at least in part because NO ACTUAL KEY IS REQUIRED!  You get in and press a button and voila! The engine is on! At least in theory.  But not today!!!!

Anyway, it’s now 9:30 and I dealt with Shalamo all day and realized I hadn’t written the blog post yet and have a 53 week blog post streak on the line (maybe to someday be the Joe DiMaggio of bloggers) so what the hell else am I going to write about?

In fact, this is exactly what happened when I wrote my novel, Smoking in Bed: dreams of love, sex, and terrorism.  I just got really pissed off and started writing, finishing at page 414 and felt much better.  Okay not true but please, read it one of these days! Then I can thank you and you might thank me too!

What have we learned? Don’t get mad? Keep calm?  Maybe, but from what I’ve observed, that won’t help any.

Happy Wednesday everybody!

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