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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Olympic Car Driving

By Jody Worsham

All rights reserved for a bicycle.

For the very first time in my life I went on an adventure all by myself; ok, half way by myself. My sister and her husband drove me as far as Biloxi, Mississippi and I went on to Florida alone.

My training for this event began as I tried to rent a car on line. I made it as far as "What size car do you want?" Once upon a time there were cars; just cars, not big cars, not little cars, not compact cars, not sub-compact cars, not economy cars, not midsize cars, not SUV's, not smart cars, not luxury cars, just cars. And their names were Chevrolet, Ford, Pontiac, Dodge, and Cadillac not Cobalt, Hyundai, Taurus, Elantra, Toyota, Avio, Kia, Fiat, Peugeot, Scamp, Swinger, Jeep, not Escalade, Escapade, Marmalade, or Just Made. I called the car rental place and asked a live person to hold a car for me. "Yes, what size would you like?" "An average size car for one person and one suitcase," I said.

I arrived the next morning to pick up my average size car. The rental agent seemed friendly enough. The car seemed friendly enough. I smiled in a friendly manner, signed the papers, paid the fees, and got the keys. I put the key in the ignition, pushed the gear shift forward which immediately activated the windshield wipers. Through much trial and error, I managed to deactivate the windshield wipers. However, when I tried to remove the key from the ignition to put my suitcase in the trunk, the anti-American automotive brat wouldn't turn loose. My niece said I had to push then pull. It worked but then there was no key hole in the trunk when I tried to open that. "Here, it's in the door." "What's in the door, the trunk?" "No, the button to open the trunk. "Why isn't it on the dashboard" "I don't know, but see there's a picture of the car with the trunk open." "In the door, at the bottom?" "Give me your suitcase." I located the real gear shift in the floor, waved good-by, and drove to the nearest gas station as I was on empty.

That's when the friendship really ended. The car was definitely un-American. No matter where I pushed or pried, or banged I could not open the hinged gasoline cover. I looked all over the dash for some kind of picture of a gas cap. I looked in all the unlikeliest places under the seat, in the backseat, in the glove compartment, above the visor, even the door.

After ten minutes I went inside the station. "I know this is a dumb question, but do any of you know how to put gasoline in this Hyundai rental car?" A child around twenty-two years old said "I do. I have a Hyundai." We walked out to the car. I was trying to push then pull to get the key in the lock to open the door. "You know you can just push the button on the key ring?" "Yes, thank you. I knew that." She opened the door and pointed to an itsy bitsy rectangular button with a picture of a teeny tiny Smurf sized gasoline pump stamped on it at the side of the driver's seat. Now who, but an unfriendly nation, would put the electronic switch to the gasoline cap on the floor of the car? "Thank you," I said again as the child walked away not quite stifling a giggle.

Car 1, Driver 0. The foreign car may have won this round, but there are more events to come. Next week GPS Let the games continue. Stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

Don't feel badly. It was eleven years between our last new car and our new new car..if you follow me..and things changed big time in those eleven years. We had a dicey few weeks until we finally figured out how everything worked. Nothing is simple anymore (except maybe me).

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

Have had my car 5 years, still don't know where everything is. I really only need to know a few things, get in car, start, car, stop car, open gas cap, turn on radiio, open trunk. All other things require me to read the manual and I have gotten along so far without having to open the book. Those lights going on and off on my dashboard are a mystery to me.

Jeanne said...

The windshield wipers always go on first, don't they? George and I are resigned to never knowing all the ins and outs of our car. The only alternative would be to read the owners manual, NOT!

Sharon said...

So funny! I think they change car designs just to keep us thinking we are old and out of date.

Several years ago I rented a car and couldn't get the key out of the ignition. I called the rental service and a friendly guy told me I had to push a button on the steering column to get the key to release. Mmmmmm?????? I'll bet he still tells that story about the woman who....

Joanne said...

I hate renting cars!Especially when you're driving from day into night and wind up turning on the turn signal, the windshield wipers and the hazard lights before you find the @#$%^&* headlights!

Jody Worsham said...

I think I would have been better off renting a pick-up truck. Thanks for the comments. Jody