Sometime ago a car backed into us in a parking lot. This morning I dropped my car off to be repaired. Despite reassurances that the rental company would be there, it was twenty minutes before they showed up. In that time five other people dropped off vehicles for repairs. Monday rush hour I guess.
The rental shuttle arrived and I and another man went out to the van. I was carrying a very heavy bag of books plus all the essentials from my car and staggered to the parking lot. The driver indicated that one could get up front and one in the back. I chose the back.
The other guy got in and stared out the window. I waited for someone to break the silence, maybe ask something polite, like, “I hope your cars’ damages were minor,” or “is everyone recovered from the whiplash?” I guess there is nothing to say to strangers in such situations. I was reminded of how it is in elevators where everyone stares straight ahead or sends texts to someone not there–as if the assessable people couldn’t be worth talking to. My dad would have thought of something to say.
By the time I had thought of something, (“How about this weather?” or “So, anyone been to Malaysia?” the silence had already stretched for three miles and speaking then would have been startling. So I sent my DH a text. And realized I’d left my water bottle at the repair place. Sigh.
My rental car is a small aluminum can with a few perplexing oddities. One, It has a keyless start. After demonstrating that, the man who helped me had me sign my name three times and initial four places. [Son, beware. Someone may show up claiming I signed away my first born.] Then the man left me to figure the rest out on my own. I got as far as the driveway into the place. I couldn’t figure out how to release the park brake. I did figure out a few other things, like popping the trunk. Finally I left the car where it was and went in to ask.
At this point I need to give the man who was helping me a name because he figures in this again. Since he’s such a friendly guy, how about Ebenezer? So Eb was helping someone but came out to help me so we could clear the main entrance. Without talking beyond asking what the problem was (or did he ask “What’s your problem, ma’am?” No, I’m sure that would come later.) He sat down, stepped on the brake pedal and it released. Yes, I wrote that correctly. I even tried it a few times. Step, set. Step, release. Step, set. I was getting the hang of it. I don’t think Eb even responded to my “thank you,” but just hurried away.
However, a few miles down the road the car wasn’t shifting. The RPMs were up to 4 & 5 and I hadn’t got to the freeway yet. I went back. I swear Ebenezer rolled his eyes when I walked in. Again he left a customer and led me back to the car. I told him my concern and he said something like, “These new cars have sports shifting.” ( I wish I could capture the tone, like, “Now days, cars have gears.”) He sat down and asked, “Were you putting the shifter here?”
I looked into the tiny interior. “Uh, yes.” (Later my DH showed me how it worked and explained that the car I drive every day also has one.) Okay, I am officially a tech dummy. But I prefer, “technologically challenged.”
I drove away, hoping I never saw grumpy-pants again (but there’s always tomorrow).
The only other hitch came when I left school and couldn’t get the car to start. The dash said “brake.” I set the emergency brake. No good. I released the emergency brake. (I had mastered a new skill.) Still the car wouldn’t start. My DH used to tell me that the best way to learn a computer was to click on things. (Note this advise does not work well with remotes.) I began to try different combinations. Finally I must have stepped on the regular brake because the car started.
I made it home eventually, but I still have a few errands today. Hopefully there are no more surprises because this cat is dizzy.