Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Rest of the Story--Sunday Night

So I'm finally in Nashville, and I finally have my bags. Okay, it's late. Almost 10:30 pm. But hey, all I have to do is find my rental car and get to my hotel. I've rented cars from this place 4-5 times a year for the past two years, and it always goes smooth. So no worries. I gather my bags, step out of the terminal planning to cross the street to the car rental office, and realize it's cold. I mean...COLD! Frigid! Guess where my coat is. Yup, in my suitcase. After, it's N'ville. The South! Isn't it supposed to be warm here?? Lo and behold, they were having a cold snap. Subzero with wind chill.

Welcome to the South.

I can't even wrap my arms around myself for warmth because I'm pushing the cart with my luggage. So I hotfoot it across the street, look at the board that announces the slot where my car is waiting for me, ready to go. I shiver down the aisles, teeth starting to chatter, and find my slot.

It's empty. No car. At that point I'd have gone for a bicycle. A pair of skates. SOMEthing. But there's nada. So I turn around and make my now frostbitten way back to the office. And that's where even more fun begins:

Car rental agent radios to find my car. As I'm waiting I glance at the receipt she gave me and discover they messed up my bill. Charged me taxes when my company is tax-exempt in Tennessee. They've done that every time, and I've had them--and corporate of the car rental company--make a note that they're not to do it. More phone calls. "I'm going to make a note on your profile," says the agent. Exact comment agents have made every time. I just smile and thank her.

Taxes are removed when she receives a radio call. She turns to me. "Your car is in your slot."

I frown. At this point, I wouldn't doubt I was seeing things that weren't really there...but NOT seeing things that WERE there? "I was just out there. I could swear the slot was empty."

"No, the slot next to yours was empty. But the car's in your slot."

Off my bags and I go again. I walk to the slot, staring at the numbers, and...

The car's there. Okay, it's official. I've gone totally 'round the bend.

Happily, the car they've given me is nice and new. Unhappily, it has no ignition slot for the key. I stare from the key in my hand to the dash and back again. What the...? Oh, there's a push button on the dash that says start. You start the thing with a push button? I'd never driven a car that started with a push button. Didn't know HOW to start a car with a push button. I try everything I can think of, all to no avail.


Okay. Deep breath. Once more. Now, out of the car I go, trudge back to the office--still sans coat, thank you--wait for someone to come to the desk, then make a plaintive plea: "How, exactly, does one start this car??" Rental agent looks at me like I'm balmy, then the light goes on.

"Oh, you got the push-button start, huh?"

I nod, feeling and, I'm sure, looking totally pathetic. The woman takes mercy on me and walks to my car to show me. Aha! Have to have the foot on the brake when you push the button. We both shake our heads, comment about some "improvements" being more trouble than they're worth, and I finally am on my way. That, I tell myself, is the last hassle I'll deal with tonight.

Silly me.

I reach the hotel, where I've stayed 4-5 times a year for the past two years, so everything should go smooth. It does, until I reach my room, a little before 1 a.m. I get unpacked, then head for the shower to let hot, pounding water relax me so I can get a few hours sleep before getting up at 6 a.m. for an 8 a.m. meeting with the company leadership team. Just one problem. Shower doesn't work. On/Off handle installed backwards, so hot water comes on as soon as I turn it on, but pressure is a dribble. When I turn it to get pressure, water is ice-cold. I have Fibro. I need pressure and hot water to aleve pain. Dribbles of lukewarm water just don't cut it. Turn off shower and crawl into bed at 1:30 a.m.. Lie there, staring at ceiling, fluctuating between urge to weep or laugh hysterically, until almost 2 when sleep mercifully takes me away.

So endeth Day One of my Great Travel Adventure. As sleep ushers me beyond this horrid day, I smile. Because the Horrid Day is over. It's on to better days.

They don't call me a dreamer for nuthin'.


Nicole said...

OH MY WORD. I think when the shower didn't work, I would've lost it. You're amazing.

Rel said...

You poor thing :( I can only imagine what you must have felt like! Glad the day is over now :)

Cara Putman said...

Oh, Karen! I used to travel 2-3 weekends a month during the school year -- never experienced anything quite that crazy. As I read the posts I felt like I was sitting across the bistro table listening to you spin the tale. Glad the meetings went well and made the horrific travel worth it!