Adventures in Car Rentals

I recently got a great travel story from a close friend. She and a coworker were going to Philadelphia for a meeting, tried to rent a car, and, well, adventures ensued…..

They arrived late in Philadelphia, and had to wait in a very smoky spot for shuttle to rental car place. To add to the atmosphere, it was lightly raining. They finally got their rental car, but had trouble finding the exit.  After driving around in the parking lot, they spotted the exit. Hooray! That much closer to my warm hotel bed, she remembers thinking. The arm at the exit was up, and as the person in the booth did not appear interested in talking to them, they drove on through.

As the car cleared the dreaded ‘do not reverse over these spikes’ threshold, the attendant began shouting, “Hey lady!” and asked her to ‘back in.’ She wasn’t about to do that, and explained why.  The attendant said “Oh, they won’t do anything, don’t worry.” (Are warning bells going off in your head? Because they sure were in mine as I listened to this story!!) My friend protested, but acquiesced after the attendant’s assurance – saying to her traveling companion, “This is ending a life held belief!” Sure enough, the back tires crossed the line and all seemed well.

Then the arm fell is a rush and whacked the hood of the car, effectively pinning them precisely on the spikes.  A soft hissing began and they soon heard a rush of air.  At first they thought it was the hydraulic arm, explaining the malfunction.  This is the moment the attendant began assuring them, “Don’t worry, it’s not your fault.”  My friend assumed she meant the whacking on the hood, which most definitely was not their fault. (My friend pauses in telling the story. “Did I mention it was raining?” she said. “And at this point it’s after midnight, and we had to be up at 7!”)  Soon, a helpful young man arrived, released the vehicle, backed it all the way in and drove it off.  The hood seemed fine and my friend’s companion said, “A good thing there is no damage!”

“Well, there’s the tires,” the attendant said. That’s when my friend saw them.  Completely flat.

The moral of the story? When the signs say, “Do not back up as severe damage will result to your tires,” they are not kidding!! Don’t back up! Cling to your long held beliefs that the sign is not lying.


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