As promised, I have a few things to say about rental cars. First, however, I want to give a shout out to Enterprise Rent-A-Car for dealing with all my mishaps this travel season and more importantly for finally letting me live out my dream as a J. Lo wannabe in a kickass Fiat 500. Kelsey Usselmann, I hope you are reading this. Let Steve know I think the company is stellar.
We rent cars for all our travel over 100 miles, so basically that means I’m cruising in a rent-a-car from the end of August until mid-November during my fall travel season.
I had my record high for mileage driven this fall with three weeks over 1,500 miles. I ended the season with 2,200 in 8 days. I’m glad to have a month or two out of the driver’s seat. I drove well over 10,000 miles in 2 month’s time all within Missouri and Illinois. It’s a pity it wasn’t ANYWHERE more exotic or exciting.
It’s a pretty nice set-up because we get reimbursed for our gas money, and we get to try out a bunch of different cars. I usually don’t mind the cars I’m given, but I always have to remind them not to give me an Avenger. I’m short and have entirely too many blind spots in it. I bring the workers baked goods from time to time just to let them know I care (and to sweet talk them into giving me the nicer cars. (did you catch that pun?)). It usually works out pretty well.
In the past year and a few months, I’ve driven anything from a Chevy Impala to a Jeep Patriot. I found out I hate Avengers, and I need power seats to sit high enough. The Kia Soul is the ugliest car I’ve driven. I was embarrassed. Sorry if you own one, but you ought to know better.
I guess I’ll start with my obsession with Fiat 500s. I honestly am obsessed. The fact that Jennifer Lopez is their spokeswoman has only strengthened the love.
Look at this little snowball. I want!
I began requesting Fiats when I made reservations for my cars last fall already. They told me if they had one when I needed a car, I’d be the first to get it. It took a year for it to happen, but man oh man, was it a glorious day when it did. Or I guess it turned out to be when I was handed the keys to my dream car. My little snowball.
This car completes me. It really does. Paying $27 to fill the baby up? How could you not love that? I’m still contemplating buying one as my second car. I love my Escape too much to get rid of it for a Fiat, and it’s pretty impractical for a car this size to be my only car. Where would I put my golf clubs?
The night I got the Fiat I burned a CD off iTunes loaded with J.Lo music so I could have the full Fiat experience. I had my 2,200 mile week that week, so I couldn’t have been better. I was cruising through the curves of northern Missouri, windows down, music up as the wind whipped through my hair. Don’t tell me you didn’t picture Jenny on the block as you read that.
I was on cloud nine, so thank you, Enterprise, for making my dream a reality.
How I happened to get that Fiat is a story in itself. I had been driving a charcoal, fully-loaded 2013 Ford Escape for a month and was planning to finish out my travel season in the luxury ride. It had leather, heated seats, voice-command, and most importantly, Sirius Radio. I didn’t think I could love another car more. It had amazing gas mileage as well, especially for an SUV.
Well, I guess I was destined to drive a Fiat 500 before travel season ended because fate would have it that as I drove down New Ballas Road in St. Louis after leaving a high school visit, I saw a broken up concrete block in the middle of the road. I tried steering around it, but my passenger wheel just caught the edge of a block, and POW! my tire popped. I thought I had a heart attack or was shot at. It was one of the loudest noises I’ve ever heard. I pulled into a driveway and had to wait for AAA to switch the tire. I had been all excited to get back home by late afternoon and have all evening ahead of me. That didn’t quite pan out.
The mechanic took no time at all to fix the tire, but I had been waiting in the driveway for an hour, nervous that the homeowners were home or about to come home wondering why I was blocking off their driveway. When he finished switching the tire to my spare he said, “I hope you don’t have far to go because you can’t go faster than 50 mph on this donut.”
My heart sunk. I had a 120 mile interstate drive head of me to get home. It was torturous. Semi trucks were blowing by me, and passerbys kept looking at me like I was a lunatic driving so slow. About every 10 minutes I would just crack up laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation. I swear I could see every pebble on the road, driving that slow. I finally made it back to Enterprise, though, and after laughing at me and the fact that I drove 50 mph on an interstate for 3 hours, the employees gave me the option of a Mazda 6, a Maxima or a Fiat.
“Fiat!?!?!” I exclaimed. ”Definitely the Fiat!”
“The Fiat?” one of the employees groaned. ”Are you kidding me? You are choosing the Fiat?!”
“She’s the Fiat girl, remember?” another employee said.
They all came outside and were laughing as I drove away with the windows down in 30 degree weather.
That wasn’t the first time I had caused some trouble for Enterprise this travel season, though. Before September, I had tremendous luck with no accidents in the rent-a-cars at all besides leaving my receipts or GPS in them when I returned them.
I guess the bad luck with rental cars really started in Ireland this summer :/
This fall, however, our entire office was cursed, and it started with me early in the season.
I stopped by a gas station on the way to work, so I could leave for St. Louis that afternoon. As I was pulling away from the gas pump, an old man began pulling in my spot. I smiled at him, we both waved, and I pulled up just a little as I waited for traffic. All of a sudden, I felt the slightest of jolts. It almost felt as though someone tapped my shoulder, but as I looked behind me, I saw the old man looking back at me with his hand covering his mouth and his truck incredibly close to the rear of my car. Aw, shit.
I put the car in park, and we both get out to check out the damage. There was a slight scratch in the fender. If it had been my own car, I doubt I would have even done anything about it, but since it was a rental, I had to have it reported.
He starts apologizing and says, “Sorry, miss, I thought you had left.” Welp, no, I’m still here. ”Would you mind if I put gas in my truck and then meet you over by the parking lot?”
He was such a sweet little old man. I waited in the parking lot for him to finish pumping gas, and then we surveyed the damage again, took photos of the minor scratches and exchanged information.
The miniscule scratch. I used John’s philosophy with the old man in this situation: “If it wouldn’t have happened, we never woulda met!” (See Ireland blog post)
At that point, he tells me, “Now when you call me, if you wait until Monday, you’ll probably just have to talk with my wife. I’m having hip replacement surgery that day.”
My heart melted/shattered all at once. Poor, poor guy.
I told him not to worry, that Enterprise would be taking care of it, and it didn’t look too bad. I also told him I’d say some prayers that his surgery went well, and when he finally stopped apologizing, we parted ways, but I felt bad for that sweet old man all day.
I explained the story to Enterprise when I got there to see what they’d do about the car, and they told me not to worry about it, to just keep driving it if I didn’t mind. I doubt they even got the scratch buffed out. For that man’s sake, I hope they never even bothered.
I guess you could say this post is an endorsement of Enterprise, and if they keep treating me with spectacular cars, I’m all for being part of a testimonial commercial for them. Enterprise, you know how to contact me. You’ve got my mailstop.