Ruth and I rented the white car seen in the photo above in Croatia several years ago and had a delightful day driving from Split to Zadar. It wasn’t until later that people told us that Croatian drivers are among the worst in the world and we were crazy to do this. However, there were only 2 notable incidents, one unpleasant and the other the opposite, the entire day. On the way to Zadar, we discovered that the rental’s sound system contained an Amy Winehouse CD that someone had forgotten. We liked this singer who died tragically, listened repeatedly to this CD that had never been released in the US, and left it in the car when we returned it. The unpleasant incident occurred when we returned the car to the rental agency in Split about 8 pm. The congested, central part of this old city with a Roman retirement palace in it had very restricted travel, and I turned down a street near the rental agency that had barriers across it. In order to avoid backing up this difficult street and risking an accident, I literally ran to the rental place and had the agent on duty come with me do the backing up. He was more than happy to do it, so I handed over the keys and went back to the car that Ruth was guarding. Luckily, we had a backup credit card to rent this little white vehicle because our main card had been illegally used in a grocery store in Rome before we arrived in Croatia and had been cancelled. But that’s another travel story for another day.
Our first borrowed car disaster occurred in Doussard, France, a few years before this. We were lucky enough to be offered a Citroen to be used for a day to visit Lausanne, Switzerland. Our first stop was for a postcard mailing at a local French post office. When Ruth came out and got into the Citroen, we could not figure out how to reverse this car despite much effort. I had to get out, push it out of the parking space, and return to its owner to ask about the reverse gear that you had to push down on to engage. The rest of the day went smoothly.
A few years later we had a tire blow out an overpass in Alabama. This could have been a total disaster, but Ruth was driving and managed to get us off the overpass and to the side of the Interstate without crashing. At 6 pm we drove away from this spot on a used tire. It took us 3 hours to accomplish this. Where we pulled over was a very restricted, rural place for this to happen. The rental company couldn’t help. The AAA couldn’t help. Our insurance company couldn’t help. We had to hire a local repairman to take off the blown tire after I took a lot of photos of it. He brought us a spare that got us back to Nashville, where we had rented a car with no spare in the trunk. Who checks this when renting a vehicle? For our inconvenience, the rental agency gave us quite an upgrade, but that’s not all of the story. At the end of the year, we received a bill in the mail for the damaged tire. Luckily, I had kept the name of the agent who made the switch and he took care of it. We paid nothing.