Strangers in a Strange Land (Sask Travel Blooper#1) - Jo-Ann Carson

Strangers in a Strange Land (Sask Travel Blooper#1)


from, The Scream Edvard Munch, 1893 Source: Wikipedia


Getting Started

I promised to tell you our travel bloopers, so here’s the first one.

After a five-hour, puddle-jumping adventure across half of Canada we arrived in Regina, Saskatchewan. I thought the hard part of the day was over. Hah.

Swiftly we disembarked from the plane and left the gate area, smug that we, the worldly, carry-on-only travelers, move easily through foreign ports.  Expecting our rental car to be ready for us, we headed straight for the rental car desk.

We were beyond exhausted, but still capable of speech.

The crisp young man behind the desk said to my husband, “You’re a big man. You sure you don’t want to upgrade the car for $10.00?” To me he said, “I can add on car insurance, Mam.”

“Uh,” I said. Hadn’t we already arranged everything? These were formidable questions at this point in our journey, which had started at 3:30 am. “Our insurance is covered by our credit card.” I said, pulling the knowledge from some dusty corner of my mind. “But a bigger car?” I looked at PJ.

“Only ten dollars,” the young man said.

“That’s seventy,” said my husband.

But it’s a bigger car and it’s our vacation, so I said, “Okay, we’ll take the big one.”

ford edge

Two minutes later we hustled out the front door of the airport into the blistering-dry, prairie heat with a shiny key for a Ford Edge in our hands. Excitement tingled in my veins as I spied the truck we were going to drive, big, shiny, and brand-spanking-new. After circling it like dogs trying to find a place to lie down, and of course making sure there was no damage, we looked at the key. We pushed every button until the doors unlocked. We had access.

Great, I thought. It’s only a four hour drive until I see my baby (who is all grown up, but you know what I mean).

We sat in the car and looked around. Then we looked at each other. It was pretty, but there was no hole for the key to fit into.

How could we start her? PJ inspects the dashboard, while I pulled out the manual and started reading. The document had been written for geniuses or idiots, I’m not sure which, because the key section talked about many different kinds of keys and we had only one.

I started with the first instruction. “Push the button on the key and another, smaller key will be released for you to use.” I told PJ this as I  pushed every part of the blinking key. Believe me, nothing released.

He raised one brow.

The heat in the car rose. We couldn’t open the windows, because… we couldn’t start the car.

PJ resumed his search and rescue mission. I returned to my book. Next key instruction. “You can give your key verbal instructions.”

As I wiped sweat from my brow, I told PJ to talk to it. He talked, but not to the key, and the temperature in the small space increased.

PJ looked under the console. I found the next instruction and read it to him. “If the key is in the car, you can push the button to start it.”

He grunted and pushed the button beside the steering wheel. The car started.

Whew, step one. Now we needed to find the air-conditioning. The temp, well over a hundred turned the inside of the vehicle into a sauna. We were both sweating from head to toe and were cross-eyed from the confusion.

PJ, never a quitter,  started playing with dials. I went back to the book. The fans started up and blew hot air all around us. Prairie sunlight streamed through the windows. I wondered at what temperature human flesh baked.

“That’s it,” Piet said, pushing the ignition button again. The engine stopped. He didn’t need to say more. I jumped out of the car.

We returned to the crisp, young man and explained that we couldn’t figure out the big car. We said we were too old.

Warily he nodded. We couldn’t have looked too good, because he took a step back and blinked. He blinked a lot. “I understand,” he said. “It’s not for everyone.” Scooping up the key to the compact car from a drawer, he said, “Try this one.”

The patronizing tone of his voice grated on my nerves, urging me to give him a piece of my mind. A big piece. I’d start with my incisive review of the car manual. But I bit my lower lip and settled for, “You better make sure that we are charged the lower rate.”

“Yes, Mam.”

I didn’t dare look at PJ. I could feel steam rising from his body.

We left the airport with a good, old-fashioned key and an economical compact car to start the next leg of our adventure.

I felt less the worldy-traveler and more the technologically challenged old lady in a strange land.

As soon as the air-conditioning kicked in, we started laughing.

IMG_20150731_094707The car we drove in Saskatchewan.


0 Replies to “Strangers in a Strange Land (Sask Travel Blooper#1)”

  1. I hate driving a rental that’s not a model I’ve driven before. While I’ve been cruising in my 7-year-old Accord, cars have got complicated to the point that I have the same kind of problems you two did.

    Actually, I hate the whole experience dealing with car rental firms. A week after I returned the last rental car, I was still being badgered with computer-generated calls saying that if I didn’t return the vehicle immediately, it would be reported as stolen.

    Hmm…I think I’ll go lie down for a while. It’s not good for my blood pressure to get this high.

    1. Hi Allan
      I love your story about being harassed for not returning a car and being threatened with the police. OM goodness that would drive me crazy. I alsolaughed really hard at your last line.
      I had no idea that renting cars could be such a horror show. You’ve made me feel much better.You know misery does love company.
      Thanks so much for stopping by and adding to the conversation.
      my best

  2. If you’ve never driven a car like that before (and I haven’t) it’s asking a lot for you to jump in and drive it. Until you have the engine started and the air conditioning on you’re not going to be ready to tackle any new technology. I can just picture PJ talking to the car and imagine what he was saying. And I can just see the two of you returning the car to the crisp young man.

    1. Hi Pat
      You have so much common sense. I should have known better, but I just thought you got a key to a car and drove it away. I had no idea technology had zoomed eons past my knowledge of automobiles. Talk about feeling old and stupid. It was a lesson to me and we started laughing as soon as the air conditioning in the second car came on.
      Thanks for stopping by and sharing my story.
      my best

      1. Actually I know someone who recently bought a CRV? that has a lot of the features I think your rental did. Trust me, the salesman did not just throw them in the deep end to sink or swim.

    1. Thanks Joanne
      As I said to Pat. I’ve never felt so stupid and inept. I think he felt the same, but wasn’t in the mood to verbalize.
      Oh well. Another story to add to my traveling tales.
      Thanks for stopping by.
      my best

  3. Easy to laugh now that you’re back home safe and sound. In Miami recently we all rented cars. I think the airport was in a black hole. One person’s car wasn’t ready for almost two hours. Ours was there but we had to wait for our daughter for an hour and a half (after an overnight flight.) Another person got lost, over and over, and it took almost an hour to get away from the airport. Like I say, Black hole.

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