NOTE: What’s your worse rental car nightmare? Fern Brady returns to RoadBroads to share hers.
Guest blogger Fern Brady is the founder and CEO of Inklings Publishing. She’s worked as a foreign correspondent, schoolteacher, and realtor. Fern’s publishing credits include two children’s picture books, and multiple short stories and poems. Next comes her debut novel, United Vidden (Book One in her Jornian Chronicles Series). Follow Fern’s writing at: www.fernbrady.com.
Thank you, Fern, for joining our RoadBroads team today! - Melanie & Ellen
Rome & Rental Cars: A Sweat to Remember?
After nearly missing our flight from Germany, we landed in Rome, Italy.
Ten o’clock in the morning and the four of us thrilled to a full afternoon of exploring.
All we needed was a car.
First, we had to find the car rental hub.
Winding our way through the congested airport, we lugged our five pieces of checked luggage and four carry-ons then crossed a connecting skywalk. Entering the rental offices, we froze.
In horror. We had arrived in Donut Land.
Double doors opened up into a cramped round space. Employee offices centered the donut. Along the outside wall, individual rental car companies staffed counters crowded with passenger-packed lines that jutted out like spokes on a wheel. I counted fifteen people in one line. They looked like us, tired travelers who craved any place but here.
At the entry, we noticed a floor mat with the room’s layout. Our car company was located, of course, on the opposite side of where we stood. We would need to make our way through every other line to get to ours.
“I think it would be better if I stay here with the luggage,” I turned to my brother and father who were still trying to sort out the room’s diagram. “So we don’t have to go through these thick crowds with our stuff.
“It’s time for baggage island,” I began to move our stuff to an out-of-the-way corner where I could guard our luggage at my back.
My brother stared at the overcrowded space and sighed, “Good idea.”
Next to him stood his wife, Mariely. She turned to the hub.
“Okay, we’ll get this done. Text us if you need something,” she said before squaring off as if ready to lead us into battle. My brother and father flanked her. The trio left. I stood there. On guard, and sweating.
It. Was. Hot. Like no A/C hot. Like dripping-down-everywhere sweat hot.
The lines grew. More and more people arrived. Hours ticked by. Other baggage islands began to form as passengers realized what I was doing.
I became an archipelago.
A line formed right next to me. With a child. Random, arbitrary, piercing shrieks issued from The Creature. Her parents ignored her as they tried to coordinate something with others of their party. I threw The Creature my best ‘teacher look.’ It worked for a time but had to be reissued periodically.
Two and a half hours later, we’re told we have a car.
We streamed sweat as we hauled our luggage through the bustling airport to the car pickup area. And, no, the car was not ready.
An hour later, we learned the insurance was incomplete. Runarounds ensued. My brother returned to the original counter attendant. Another told us a different story. We sweated. We steamed. We waited.
At seven p.m.—nine hours after we landed in Rome—we had a car.
A station wagon. Roomy. Cool.
We drove to the hotel then walked to dinner.