Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Trip Inconvenience 3: The Flat

I rather enjoy renting cars from Hertz; they always give me new cars so in a way, I test-drive a new car every time I rent from them.

This past trip, they rented me a 2014 Ford Focus.

It's not a bad car, roomy on the inside, easy driving, with pretty fair power.

It's got all the gizmos a guy could want, lots of flash. Plus, it doesn't look too shabby either.

The evening before we were to fly back from Oakland to Honolulu, I noticed a "tire pressure" indicator go on when I took it to the gas station to fill up the tank. So I did a walk-abound and saw nothing. I forgot about it and drove back to the house.

As I was loading up the trunk with our bags the next morning, my son said the left-front was flat. I checked it out and it was a bit low, but I figured I could stop at the service station and fill it up with air before heading out to the airport. No, he said, you can't do that.

Stubborn me, I decided to try anyway. So I backed up into his driveway ... that exposed something I hadn't noticed before -- a big screw had embedded itself in the tire. And the tire really looked flat now.

What to do, what to do? I called Hertz's Fremont office and they told me to call their emergency roadside service number. A nice guy answered and said because I didn't take the insurance, a service call would cost me $79. What I should do, he recommended, was call AAA and have them fix the flat, but don't wait for them and get to the airport so we don't miss our flight. Then, have them tow it to the nearest Hertz location.

(All the time, I was trying to communicate with the guy via my hoarse voice and blocked-up nose and ears. I had to ask him a few times to repeat what he'd said, while trying to get my bags out of the trunk without banging my damaged left knee.)

But he'd given great advice. My son had to take my grandson to school, which was on the way to the airport, so we jumped in his car. The only problem was that traffic on the 880 is horrendously slow in the morning as people head off to work. (Do you know how many cars have only the driver in them? Tons.) We scooted along in the carpool lane until we neared the airport and had to move over to the right.

It was like a caterpillar walking through mud. We barely made it to the airport in time, but thanks to this thing called "TSA PreCheck," we were hustled to the front of the long security line, getting to the gate just as they started loading first-class.

So ... the wife and I made our flight. Of course I had a cold, my knee hurt, and I'd had a flat, but we made our flight.

When we landed and I turned on my phone, my son had messaged me saying the car was not at Hertz and they charged the rental fee to my credit card. What a guy!

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