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Shame & Rental Cars (An Embarrassingly Awkward Tale)

There shall be no more Movie Mondays.

This isn’t because of an anti-cinematography bent I’m on now.

Rather, my grandma has returned home to St. Louis.

(We all knew her broken shoulder couldn’t last forever.)

Though my Grandma has a fear of flying, having recently experienced the drive from St. Louis to Virginia, she wasn’t willing to live it in reverse and thus I accompanied her home.

This necessitated me renting a car.

Which, given my need to come back to my home, required me returning said car.

I’d forgotten to save the location of the rental company in my GPS when I arrived, which I think I can blame on my Grandma’s mere presence.

(That seems fair, right?)

So returning the car, I found what the GPS claimed to be the rental company’s location.

But my GPS was lying.

(Unless said location was their secret, underground branch and then I owe Molly quite the apology.)

(Molly is my GPS.)


At which point, I was running a bit late and was quite a bit lost.

Then, over the skyline, like Taylor discovering the Statue of Liberty but with a completely different moral, I saw the airport control tower.


Using it as my Northern Star, I found the car rental place and drove in.

(Sadly, this is not the end of the story.)

I pulled into the long line of cars, where a female attendant was standing, motioning me forward.

Now, parking isn’t my strength.

(As many, many left notes have attested.)

(Interesting aside: only once has anyone ever called me regarding a so-terribly-sorry-my-car-drove-in-that-place-where-it-turns-out-your-car-already-was  letter.)

But the woman’s waving hand was insistent, so I pulled forward centimeter by centimeter until eventually I was so positive I was about to hit the car in front of me that I parked despite her continued encouragement.

I gathered Molly and my bag and various car debris and slightly stumbled out into the freezing St. Louis air.

The attendant asked about payment and I stumbled over my words as she sat down in the driver’s seat, glancing about.

She then uttered rather unexpected words.

“This isn’t our car.”

Somehow, in my frantic rush to find Budget’s rental car location, I became flustered.

At least, that’s what I’m assuming happened when I saw the big, bright Hertz sign and pulled in.

Given my personality and inherent awkwardness, I’m not easily embarrassed.

But, as a car had pulled up behind me and I had to have another attendant help me get out of my too-tight parking spot, I could tell this was an especially humiliating moment.

This was reinforced by hearing other attendants start laughing as my predicament was shared.

And wasn’t particularly helped by their gathering along the edge of the car to watch as I blushed and pulled forward and back and forward and back.

I did eventually find the right place.

I even made my flight.

Which is good, as I don’t know if I’d have had the strength to try to rent another car.

When I told my parents they both had the exact same response

“Oh, Megan”



Equally Awkward Reads

* My Flat Tire

* Best Pick-Up Line Ever

* Frugality’s Revenge

{ 43 comments… add one }

  • Mindee@ourfrontdoor February 15, 2012, 10:24 am

    Seriously? There was not a single nice man around to offer to get the car out of the line for you? Chivalry is dead.

  • Megan February 15, 2012, 10:58 am

    So… someone left a comment that I accidentally deleted. ‘Cause I’m clearly on some sort of horrible roll. But if you left a comment this morning and it’s not here, you should know that it wasn’t my judgment on its contents but rather a hasty clicking finger that made it disappear.

    I’m terribly sorry. And you should totally re-comment, ’cause I want to read it!

  • John February 15, 2012, 11:15 am

    Oh, Megan.

    (although I’ve made the mistake of trying to return a car to the wrong lot, as well)

  • Lily February 15, 2012, 11:22 am

    Oh Megan! Just…Oh Megan! I’m trying to think of a really witty comment but every time I think about you pulling forward and back to get out I burst out laughing. Austin Powers anyone? Anyone?

  • Andi February 15, 2012, 11:50 am

    Oh my gosh! You are so darn funny! I’m so glad I found your blog to give me laughter!

  • Maureen February 15, 2012, 12:06 pm

    This kind of thing is my worst nightmare/greatest fear, whatever you want to call it. Driving and parking (badly) with people watching me. Horrible, horribleness. I have been laughed at by Jiffy Lube attendants for breaking a mirror, while…umm… driving to Jiffy Lube. I was having a mental breakdown and all they could do was laugh. I agree with the above comment. Why didn’t some nice man help you? Maybe you should’ve cried or something.

  • Tracie February 15, 2012, 12:49 pm

    This is exactly the kind of thing that would happen to me.

    I am a horrible park-er (and only a semi-good driver to be honest – lack of depth perception is not great for driving) and I probably would have had a melt down trying to get that car out.

  • Domesticated Gal February 15, 2012, 1:12 pm

    This was my Exact fear when I had to rent a car out of Dulles last week. Especially since its so freakin’ hard to find the rental places in the first place. I’m assuming I left it at the right place. Honestly? I didn’t stick around long enough to find out.

  • Amber February 15, 2012, 1:58 pm

    This could have easily happened to me..I am glad it didnt though.

  • Stephanie @ Our Marriage Adventure February 15, 2012, 3:21 pm

    Megan, you are looking at this ALL wrong. This was not a horrid story, but rather additional proof that your level of awesome requires a chauffeured driving experience whenever traveling. That is all.

    We should all aspire to be more like you.

  • Tracy P. February 15, 2012, 3:36 pm

    Totally feeling your pain!! I have received the “sorry I didn’t notice you were already parked where I was parking” note, but also the “Learn to park!” note. Probably would have had full-blown anxiety attack with people watching. Heart failure. Sorry Grandma is gone. Glad she’s better though!

  • imperfectmomma February 15, 2012, 3:57 pm

    Oh gurl, I would have turned 45 shades of red…and I’m dark skinned. Well, not really dark dark, but dark enough that you hafta look really hard to see if i’m red. But you persevered what my weird comment is trying to say. Good for you and for shame on them for laughing at you! They should have waited til you left. I mean thats just common courtesy

  • nursemyra February 15, 2012, 4:27 pm

    you are just too cute

  • Nami February 15, 2012, 4:33 pm

    The nerve. A rental car is a rental car, who cares if it belongs to another company – why couldn’t they just pilfer it? C’mon! Right?

  • Christina February 15, 2012, 4:57 pm

    I hate parking/unparking in front of people. That would have been the end of me. Now you tweet about the ridicule you received at the hands of Hertz folks…they should know better than to behave badly. The whole world will soon know about it.
    I do not have a great fondness for GPSs. They, when left to their own devices, will lead us astray. Eventually.

  • Leigh Ann February 15, 2012, 5:57 pm

    Horribly embarrassing, yet completely understandable. Airports in general make me twitchy and nervous.

  • Kari @ bite-sized thoughts February 15, 2012, 7:20 pm

    I firmly believe that if there is a hell, rental companies are based there. It’s always a traumatic experience. Getting out of those underground cramped parking spaces with a new car that has everything on the wrong side (inevitably) and is too big to easily steer (I always ask for a small-ish car and I am far too often ‘upgraded’ to one I can’t really drive, never mind park) with lots of people to witness errors. Your story confirms the worse. They are evil!

  • spilledinkguy February 15, 2012, 7:48 pm

    So THAT’S why the STL was all a-buzz!
    (I thought Nelly was back in town, or something… )

  • Lisa @ Blithe Moments February 15, 2012, 11:11 pm

    I firmly believe that airports are designed to send you insane. Every part of them seems a test to the limits of your patience and a complex web of clues that must be unravelled. Add to that a rental car that you desperately don’t want to dent and it is stressful enough to make anyone lose their senses. Well done on returning the car, and making your flight, and still clearly being sane enough to blog! 🙂

  • Duffy February 16, 2012, 7:52 am

    Did you grandmother drive from St. Louis to Virginia with a broken shoulder, or did she break the shoulder in Virginia? I am confused. I know I should look at old posts, but searching blogs never works for me, like parallel parking. There is an error posting my comment. The blog thinks it is too short. Let’s see if this sentence helps.

    • Megan February 16, 2012, 9:24 am

      Hahaha – neither. And I totally know what you mean about searching blogs, it’s impossible to remember exact phrases and never works with general ideas! She lives on her own in St. Louis but last fall she fell and broke her should. (She was standing on a chair to change the smoke alarm. You know, like most 91yr olds.) So she came to Virginia to live with us, but now having healed has returned home.

      (And you can always ignore the too long comment – I don’t know why it sometimes says that, but it always posts the comment anyway, so presumably it’s just one of the many tactics to try and drive me crazy.)

  • Stephanie@MyThornsHaveRoses February 16, 2012, 9:35 am

    I was experiencing deja vu while reading this. Just sure I have done this in a former life or something because I know it hasn’t actually happened to me. Although, if it makes you feel any better…whenever I drive in a caravan with family (which happens more often than you’d think) if parking is involved, all I need to do now is get out of the car and stand aside and someone from the family (without even a look in my direction) will hop in my car and park it for me. No words needed. It’s understood now that I don’t do parking in crowded places or parallel parking spots. The world thanks me for this.

  • Mark February 16, 2012, 11:29 am

    First, next time, be born Black. No one will ever see you blush again.
    Second, I’m sure they’ve seen a million women unable to park a car. Millions and millions and millions. So don’t beat yourself up over it. You’re what we call, “normal”. wink!

    • Classic NYer February 16, 2012, 10:14 pm

      You know, my husband claims he’s seen me blush, but I think he’s just projecting.

      • Classic NYer February 16, 2012, 10:15 pm

        PS– I’m black. Otherwise, that comment makes no sense.

        PPS– my husband is not black.

        • Megan February 17, 2012, 8:56 am

          Haha – I love that this comment came with crib notes.

  • Sara Hamil February 16, 2012, 12:42 pm

    Let’s focus on the positives, shall we?

    Chances are good that this little incident was the highlight of these employees’ days. You’re kind of a hero!

    Also, you… didn’t hit anything?

    It’s the little things, my friend.

  • Shelltrice February 16, 2012, 2:54 pm

    When I came to visit Best of Fates today – Enterprise Car Rental was the ad displayed – Did you arrange that?

    • Megan February 17, 2012, 8:55 am

      That is so hilariously perfect – I wish I had!

  • Nerdy Redneck Rob February 16, 2012, 5:28 pm

    OK, well god knows I have more than my share of awkward moments maybe that is why I dont think this one is big enough that you deserve the derision you recived.

    Its just not right!

  • Classic NYer February 16, 2012, 10:13 pm

    Methinks they didn’t realize the value of your gift of a free car and repaid your kind generosity with derision. Well, the joke’s on them, because… well, actually I’m not sure why, but it is.

  • Rach February 16, 2012, 10:22 pm

    Oh gracious, this SO would have happened to me! I would definitely end up in a situation just like this, haha!

  • alonewithcats February 17, 2012, 12:29 am

    What kind of name is Hertz anyway? Sounds like the name of a vibrator. Those Hertz workers have to live with that shame. every. single. day.

    • Megan February 17, 2012, 8:59 am

      You’re right – no wonder they were so quick to deride me, desperately trying to distract from their own shame!

  • everton terrace February 17, 2012, 9:15 am

    I did almost this exact same thing last weekend! My saving grace was I didn’t yet have the car. I dragged my suitcase all over the Seattle airport (visiting daughter) and through a parking lot, noticed I got off at wrong stop and did it all over again. Hiked to the very end of what I’m certain is one of the largest parking lots on earth (2nd only to Ikea) to get to Budget. I had actually rented from Dollar. Dollar wasn’t at the airpot. I had to freakin’ go all the way back again and catch a shuttle. Did I mention I was freezing and it was raining? Such fun. This is the only mention of it.

  • liz February 17, 2012, 9:58 am

    Oh Megan is right! This would be very embarrassing, but I bet it happens a lot.


    Not trying to make you feel better with that.

  • Skye February 17, 2012, 11:47 am

    Parallel parking is evil. Clearly, the Commonwealth of Virginia agrees because I did not have to demonstrate my parallel parking ability to pass the driving test to get my license. Perhaps they feel differently in Missouri.

  • Not a Perfect Mom February 17, 2012, 5:24 pm

    my gps is Prudence…she’s quite snippy with me when I happen to go the wrong way…

  • Carrie February 18, 2012, 8:44 am

    “This isn’t our car.”

    Friggin priceless!! Oh to see your face at that very moment!!

  • Ranger February 18, 2012, 8:44 pm

    Did you ask the Hertz people for explicit directions to Budget? You should have made them draw you a map, too. That would have given them some water-cooler gossip!!

    One of my own awkward moments is almost as good: walking into McDonalds I asked for a Whopper. It didn’t involve a car, though, so yours is better.

  • Vince February 19, 2012, 3:23 am

    Well you weren’t stuck in the damn thing since Dec like some bloke I was reading about. And heck rent-a-car, sment-a-car. Who the frick wants to tie up brainpower remembering which turnip anyway. While people that swear by one car rental place or another are idiots. You could say you’ve a liking for a model of car, but not who rents it. That’s like saying one burger place is measurably better than another.

    I lost you there for a while. I was doing a cleanup and your bookmark was on Firefox. I periodically eject browsers from the hard-drive, I feel it keeps them on their toes.

  • Lauren February 20, 2012, 8:29 am

    With all the awkward and uncomfortable things I’ve done in my life, I haven’t done this (yet). So I’m impressed.

  • Yuji February 21, 2012, 4:57 pm

    You made my day with this one! It’s nice to be able to laugh at yourself.

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