Chaos Attraction

Prius Fail

2011-12-11, 4:22 p.m.

So, today was my first day driving a Zipcar. I was so nervous about it-- actually, not so much nervous about today as I am about driving one to Sac tomorrow to an area I don't really know how to FIND-- that I pretty much wasted one of the two days of the week I can sleep being up all night freaked out and with "Feliz Navidad" running through my head for no good reason. Meditation, reading, watching a boring movie, and finally caving in and using the Internet really didn't do anything.

In retrospect, I kinda wonder if that was a sign of something.

So, how did it go, you ask?

Well, it could have gone worse. I personally did not crash the car or hurt it in any way. So there's that. But otherwise...

So, here's the thing: I stupidly rented a 2011 Prius, which I had rented for 3 hours today after I got out of weights class at the gym (12-3). My plans were to start small, with a grocery store trip to the Safeway (neither of them here are within walking distance, plus I am running low on bottled water, and you can't walk that shit home), and then perhaps to drive to the library book sale, dropping off old books and getting new ones without breaking my back.

I got into the car and was naturally uh...rather stumped by it. I spent a lot of time reading all 3 manuals in the car. It said to push down on the brake + push the Power button and it would turn on. SHORTLY AFTER THAT, a "Ready" light was supposed to turn on and then you could move the car. It took me 50 minutes to get the car's "Ready" light to turn on. I pushed it off and on a bunch of times. It beeped at me every time I tried to work the joystick. I read the damn manuals. I pushed every button at one point or another. I thought, "well, it's a good thing I'm not in a rush today LIKE I WILL BE TOMORROW or anything..." at first. I figured it was just me being an idiot or something. I still don't know what I did the first time to get it to finally turn the hell on after 50 minutes, but I finally got the hell out of the gym parking lot.

Driving it BY MYSELF to Safeway was fine. I bought bottled water, a sandwich for eating lunch after the reservation was over (good thinking there), finally used a Coinstar and got $38 worth of cash out of it for 2 years worth of pennies and change (I never remember to do that when someone is giving me a ride there), and finished up around 1:20.

And then the car wouldn't start again. Same problem: car turns on, just won't go. This started to freak me out because not only was I going to run out of time on the reservation ($50 charge for that) if this thing didn't get going, I still had to worry about hauling shit home that I couldn't carry home FIRST. At 2 p.m. I finally caved in and called Zipcar for help. Dude #1 had me push all the buttons multiple times, did things remotely, nothing worked until I (at his instruction) used the car fob to get it going again. Figuring that would do the trick if I shut off the car again, I hung up, got home fast, dropped off the groceries, got back in the car and...

Yeah, that trick didn't work a second time. Had to call for help again. This time Chick #1 had me try some different tricks, which didn't work, and finally the car just shut off entirely. Luckily, this was at my house. So the chick called a tow truck guy, who gave the car a jump. "Has it been sitting out all night?" he asked. "It's a Zipcar, so yeah, probably," I said. He said the problem was that the starter froze up when it got too cold, so that wouldn't work, plus some alarm setting went off on it... So yeah, NEVER RENTING A PRIUS AGAIN, at least not in winter. I share this information with y'all in case you want one and have no garage or something. I gather he runs into this kind of a lot. (Note: The car's name is "Potsie." I wonder why.) The guy nicely followed me back to the gym to drop it off once it worked again and gave me a ride home. Very nice of him. And to their credit, Zipcar extended my reservation to 4:30 just in case I really had problems getting it back, and I should not be getting charged for the overtime since this was not my fault in the slightest. So there's that. They were very helpful over the phone. I am, however, worried about whoever's renting it after me at 4:30.

I got home and got a text from a friend-- want to come over tonight? I may just want to keel over and drink instead.

So yeah, coulda been worse...but could have been better. Better the car keeling over happened to me when I wasn't in a rush today rather than like, tomorrow, but it still makes me more nervous about tomorrow, like I wasn't already. Now I really won't sleep tonight, and I so want to cancel the damn appointment right now.

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