Thursday, October 3, 2013

Visiting flood country? Don't drive Satan's car.

I grew up on the cold, wet part of the West Coast, Portland, Or-eeee-gone. Visiting it should be like coming home. The coffee! The LL Bean informality! The foggy mist created by sudden torrential downpours! The greenery so verdant it you think you're in a cold-ass jungle!

These are all nostalgic things for me. You know what's not? The penetrating cold than rides the Pacific Northwest damp. It seeps into your very core. I literally cannot get warm there in the rainy months. All nine of them. I remembered this within an hour of arrival. My jaw started to ache and didn't stop 'til I was back in Oakland. Portland isn't actually that cold, between fifty and sixty degrees my whole trip, but the wetness makes it inescapable.

Mother Magoo picked me up at the airport in the pouring rain and the first thing she said to me was, "My knees are killing me because of the cold. I can't drive any more. We're putting you on the rental agreement." I thought it was weird because we really needed to get to the wedding, but I went along. During the short drive she tells me she doesn't think she should be driving at night any more. She thinks that part of her life might be over because she can't seem to handle it any more. She says her eyesight is worsening. I disagree with this bizarre idea since I've never once heard her have a problem with driving over hill and dale in Oakland. She hates California drivers, freeways and bicyclists, but so does everyone else.

Getting to the car rental place proves slightly difficult because Mother Magoo goes in the wrong entrance. She can't seem to find the front parking lot. I get annoyed because we're running late. We finally get to the office, they add me, forcing me to pay a second driver fee for the whole week Mother Magoo rented the car for instead just the three days I will actually be there. I restrain my rage since they're motto is "Budget Rent a Car: We fucking hate you!"

In the parking lot, Mother Magoo makes a beeline for the passenger side, saying nothing. I get in, check the mirrors, look around the interior to familiarize myself with the layout and visibility.

Me: "Mom."
Mother Magoo: "Yes, honey?"
Me: "We're going to die in a fiery crash."
She starts laughing so hard tears fall.
Me: "Possibly before we leave this parking lot. I don't know if I can back up. Please don't hold it against me when we get to Heaven that I killed us both within hours of my arrival."
Mother Magoo: "As long as I'm not driving I don't care what happens. I can't take it any more. I can't drive this car for one more minute."
Me: "I'm happy you didn't kill yourself before I got here....but we're gonna die."

I said all of this WITHOUT TURNING THE CAR ON. The car, a Chevy Cruze, is such a flaming piece of shit it can only have been designed to kill people off. I'm 5'10'. Tall? Yes. So unusually tall I should have problems driving a fucking four door sedan? No. Anyone associated with this car should be forced to drive one until they die. Would only take a month or two.
Do you know why the car ahead of me looks so visible? Because we're parked. The curvature of the interior creates a giant fucking blind spot to the left.
Even if you remove the handicapped placard, some genius car engineer placed the rear-view mirror in such an obstructive position (with a black patch on the windshield behind it for no reason) that it cuts off a huge part of the right side of the windshield.

Trying to look to the left? Good luck. The camera is level with my eye. The only way to see the left lane is to completely recline my seat or stick my head out the window. Neither of which could be reasonably done since my head was a scant inch from the roof as was. Also, it alternated between regular rain and storming every day I drove.

The pictures don't really do justice to the crazy warp of the interior that, added to the crappy design, means the driver had visibility out of about 55% of the windshield. Mother Magoo laugh-cried all the way to the wedding because she thought she had become a terrible driver. She thought she was too old to be on the road, that it was her fault. Keep in mind she's 5'7" and had the exact same experience I did.

The output from the defroster, which had to run constantly in the high humidity, hit me directly in the eyes as I drove. The backup camera is necessary since the back window is shit too. However camera display actively works against you because it makes objects look further away than they actually are. The giant fucking key fob/controls don't actually start the car. There's a button for that. So what does Budget do? They chain two of the giant fucking things together and tells you they can't be separated. Budget can't be bothered to keep track of multiple keys so you get this huge mass of keys you can't use along with the fobs. They weighed over a pound. I couldn't fit them in my pocket.

I wanted to switch cars but Mother Magoo said this was the second car she'd gotten. She only got it by raising holy hell with the incompetent, rude staff. So I drove it and we lived because I drove ten miles an hour, regardless of the road. Every lane change to the left required both of us working the windows and praying. I drove like a fucking champion and refused to think about my blood pressure the entire time. Until the day I die Mother Magoo's face when I got behind the wheel will stay with me. It was the happiest I've ever seen her.

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  1. Why can't my life be more like yours. Traveling terrors with your mother. Toddler and husband left at home for more adventures to discover and feel guilty about. Oh, I guess there's still time.

    1. Mother Magoo is a good travel companion because she makes chaos fun. Life may suck, but you're laughing the whole time.

  2. I think that rental companies buy these cars just so folks will get into accidents and then they can collect the insurance money.... because they are constantly buying these terrible, worst design ever cars.

    Glad you made it back some safely!

    1. I never thought of that! Genius evil plan. I am in the wrong business! Lord Lucius sits at his desk at the head of all rental car companies cackling. "A Chevy Cruze? B'wahahahahaha!"


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