Monday, June 30, 2008

Observations from a Car Window

There's not a whole lot more humbling in life than, after driving for ten years, getting in a rental car and not being able to figure out how to start it. In Salt Lake, I rented a Prius. When I got in the car with my two friends, I sat there trying to figure out how to get the key out of the remote, since there was no key on the chain. To explain, I have a Volkswagen and the key for the ignition pops out the side of the remote. There was no key for the Prius. There also was no key hole on the steering wheel for the key to go into. Apparently that problem fixed itself.

I sat in the parking lot at the airport for almost a half hour trying to figure out how to start the car. That's right, just trying to start the car. There was a giant power button on the dashboard. It didn't do anything. In a final idiotic attempt, which I later found out was not so idiotic, I tried shoving the remote into any opening that would fit it on the dash. It locked in one spot. For a split second I panicked, thinking I put the remote somewhere stupid and wouldn't be able to get it out. Then I realized that was where it was supposed to go. I pushed the power button again and the car started. I did a happy dance in my seat.

I couldn't find the transmission either. I'm used to mine being between the front seats, or maybe even on the steering wheel. I finally found a small knob on the dashboard, right next to where the remote goes that I assumed was the transmission. 45 minutes after getting the keys, I've finally learned how to start and shift the transmission in the car. I know, you're all so impressed with my abilities (trust me, I was too).

When I backed the car up, it beeped. It was the most annoying thing ever. When I put it in drive, it still beeped. Wait, that's not right. I started looking around the dash to see what was wrong. The brake light was on, but I couldn't find the emergency brake release. I finally went and asked someone, and they showed me it was the pedal that I assumed was to pop the hood or used when the transmission was switched to manual. It still beeped when I had the car in reverse.

For how small the car was, I still couldn't see out of it. I couldn't see anything below the windshield wipers, and they may as well have skipped putting a rear window on the car. There was no way to adjust the seat higher. Or if there was, I didn't have the patience to find it at that point. I took pictures of what it's like to be me driving.
The battery gauge went anywhere from being fully charged to almost dead without reason throughout the whole trip. Of course it was almost dead while I was on the freeway to Park City, in the middle of nowhere. I tried not to let that one get to me.

I also didn't like driving in Utah. First of all, there are no signs indicating when two lanes are merging. I almost killed myself twice because I didn't realize lanes were merging. What's that about? The state can't invest in a few signs that let the driver know they should speed up or slow down if they don't want to crash into the car next to them? There are not sufficient signs on their highways to indicate where you're going. I got lost three times going to Park City because the freeways forked and I didn't know which way to go. And finally, people are rude there. For people that think Minnesota drivers are mean, you have yet to drive in Utah. They drive too slow and too close. They also feel it is fair game to steal your parallel parking spots when you're halfway backed into them with your blinker on. I'm from Minneapolis, where most of the parking is parallel, and that has never happened to me. Seriously, who does that?

When I got home, I ran to the garage and gave my Jetta a hug and a kiss. We missed each other.


  1. I can't even tell you how hard I was laughing as I read this! I can totally imagine you trying to figure out how to start the car. I'm also a superfan of the "Maggie's eye view" pics from the car. Lovely touch.

  2. I'll tell you the "F-word" definitely came into play quite often.