Traverse City Record-Eagle


January 5, 2014

Marta Hepler Drahos: A return trip from hell


All is well until Detroit, which is just recovering from a snowstorm. We discover that the rental car slides on the slightest slippery patch. It’s too late to return it, so we drive 45 mph all the way to central Ohio, where we finally run out of snow and ice. We make it to Kentucky but are too tired to reach our destination. At 2 a.m. we pull into a motel and fall asleep the minute our heads hit the pillows.

We have a wonderful vacation with my sister. But on the way home, when we pull into the dealership to pick up our repaired car, we see a sign on the window that says its closed because of a power outage. We flag down a car circling the parking lot and learn it’s the dealership owner. He helps find our invoice and key, takes down our credit card number, wishes us a merry Christmas and leaves.

We transfer everything from the rental car to our car and begin to follow each other to the airport to return the rental, a process that’s complicated by the fact that all the traffic lights are out on Lansing’s busiest boulevard.

Almost immediately my gas light comes on. The car starts to buck (another misfiring coil, we later learn). Steam once again belches out from under the hood.

We find a gas station with power, return to the dealership, repeat the transfer in reverse, leave a key with a note in the night deposit box, and call the rental agency to extend the rental agreement for another week.

We drive home and hope the coming New Year brings better luck.

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