Several months before our planned vacation to Kauai, Terry made reservations for our usual Mustang convertible rental car. We’d heard that most of the rental vehicles were shipped back to the mainland due to Covid, so It was a good idea that he call early.
It’s not Hawaii without being able to experience the panic of pulling over to put the top up during random rainstorms, or traditional holiday photos looking like I put my finger in a light socket. We’ve driven a convertible for years, so it just seems appropriate to drive one on vacation where we could enjoy the sky, the sun and the magnificent beauty of Hawaii.
Meanwhile, our flight, which was scheduled the year before out of San Jose, had been changed from a non-stop to a one stop in Seattle. Quite a bit out of the way, but doable.The mandatory Covid test offered in Nipomo wouldn’t guarantee our results within the allotted timeframe, which left us only one option; drive the 3+ hours to San Jose to take the test two days prior to the flight.
The change of flight times meant, instead of arriving in Hawaii for lunch, we’d arrive at 9:45 pm. Terry called Avis to let them know of our change and to see if we could pick the car up the next morning. The gal said, “Sure!” And within a few moments we got confirmation on our very extravagant $1400 charge. Five minutes later, we received a second confirmation. It changed to $2400! We asked to go back to the original pickup in the evening. They said it couldn’t be done. After much conversation, we settled for a $700 Nissan hardtop!. No convertible this year. We did have an extra $700 to spend on food. We usually force fed anyway. Now we had more money to spend on food because “vacation calories don’t count.”
Everything was moving along perfectly. We got our negative test results, loaded our information into Hawaii’s website, the planes were on time and they let us into Kauai without a “Covid hitch”. At 10:30 pm we arrived at the Avis desk in Kauai with about 30 other people.
After waiting for over an hour, Monica Keliulani announced there were no more cars available. She was wearing a face covering, yet I knew she had a look on her face that said, I will cut you if any of you say another word. Terry waited politely and patiently and didn’t get cut. After what seem an eternity, she found a red Camaro convertible and assigned it to us. We grabbed our luggage and headed out only to find another family attempting to squeeze their oversized luggage into the trunk.
Terry said, “That is the Camaro we also were assigned.” The attendant immediately set their suitcases down and disappeared inside to report the incident.
Terry followed him and I continued to stand with the luggage. I observed the short, buxom woman attempt to shove her grossly overstuffed suitcase back into the tiny trunk. Meanwhile her son, Moishe, who appeared to be around eight, was climbing all around the backseat yelling, “Ma! Ma! What’s going on!” She would holler back, “Nothing! Nothing! Everything is fine, Mo! Sit down!” “Ma! Ma! Ma!
Terry had a handle on the situation, and since we had been traveling for the past 14 hours, which is less time than a trip to Europe, I stayed put to oversee the Camaro dilemma.
He came out of the office followed by Monica who began to look over the empty parking lot. Her hand over her brow like a sailor in a crows nest overlooking the seas. She, evidently was expecting a car to appear in this totally desolate lot. I looked over at Terry and he shushed me before I could even open my mouth. “Just take a deep breathe” he whispered, the lady can have the Camaro.”
If looks could kill, he would have been a goner at that point and It wouldn’t have been by the hands of Monica.
They both disappeared back into the office. I asked Moishe’s mother “May I make a suggestion?” She turned, “What?”
I said, muffled through my mask “If you put down the top, your large suitcase can be dropped into the back seat and then your small case would then fit into the trunk.” Just then she pushed as hard as she could and her enormous suitcase plopped into the trunk. She shrugged her shoulders and got into the car and attempted to put the top down. Anyone who has ever had a convertible can tell you, when the top goes down, it rests inside the truck, unless there is no room in the trunk.
After her failed attempt to make the top go down, she went off to search for someone to help her put the top down. The attendant came back to tell her the oversized suitcase had to come out.
Terry emerged from the deserted office with a set of keys shaking over his head and said “Get in that dirty Mustang.” We grabbed our bags and threw them into the trunk . Terry put his hands on the sticky gear shift and we barreled out of the Avis driveway, before they changed their minds about giving us a Mustang, convertible for $700 for 2 weeks.
As he lowered the top, I could see the woman in the Camaro tugging the luggage out of her trunk and hear Moishe shouting, “MA! MA! MA!
We drove a few blocks, Terry slammed on the breaks and we jumped out in a panic with our hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes. For the next 10 minutes we cleaned every crevice of the car, because we always have been and always will be germaphobes!!!
The following day we went to the local farmers market for Papaya’s, Mango’s and the local fare. After two years, we were really Living Aloha again. Walking back to the car we noticed that a Tarydactal left a white glutinous substance covering the entire hood of our car. “Left over from Jurassic Park perhaps?” I said.
No amount of Kauai rain showers nor bottled water could budge the gummy substance on the hood, so Terry decided to take the car to the drive thru car wash. I had never heard of anyone washing their rental car before, but he couldn’t take it.
Maneuvering into the tunnel, we must have been a little close to the left side of the contraption, but didn’t realize it until it was too late. The first pass of the gigantic brushes passed from front to back with no real drama, but when those spinning brushes moved from back to front, it just about took off our side view mirror. Terry turned the wheel a little hoping to correct the issue. When the brushes came back for a second pass, the mirror slammed into the side of the car and stayed there! We were shocked! On the next pass forward, we heard a loud crack. By then we were panic stricken! We had to get out!! Terry put the car in gear and we catapulted out of the cave unable to see with the suds running down the window.
He quickly put on the semi-working wind shield wipers and came to a halt. He assessed the damages and found that we had a part missing. The side mirror was flopping and the dials on the door to adjust the mirrors inoperable. He went into the office and told the car wash attendant that the brushes had damaged the side view mirror. She said, “Yea, that happens!” He told her he was going into the tunnel to find our part. She said, “You can’t” He went in anyway. She didn’t care.
I thought to myself, what kind of person would risk life and limb entering the forbidden carwash cave to retrieve a piece of plastic on a rental car? He seemed to be gone for the longest time, but I thought it wise to just sit very still in the car and not ask any questions. I could see from the look on his face that his “Happiest Place on Earth” was turning into “The Nightmare on Elm Street.”
Out he came, ecstatically waving the part and I’ll be darn, he fixed the mirror! It looked better than it did in the first place and all the parts snapped into place and the mirrors moved up and down and side to side. He never ceases to amaze me.
Although I could see he was no longer in relaxed mode, I personally thought he was a genius. However, for some reason the whole episode began to tickle me…… uncontrollably. I was hoping he didn’t notice.
For the first time in a year and half, I can honestly say, I’m really glad I had a mask on.