Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Spice Of Life

Juneau has very scarce parking downtown, and for ten years I had a job that required me to do home visits three days a week. The office I worked out of, where I hung out the other two days of the week, was three blocks from my apartment. The solution was to deal with Rent-A-Wreck on a weekly basis. This was an ideal solution in many ways. I had the car when I needed it and could run errands to the cleaners or grocery store after work on those days. If anything went wrong, Rent-A-Wreck met me where I was with a replacement car. They worried about getting studded tires on before the first snow and off before the legal date. They delivered the car to my office parking lot one afternoon and picked it up from in front of my apartment on the appropriate morning.

The only problem was that I never knew what the layout of controls was going to be from week to week. There was the steering wheel that was so positioned that I could not see* the headlight control. The cup holder that sat (attached) on the floor and would have been perfect for an orangutan. The ignition switch on the left hand side of the steering column. The rear window defroster control disguised as a lighter**.

None of these things would have been a problem (well, that cup holder would have) if a person owned the car and so knew about them. But, driving a different car every week -- it was always such a crap shoot! I always started with a five minute hunt for various controls before I even turned the key. It is singularly amazing the variety of placements and shapes that the same basic controls can take. Occasionally I would have to call the owner and ask where something was. The only thing that didn't give me trouble was the hand brake -- as cold as it gets here, the hand brake can freeze and require heating to undo it. So, we just crimp wheels on the hills and trust the earth to stay flatish on the flat.

* I am short. The wheel was low. My line of sight was directly on the curve.
**The list used to be much longer, but time has dulled it and these are the only ones I can recall off-hand.

Logo courtesy Vancouver Island Travel.

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