My task after we returned from last weekend’s trip to Spain was return the rental car to the train station in Montpellier, fill it with gazol first, do the necessary paper work at the rental agency, then drive Julie’s truck back here. It might have been simple enough in, say, Los Angeles but the prospect seemed daunting –Montpellier is big and unfamiliar and my French c’est ne tres pas bien. Since Julie’s back was acting up, I asked one of her French speaking friends to accompany me.
The friend, very sweetly agreed to go, didn’t want to drive herself, but is one of those people who constantly applies imaginary brakes. She also screamed warnings, clutched at the dashboard, cringed, winced, shrieked and by the time we got to Montpellier had reduced herself and me to hysterical wrecks. Really, is my driving that bad? Rhetorical question. Still we managed to get gazol, return the rental car and drive the truck out of the parking lot and head back to Montpeyroux. Then, in the middle of a roundabout, the passenger door flew open. And then it wouldn’t close. I pulled over and we both tried slamming it, fiddling with the lock, slamming it again. It wouldn’t stay closed.
The friend said, understandably, that she didn’t want to go back on the motorway, and knew an alternate way through villages, etc. After an hour or so of trying–with her holding the door closed and pumping imaginary brakes–we still hadn’t found the alternate route. At one point, I’d circled a roundabout so many times, with her peering through the windshield at the place names, that I started feeling dizzy. It was also hot. We decided to try to tie the door close with what we had at hand–a computer cord and a shawl. After protesting that the shawl was too pretty to use, she then climbed back in the truck over the driver’s seat and we tested the safety of the door by driving around the roundabout another three times–her idea– The door stayed closed and we got onto the motorway and made it back to Montpeyroux. I drank so much wine that night, I barely remember going to bed.