Bargain Car Rentals office was closed. We arrived to Hobart Airport at 10 am on Sunday, their working hours started at 9 am but the office was closed. There was a piece of paper on the door with a phone number which I was asked to call if the office was unattended. As it was a mobile number, I assumed that it belonged to a local office worker. I dialled it and explained that I was waiting at the office door.
“What office?” I was asked. Well, I knew that Hobart wasn’t a big city so maybe they had just one employee who served all Hobart offices on request.
“Airport,” I replied.
“In which city?” asked the person on the other end with a note of annoyance in the voice. My next thought was too crazy to think. Could it be that the same guy served all… nah, impossible!
“Hobart,” said I, wondering to which geographical level we would ascend. I was slightly disappointed, but relieved, when I was told to wait a couple of minutes.
While I was waiting I mused that Budget Car Rentals would be a better name for the company, but the name was already taken. Anyway, they would have to invent a new word instead of “budget” as Budget’s desk in the airport was staffed.
A guy arrived pretty soon and was quite efficient. In 5 minutes’ time we finished the paperwork and left the office with a car key. We were told there were some scratches here and chips there but the first thing one noticed about that car was its colour. It had a hue of fine rust. The manufacturer probably called it bronze, but trust me, I know what I am talking about. A day later I accidentally smeared my jeans with rust which covered a bumper of some ancient Toyota van on Bruny Island ferry. I couldn’t wipe it off and for the rest of the trip I was wearing jeans which matched the car colour like some Formula 1 driver.
The model that I booked was called Toyota Aurion. When I started the engine an LCD screen greeted me with the message “Welcome to Camry…” Well, it’s nice to be welcome.
To be fair, Aurion was mentioned in the car guide section on the website but the booking confirmation only said that the car would be full size. I guess, a rare car gets more full-size than Camry, so I got what I booked. Besides, I saw the clerk leave a minute ago, so the office was unattended and, if I wanted to press the matter, I had to call that mobile number again. The thought of having to explain which planet I was on was too much for me so I settled for Camry.
The car was well-vacuumed but rather half-heartedly washed outside. I also found that it had bad breath – when I turned on air conditioning it filled the cabin with a scent of stale clothes. This was apparently due to its old age. I had been renting cars for 4 years before I bought my own but it was the first time that I got a car that clocked up more than 100,000 km! Later I read that Camry was a pretty reliable vehicle, but it was later. In the meantime, I dreed my weird.