Tonight I'm back in my favorite hotel in Siena, Italy. It still has rotary phones.
I've long since learned not to expect things to hurry when I come here - and it's a good thing I ended up planning a little extra time in my trip this time as well. As always, things in Tuscany operate at a different pace than the world around it. The plane landed a few minutes late because of winds, but was close enough to on time not to matter. There were no issues in baggage claim or at passport control. In fact, there were these two beautiful dalmations in the terminal I got to pet while waiting. I miss having a dog around. The big one, not the little evil one. Anyway, things were going fine until I got up to the Hertz counter. The admin in my office forgot to use my Hertz Gold card, so I had to wait in the long line, and spend more time providing passport, license, credit card information, etc. No big deal, just annoying. Because I've always used my Gold card at Pisa, I've never realized that there's a normal, non-gold member lot further out from the airport, that requires a shuttle bus. OK, so I get out there and the bus is full, but the guy gestures that he’ll be right back, and sure enough, he's back in 5 minutes to take me over to the lot. He drops me in the area where my car is labeled as being, and drives off. Problem is, there's no car there. The parking spaces aren't individually numbered, but rather grouped together under a single number, so I figure maybe my car is just over a few spaces one way or the other. Nope. Hm. Try using the clicker thing and see if I can get it to beep at me. It's a Renault Scenic, and doesn't actually have a key, but rather a wacky card that looks like a credit card, only a few times thicker. French ingenuity. Nothing beeping at me. So I walk all the way down to the end of the aisle. And then back up to the other end. And then down the next aisle. Did I mention it's like 90 degrees in Italy right now? By this time I see the shuttle guy coming back around for his next run and flag him down. I gesture at my paperwork and the number where I'm supposed to find the car, and say 'no car. Um.. No auto.' Shit. I should really learn Italian one day. He figures out what I mean when I point at the spot where the car is supposed to be and spread my hands wide and shrug in the international symbol for 'What the hell?'
He takes my not-a-key and says what I assume to be 'wait right here, gringo' and drives off to complete his round. Then he comes back and picks me up and we spend 15 minutes driving slowly through the entire lot looking for the car. Nothing. So we drive back over to the terminal. The way back takes us through the gold-member lot. El Duce slams on the brakes just as we enter. I'm trying to figure out the international sign for 'You just gave me whiplash, you crazy S.O.B' when he gestures across my body at my car. Parked 10 feet from where I got on the shuttle.
In my defense, I have to say that the paperwork really *did* say go to the other lot, and the lady behind the counter really *did* say 'go get on the shuttle'. Ah well. Nothing an extra glass of chianti at dinner won't cure.