Sometimes you hit a day like this! Our hire car is the most expensive part of our daily sabbatical costs and for that you hope it spares you trouble. But almost from the start the dashboard computer has misbehaved with alarming free-will. We could tolerate it going blank or creating confused patterns but one rainy cold night last week it immobilized the engine in Tesco car park. Eventually it relented and we could start up again. But yesterday it flashed up: acceleration reduced and dropped me down to a crawl -to the immense irritation of the queue behind. So, fearing the bureaucratic consequences I called the rental car company (Hertz). One guy said I should go to the nearest outlet in Oxford for a replacement vehicle. But calling Oxford I was told by another person that nothing could happen until I sent for the AA emergency team and they would declare the source of trouble and authorize me to gain a replacement. I explained that I knew the source of trouble...but they patiently repeated this was the procedure. 2 hours later the emergency repairman turned up. In the freezing cold he sat inside the car and pummelled the dashboard, hitting the little computer screen with full-fist and banging the whole area. Eventually he told me that the dashboard computer was faulty. What! He authorized the car's replacement. I called up the Oxford office again, but they said there would be no car until after 11:00 am today.
So began another frustrating day. My instructions where to turn off the busy road into Oxford weren't clear. We made several false attempts. We asked at a store and were several miles out of our way. Another store sent us right back into the city. After 40 minutes of searching we found it. The office manager was answering two phones at once and explained she was running two separate offices! She asked us if the petrol tank was full. Oh, no! I had filled it up a couple of days before but I honestly thought with all the extra pain this faulty car had caused they would waive cost of a little drop of petrol. No Way! What kind of customer service did we expect? She said we could pay her 45 pounds to fill the car up. We were appalled. It only costs 51 pounds to fill the entire tank. The nearest petrol station was way back through the traffic and another half-an-hour trip. And because it is notoriously difficult to find we needed a sketch map to show how to enter it. Weirdly, it was closed with cones barring access. Carol was off to investigate! A few minutes later they reopened and we could top up for 12 pounds.
Eventually we were given our next rental car - considerably smaller but with dashboard computer working! To put frustration behind us we decided to go park-and-ride and celebrate with two budget meals. "Ten minutes wait", the waiter said. Oh yes! 40 minutes later half our order came. The people on the next table sympathizingly said it was the slowest they had ever known. We smiled at the theme unfolding and began anticipating how they rest of the day might unfold. Yes, we were told to get on the wrong bus and eventually ended up with our car for a weary drive home. I commented (!) to Carol about the hours 'wasted' but she reminded me how life is like this sometimes. Actually being a Christian is much more difficult in frustration isn't it, but unless our faith works in frustration it's not very valuable, is it? Thank you Lord for being with me in this day, too.