My parents arrived in France yesterday afternoon. MB is still in the Philippines so it is my duty to escort them around. This may not sound like a daunting task but for the past 6 months I have been so dependent on MB that I may not have paid as much attention to things as I should have.
After arriving at the airport, we had to go and find where the rental car was.
Mom: So which bus do we take?
Me: I’m not sure, hold on…
I go to look at the differences between the two stops.
Dad: Well, they both say Hertz.
Me: Yeah, but this one has a key on it. I think that key means that this is where the office is.
A bus pulls up.
Mom: I’m going to ask.
Me: Mom, it’s not that one; that one doesn’t have the key.
My Mother goes up to the French bus driver and asks in Franglish. He looks thoroughly confused.
Me: It’s this one, I’m sure it’s this one!
I point desperately at the other bus stop. Oh my god, parents are SO embarrassing! I’ve become a pre-teen.
Finally, we board the correct bus, though on the 2 minute drive we endlessly debate whether it is, in fact, the right one.
Me: I think this is just going to a parking lot.
Mom: I think so too. We may have to go back.
Dad: I think we are fine.
Me: Look, it is all just parking lo–
Dad: See? There is the office.
He gives the two of us a smug look. We unload the bags and wheel up to the front desk.
Mom: Well, do you have the reservations?
Dad: No, I don’t know. I don’t know what happened to them.
He says this matter-of-factly as though their fate is sealed.
Mom: Oh my god!
Dad: Well, if they don’t have them then we will just have to figure something out. If we have to rent another car we will rent another car.
Me: It’s not the 80’s; they will have you in the computer.
The check-in clerk kindly attempts to smother her laughter during this conversation; she and I exchange a knowing look that says, ‘yes, all families are the same’. We then get to the car and after spending about 15 minutes trying to figure out how to put the seats down we were on our way. My parents ‘ooh’d’ and ‘ahh’d’ during the drive, looking at the fields of sunflowers and the mountains in the distance; enjoying the French countryside. It was peaceful and beautiful…then we hit town.
Dad: So which way is it?
Me: I think you need to go down this street to the right…
Mom: Well, let’s see what the GPS says.
Me: You know I live here, right?
I’m so cool and knowledgeable.
Mom: I know, I just want to check.
Dad: I can’t turn down that street it is one way.
Me: Crap, really?
Dad: So, what do I need to do?
Me: I don’t know!
Dad: Well, I need to do something!
Me: Turn right!
Dad: Okay, I hope this isn’t the wrong direction.
Me: Maybe you should check the GPS.
My Mother gives me an innocent look that speaks volumes as she picks up the GPS. ‘Not as dumb as we look, are we?’
Twenty minutes later we are pulled over to the side of the road, attempting to decipher the GPS, the map from the hotel with no street names, and my directional skills (or lackthereof). After way too much input and three different opinions, we attempt to move out.
Dad: How do you get this thing in reverse?
Mom: Oh my god, you can’t get it in reverse?
Me: What? You are kidding me.
I climb into the front seat and my Father and I examine the gear shift.
Me: Where is the car manual?
My Mother opens the glove compartment.
Mom: Oh my god, there is no manual.
Me: Good stars! (my colloquialisms come out when I’m with my family)
My Father keeps attempting to get the car into reverse and the car keeps inching forward. We are stuck, in an illegal parking space a block from the hotel which is in the opposite direction on a one way street. If we go forward any more we will ram the car into a poll.
Mom: I’ll bet that insurance option isn’t looking so bad now. I’ll push, just put it in neutral.
My Mother, ever the girl scout, jumps out of the car and attempts to push the mini-van sized vehicle backwards with my father and I sitting in it. Oddly, it doesn’t budge. I jump out to help, bracing my strappy sandals on the asphalt while we both push. French bicyclists ride by and look at us curiously; she and I are both laughing out loud. I can almost hear their internal dialogue, “Americans…they are so ‘strenge’, laughing like ‘leun-a-tiques’ and ‘pooshing’ this car. Why they do not just put it in reverse?”
Finally, with no solution in sight, I suggest that someone walk to the hotel and ask for assistance. My Father is dubious. My Mother begins to walk towards the hotel; I move back to the gear shift.
Me: It’s so strange; usually you just push down to move it-AH!!!!!!! Eureka!
Mom: What? What happened?
My Mother jogs back to the car enthusiastically.
Dad: She got it! See, there is this little ring that you have to push up…
We all get back into the car, euphoric at our triumph. My Father pulls the car back into position, ready to move out of the parking space.
Dad: Okay…so which way do we need to go?