Rental Cars and Relationships

I get to have a unique view into people’s lives. After only calling for a few days, I’ve noticed two trends with people who are in relationships, the first being what number is put down on the rental agreement. I can’t count the number of arguments I’ve heard that start with “Why is (car rental company) calling MY cell phone when YOU’RE the one who rented the car?” I can only assume, based on the indignant tone, that this is followed, after the call is over, with “Did you put YOUR car on MY credit card, too?” I can only guess the reasoning behind putting down your significant other’s number, such as knowing it off the top of your head, or knowing that they’ll be easier to get in touch with than you are, or just not thinking that there will be a customer service follow-up call. Whatever the reason, the women who pick up the phone get indignant rather quickly. And I say the women, I might add, because I have yet to hear that comment from a man.

The second trend, although less common than the first, has come up a somewhat unsettling number of times. “Did she not return that car yet?” Yes, that’s right, as soon as they get a call from (car rental company), a surprising proportion of male respondents assume that the lady of the house failed to return the car. These gentlemen then willingly go to fetch the person I’m calling for, and she is usually quite happy to answer my questions. So, if I correctly understand the reasoning behind that question, the woman got to that house somehow. If the rental isn’t in the garage, or out in the driveway, or parked on the street, I would say it’s safe to assume that yes, she did in fact return the car. To push the point further, although I know this is something that the man who picks up the phone has no way of knowing, I don’t call anyone unless the car has already been returned.

I hate to paint men as unobservant and bumbling idiots, and I really feel like I should be sticking up for my own kind here, but this pair of tendencies would seem to indicate that guys are either rather lazy or simple-minded, take your pick. Gentlemen, if you rent a car, put your own number on the rental agreement. There’s a chance we’ll call you, and your wife/girlfriend/mom won’t be happy if you use her cell number. Also, it’s not a library book, your wife/girlfriend/mom probably isn’t just going to forget to take it back to (car rental company) at the end of the day. I hate to sound harsh here, but come on. You’re making “Everybody Loves Raymond” seem a lot less hyperbolic than it used to. Step up your game.

In the interest of fairness, however, I should also say this: Ladies, don’t yell at him just because he put down your number on the contract, it isn’t a big deal. And please return the car when you say you will, or else he may never trust you to do that again.

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