Renting a car can be a game of matching wits with an evil corporation, greedy for profit. They seem to be offering a good deal, when you receive a quote, only to confront you upon reaching the counter with add-ons, tempting offers, and insurance options.
I was fortunate to rent through the German automobile club, because they include most options at no extra cost and all insurance. Still, the agent tried his game of presenting dire consequences of not taking the fuel option or increasing insurance coverage in an effort to milk more profit out of an unsuspecting soul (not me!). I have always returned rented cars with a full tank, because I do not like to make a gift of gas to the rental company. Their fuel option, which I chose this time for no reason that I can explain, only makes sense if you return the car with the tank as close to empty as you can get. That is more difficult than it sounds and turned out to be a test of nerves.
I had no idea about the car’s gas consumption and only a rough idea of the distance from out condo to the airport. I hoped that half a tank would be enough, but it was only a guess. It is no fun to watch the gas gauge heading south on an interstate with few exits. Which would come first: the airport or an empty tank? I began to wonder if a relaxed ride might be worth the cost of a few extra gallons of gas in the tank (especially at a cost of ½ the price in Europe).
Probably not…because I made it to the rental car return at Orlando airport with less than ¼ of a tank. I had the feeling that I had beat the bastards…
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.