I went to the car hire offices this morning, and they told me that I'd have to go back to the car and then ring the rescue number on the form. They said they'd try to do something nice with the hire rate when I returned the car on Wednesday.
I got into a taxi and set out towards where the car was, and during the trip had a conversation during which the rest of the day was cancelled.
I went to the car, found it where we'd left it.
At 10:37 I called the rescue service, and had a 22-minute conversation. They took all manner of reference numbers, contract numbers, vehicle identification numbers. They also took my name, and my phone number. They were a little surprised to be given the number of a non-US cellphone, but I reminded them that they were a rescue organisation under contract to an international car-hire firm, and that we were close to a major international airport. I gently reminded them that 97% of the population come from outside the US. They told me that the rescue vehicle would be with me in 40-45 minutes. I settled down to wait.
At 12:02 I called once more, and had a 10-minute conversation. The person they needed to talk to in order to find out what was going on wasn't available, and they'd discovered that they weren't able to call international numbers from that department. Could I call again in ten minutes?
At 12:25 I called once more, and had an 11-minute conversation. They explained that the pick-up truck had been around and that I hadn't been there. They had put me into the system as a "he's not there" and cancelled the job. If I could remain with the vehicle they would send the person out again and he'd arrive in 40-45 minutes. Oh, and could I give some more detailed directions for my location, please? They also asked me for my phone number, and were a little surprised to be given the number of a non-US cellphone. They expressed some doubt about whether they'd be able to call me back.
At 13:37 I called once more, and had a 10-minute conversation. I wished the rescue service a happy anniversary, congratulated them on the occasion of my having waited for three full hours. I explained that the last time I'd been told it would be 40-45 minutes had been a little over an hour earlier, and I enquired gently whether I should make plans for an overnight stay. They said they'd try to find out what was going on, and they asked me for my number. They were a little surprised to be given the number of a non-US cellphone, but they made a careful note of it just in case. Just as the music-on-hold was replaced by my interlocutor, the truck went past on the nearby main road and disappeared around the back of the mall. By this point, my friend on the phone had the garage on the other line, and her friend at the garage had their driver on his other line, and in a couple of minutes the truck arrived at my car.
Starting the car took approximately twelve seconds. It was, as we suspected, a flat battery.
(In other news, the "magnetic poetry kit, erotic edition" includes the word "pudding" but not the word "wanky". "Flick" is in there.)