We finally arrived in Paris, merging our way through traffic and roundabouts to the apartment we rented in the Latin Quarter. We dropped our stuff, then raced to the National rental car return somewhere by the Montparnasse train station. Not seeing the standard green kiosk ANYWHERE! we slipped down a side lane of the main street. The SUV driving in front of us apparently missed its turn, then after a block, decided it would be a good idea to simply back up; mind you, we were still moving forward in the same lane behind him. With Spiderman reflexes, The German threw the VW Golf into reverse and backed up just in time for me to see the small green National sign on the side of a parking garage. Divine intervention.
Note the facts:
• The German speaks German, not French
• I don’t speak French
• Neither of us has a cell phone
Here we go. We drove down into the parking garage, saw the signs for Hertz and Europcar, but no sign for National Rental Car. We parked the car in the loading space, and agreed I’d stay with it while the German went hunting for National. Mistake #1. An hour later and no sign of the German, I descended on foot into the bowels of the parking garage. Mistake #2. Learning from the Hertz guy that the National return is two more floors down, I went back to the car and drove it down. Mistake #3. On the fourth floor, I didn’t see signs any signs for National.
I figured by now, the German had probably gone back to our original meeting spot and found that I wasn’t there. I left the car on the fourth floor, and hoofed it back up to meet him. I tried to take the elevator, but when I got out on what I thought was the right floor, I found myself enclosed in a windowed room requiring a security code to get out. All the scary movie scenes of girl-getting-trapped-in-elevator — girl-getting-attacked-in-parking-garage flooded my mind. Panic.
Meanwhile, the German was doing a little panicking of his own. After asking numerous people for directions, interpreting what they said and traipsing for over an hour, he finally located the National kiosk in the train station, not the parking garage. Now, back at our starting point, he found the car and I gone. His first thought was someone had made me to move the car. Not finding me parked, he then thought maybe I was circling the block. After still no sign of me, he started imagining the movie scenes of girl-gets-carjacked-and-kidnapped.
Time stood still. Will we ever see each other again?
Finally, I freed myself from the throngs of the elevator-room, ran to the main street, and there, standing on the curb was the German. Divine intervention! At the same time, he saw me, and in slow motion, we ran toward each other. “I want to go back to our apartment, open our €0.99 wine and just be alone with you,” he said…or something like that.
A toast to our first night in Paris – trauma, drama and romance.