Once upon a time . . .
We were driving between Granada and Seville when we saw a tower off the road, glimmering like a giant magnifying glass and emitting a blinding beam of light. Imagine coming across the Eye of Sauron not in Mordor, but in sunny Andalucia.1The incongruity beckoned; the mystery had to be solved. So we pulled off the highway.
We found ourselves on a dirt path through farmland, the tower closer but no more comprehensible at this distance. We continued a bit further until we came to a part of the road which had been washed away and was now immersed in a puddle of indeterminate depth. Though we were in a tiny European rental car that could easily have doubled as a go-kart, we pushed onward. Halfway across, the tires spun uselessly and then settled into the mud with a disheartening squelch. We were stuck.
After hours of digging out the tires by hand and using whatever objects were around to create a solid path out of the mud, we decided to give up and call our rental car roadside assistance. I explained what had happened (leaving out the “seduced by a magical and possibly evil tower” element): we had pulled off the highway and gotten stuck on a dirt road. The agent, it seemed, also got stuck on the “dirt road” part.
“But,” she said, “where on the highway are you?”
“Well,” I said, “we’re not quite on the highway. We’re just off it on a dirt road and that’s where we’re stuck.”
“Hmm,” she said, perplexed. “But then you’re not really on the road, so you can’t really be covered by roadside assistance.”
This logic was so simple as to be unassailable. I hung up and we set ourselves even more desperately to the task of digging out the car – which we eventually succeeded in doing.
(Oh yeah, and the mysterious lightsaber industrial complex? Just a solar tower.)
Moral of the story
If you ever think to yourself, “I wonder if this road will be passable in my rental car,” do not attempt. If you must attempt, it is prudent to check the parameters of your roadside assistance in advance.