After using the beach prior to sunrise, and after seeing the below-sea-level aquarium, I decided to leave Eilat. My time there was not exactly propitious. On arrival, I called one of the city’s two chief rabbis and asked what restaurants were kosher. I was told: “none.” So I left. I headed north—there was only one road in that direction. I was on my way to Safed. It was Friday, 9 AM. I had a full tank of gas—and I was in a black suit wearing sunglasses. Really. I was on my way to an arranged date to take place before sundown. But I never got there; I never made it to that date.
I was driving a new Subaru. A rental car. The sun was out, and it was hot—hot as only a desert could be hot. I was going about 90 mph, maybe 100, and I had a blow out. My car exited the safety of the raised road. In effect, I flew off a small cliff. It all happened so fast. It was over in what felt like an instant. And then the car landed, luckily, right side up. Thinking that my gas tank might be punctured, I exited the car hastily—not that there was much left of it. All the tires flattened. All the windows fractured in 1000s of pieces. A total wreck. I was fine—just the smallest cut on my left hand. A scar I still have. I was fine, not one broken bone or damaged organ. There was nothing left of the car. I fished out my kit from the wreck—all intact.
If I ever go by that spot, I have to say Hallel there.
The only other vehicle on the road nearby was an Egged tour bus. It was full of German tourists. Really. I am not making this up. I was befriended by a German nurse who took my pulse. The tourists all thought it was a miracle that I survived. The driver said: “If you could do that again, go to Hollywood as a stuntman.”
The driver offered me a ride to Masada. From there I would call the rental car agency, and get a new car, or, at least, a way back to a settled abode before sundown. I called the rental company. I told them I was at Masada, and that I’d need a replacement car, “as there had been some damage to their property.” Could they bring me a new car? It was about 11 AM, and they hoped to come by 2 to 4 pm.
When they picked up the car, they recognized that it was totalled. No chance of repair. It was then that I had an epiphany—which I’d like to share with you. It is the sort of thing Bertie Wooster might say to Jeeves. If you return a rental car so damaged that it cannot be repaired, you don’t have to (and, indeed, you cannot) fill up the gas tank when you return it. The incentives do not make any sense—but that is the world we live in.
Seth Barrett Tillman, My Bertie Wooster Moment, New Reform Club (Aug. 7, 2018, 12:08 PM), (https://reformclub.blogspot.com/2018/08/my-bertie-wooster-moment.html)