You’re joking, right?

I take calls for the equivalent of Onstar.

Tonight I got a call generated from a vehicle. No account came up – just the blank record of the vehicle in our system – which means the person on the line is not a paying customer and really should not be assisted in any way except perhaps to transfer them over to our roadside team.

But I’m nice so I try to help people anyway.

A woman comes on the line and tells me she is renting this car and needs help. Of course, I’d be glad to help! What issue are you having?

“How do I start this thing?”

I ask for clarification, thinking perhaps she means ‘set up services’.

No. She means ‘how do I turn on this car.’ I am… baffled. I can no more explain such a basic concept to a grown adult than I could explain ‘how to sit down’ or ‘how to high five someone’. How do you respond to that without coming across as sarcastic?

I explain that I am customer service for OnStar’s cousin service, that I do not have access to a manual, and that the vehicle brand department that could assist her has left for the evening.

She asks if there is anyone there who can tell her how to start the car. Well, no ma’am. Truthfully it’s that I don’t know a single coworker who could explain it without laughing at her on a recorded line. I would suggest the manual.

Where’s that?

…. probably in the glovebox.

She doesn’t even attempt to look and see if it’s there. Just begins complaining that she was told by Car Rental Company that she could press the button in the car 24/7 for assistance.

I explain that we are there to assist 24/7 for our subscribers but that we don’t have a department here at 10pm EST who can access her manual and tell her how to start the car. Also, she’s not a paying customer nor a potential one so she shouldn’t be wasting my time (I didn’t say that).

She asks again if there is anyone who can help, and why can’t I tell her how. I explain I don’t even have a way to know whether the vehicle she’s in is a push to start or keyed start.

Well, she says, I can see that. I could tell you that. Is that all you’d need to know to help me?

At this point I start to wonder if she’s drunk. Because if you can see which one it is, why exactly do you need help? Either you turn the key, or you push the button. And considering the hour and her location (given by the car when she called), she isn’t calling from the Rental Company parking lot. So she’s already been driving the car.

She asks if I could bring a dealership on the line to help her, or transfer her to Car Rental Company. No ma’am. We are not in any way affiliated with CRC just because they happen to own our cars, so I cannot do an external transfer to them. You are welcome to call them yourself. And all the dealerships near her are closed.

Well can’t you find one that’s open?

No ma’am, I will not cold call Brand dealerships on the other side of the country to have them explain how to start a car for you, even assuming I could find one that’s open and didn’t laugh and hang up.

At this point, after 8 minutes of trying not to scream, I offer our roadside center. I explicitly tell her they will likely not be able to assist either (because what the hell does she want explained?!). However, they may be able to get someone dispatched out to help her start the car.

Well, how long will that take?

Probably a while since it’s 10pm and no tow company or dealer is going to prioritize a rental car driver who claims they don’t know how to start the car. But my official answer is that I don’t know, roadside can determine that. She agrees to the transfer.

While attempting to bring roadside on the line, she drops the call on her end. As far as I can tell, she didn’t call back.

Ten minutes of my life, wasted.

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“You should probably be calling the police, not us”

Can you shut up and let me help you?