As Americans we're big on inventing new ways to skin a cat.
There's always a smarter, stronger, better plan out there waiting to be discovered. Change is part of our mentality. But here in Europe? Not so much. Two plus two equals four -- not one plus three or four plus zero. It's two plus two and only two plus two.
The day we flew into Sardinia was warm and sunny and unexpectedly calm. Any time you try to take four small children across borders and seas it's bound to come with an extra bag of trouble.
So we spent the first six hours of travel time waiting for the other shoe to drop. And drop it did.
We stepped off the airplane into the lovely Italian sunshine and made our way to the baggage area.
My husband had secured and paid for a rental car before we arrived, so it was just a matter of collecting keys. He stepped in line behind eight other weary travelers to wait his turn.
An hour later we were still grounded in the tiny airport watching our children slowly melt into international puddles of hunger while the line inched its way forward.
Finally, after nearly 90 minutes, Jason made it to the front of the line with Harrison, 8, right beside him.
I sat 20 feet away and had a clear view of both Jason and Harrison. Soon I noticed Jason's hand gestures had become more aggressive and Harrison's eyes began to shift back and forth.
I motioned to our son to come over and he did, shoulder's slumped and ready to cry.
"What's up, Buddy?" I asked with a smile.
"They won't give us the car, our credit card doesn't work and we have to go back to Germany," he exclaimed.
He sat down and burst into tears. I quickly soothed him and went to the counter.
We hate credit cards but there's a time and a place for everything. Traveling with VISA is safe and sometimes the best option, especially where rental cars are concerned. The week before vacation we had received our replacement VISA in the mail.
"Cool," Jason said, showing me the super hip card.
Instead of being a horizontal card, it read vertically with the number raised but in a much sleeker, smaller font. We admired the trendy design and didn't give it a second thought.
But when Jason showed the card to the Italian lady she refused to accept it.
"No," she said, "This is not a credit card."
He went the rounds but she refused to even call VISA to validate the card's information. It didn't look right, therefore it was not acceptable. Since the vehicle was already paid for (not cheap on the island) we were out hundreds of dollars.
So he pulled out our debit card.
Once again, VISA has recently started removing the raised numbers on their cards and both our debit cards have the numbers printed on the front without the raised font.
"Here," he said, "Just use this."
She took one look at the card and shook her head.
"No," she said, "I cannot do this. This isn't a credit card. The numbers, they are flat. These are not credit cards."
We stared at her. We stared at each other. We stared over at our public display of posterity, three of which were loudly leaking tears about life in general.
Removing myself from the front of the line -- lest I reach into the booth and cause bodily harm to the Italian lady -- (I really wasn't in a Win Friends and Influence People mood) Jason and I did a quick pow wow. He checked with the five other car companies. Same song, no deal.
And then I remembered that I had my old debit card from the states tucked into a pocket in my wallet. The account is mostly dormant but a quick transfer of funds and it would be up and running without a problem. I ripped open my wallet and held my breath, hoping it was still there.
It was and it worked. I've never been so happy to see punched out plastic in my life. Thank you, Wells Fargo.
Annie Valentine is a wife, mother and columnist. Readers can contact her at email@example.com or visit her blog at regardingannie.wordpress.com.