The Rental Car

I booked the airfare.  I chose the hotel.  I picked the rental car company.  But I was only following orders.  He said to go for the least expensive. I chose economy all the way down the line.

That’s how we ended up with the orange on wheels.   The rental car lady handed us the keys and said we’d find our car in space 14.   We walked out to the lot.  There in space A14 was a lovely, ruby colored Infinity G37.  I said, “Sweet!”  Amoeba said, “That’s not our car hon.”  There was an Audi A5 next to it.  Okay, it’s not an Aston Martin, but it’s still a nice car.  I walked toward it.   Amoeba said, “Hon, that’s not our car, either.”

So I turned around hoping for something wonderful, like maybe an Aston Martin.  (Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she??)  Amoeba was standing next to a classy, pearl white Lincoln Town Car.  Unfortunately on his other side was a bright orange Dodge Caliber.  Guess which car our keys fit?

Those Were the Days ~ Cruisin’ ~ Part Two

After the drag racing incident Davy was given a choice, he could drive the 57 Chevy Belair, or he could walk.  Of course he choose the Chevy.  There was no way Davy was going to do any drag racing in that car.  Punching the gas pedal cost way too much money.  Besides, he loved that car and spent all of his time running around polishing imaginary smudges off of it.

I dated Davy a couple of times.  He treated the car better than he did me.  In fact, at the drive-in he told me that if I wanted popcorn or a Coke, I had to get out of the car and stay out until they were gone and I had washed my hands.

As for Suzy, her parents gave her a similar option — no more sports car.  She could drive the humongous black, Ford F-150, or she could walk.  Period.  She choose the pick up with much more glee than her parents ever expected.

Suzy had red hair, startlingly blue eyes, and porcelain fine skin.  She wasn’t classically beautiful, but she was quite striking and emitted a misleading aura of frailty.  It is quite commonplace now to see women driving large trucks, but that wasn’t the case when I was a kid and Suzy always made people turn and stare.

Driving that pick up didn’t stop her from racing, either.  She just raced other pickups instead of other sports cars.  Suzy liked to go fast.

One day the check engine light came on and Suzy told her dad the pickup needed a physical.  When he took the rig in for inspection and repair, he gave her the keys to the little Orange Capri.  He forbid her to go cruising and said if she got another speeding ticket she wasn’t to come home.  She said she understood.

We decided the best way to stay out of trouble was to head for my house.  It was a 10 minute jaunt down the freeway.  We figured we’d park the car, go in the house, watch soap operas with Caryl (my sister) and bake cookies.  We were so excited over the thought of hot, melty chocolate chips that the car was going 80 before we knew it.

Our speed registered on us about the same time as the flashing blue lights caught our attention.  Oops.  I figured Suzy would be lucky if she got to drive again before her 35th birthday.  I think Suzy thought so too, because she wrenched the steering wheel to the right and took a corner on two wheels.  She’d barely straightened the car out before she wrenched the steering wheel to the left and took the next corner on the other two wheels.

She zig-zagged up and down a half-dozen residential streets and screeched to a stop in my sister’s driveway.  I hopped out and opened the  garage door knowing good and well my brother-in-law would be a work and we could park inside.  Suzy pulled into the garage and I jerked the door down.

We both shot into the house through the back door, flung ourselves on to chairs at the table, then looked at Caryl with angelic smiles on our faces.  “We’ve been here all morning,” I said.

Caryl pointed at the cop car cruising by the front window and said, “Tell me he isn’t looking for you two.”

Suzy and I looked at each other and shrugged.  How were we supposed to know for certain why he was in the neighborhood?  But we held our breath until he was out of sight.

A few days later we were sitting at the dining room table at Suzy’s house playing Yathzee.  Suzy’s mother came in with the mail in her hand.  She walked over to the table and said to Suzy, “Give me your car keys.”  Suzy pointed at them on the piano and asked why.  Her mother pocketed the keys before answering.  “I just found a speeding ticket in the mailbox.  Since the car is registered in my name the ticket is made out to me.  There is a summons with it.  Apparently I have to go to court and answer a charge of evading a police officer.”  Suzy’s mother looked at me.  “I think it is time for you to go home now.”

I jumped out of my chair and grabbed my purse.  Suzy said, “Mom, she lives over 20 miles away.”  I was baking toward the door.  “No problem,” I said.  “I’ll figure it out.”  But Suzy’s mom had Davy take me home.  Before I left I was told not to call or return for at least 30 days.

Suzy actually got the car keys back rather quickly.  She went to court with her mother and was given 90 days community service.  She needed the keys to get to and from her work station in the dispatch office of the police department — where she heard enough 911 emergency road calls that she learned to be a much more sedate driver.

Despite her reformed ways, she still surrendered the keys to the pickup two more times.  The first time her dad took it out to get firewood and dropped a tree on it.  Suzy drove the little orange Capri while the pickup was in the auto shop being fitted for a new hood.  The second time her parents took it to help Davy move to California.  They came home in a rental car having left the pick up in a San Diego auto repair shop.  That’s when Suzy decided her dad couldn’t be trusted with the keys any more and bought the pick up from him.

All of this happened during my Senior year in high school.  The last time I was home, over 33 years later, that pickup is still parked in Suzy’s driveway.  And its still looking good.

Those Were the Days ~ Cruisin’ ~ Part One

I wasn’t allowed to go “cruising” when I was a teen — at least not as the driver. I could go if one of my friends was driving, however since the gas that fueled the cars had to come from our own pockets, we had our own brand of “cruising” which included a lot of time spent parked in the FIB parking lot.

One of my friends had access to a whole fleet of cars, some of which were really cool. There were two Chevy Belairs, a pristine 1953 model and a tricked out 1957 model. Cruising in either of them got us a lot of attention and glory, but really it was hard to enjoy the experience when we had to spend all of our time saying, “Don’t touch, don’t slam, don’t rub, don’t lean, don’t come near us because if something happens to this car it is more than our puny lives are worth!”

Suzy also had access to two 1977 Ford Capris. We preferred those cars over every other choice. Ford used to make a glorious orange paint (named Ford Orange) that was deep, rich, vibrant and almost red. That was the color of our favorite zippy little Capri. That car did a lot of drag racing.

One day Suzy was driving the orange Capri and her brother, Davy, was driving the green Capri. They decided to have a drag race. I was riding shotgun with Suzy. Yeeha! We zoomed down Front Street, shot into the JC Penney’s parking lot, did a mad spin around a huge landscaping feature (a planter 20 feet in diameter around a huge, old pine tree), back across the parking lot and around another tree in a similar planter, back across the parking lot and … flashing red and blue lights lit up the night. Busted.

So, Suzy and Davy had to go home and tell their parents that they both received very expensive speeding tickets for doing the same thing, at the same time, in the same place. Of course, both kids had to surrender their car keys until they paid their father back for the price of the tickets — and when Suzy’s keys were finally returned they weren’t to the Capri, but that’s a story for later.

Newbie Needs Help

I was just talking to a young lady who is in the market for her first car. She was feeling pretty frustrated. She said her parents have made it clear that financially she is on her own. They are paying for her college education, keeping a roof over her head, clothes on her back, and feeding her. If rides from mom and dad are no longer sufficient, she needs to provide her own alternative.

I actually applaud the parents on that stand. They are providing the necessities. Acquiring her own luxuries should be up to the daughter, however, the parents also aren’t providing her with any guidance.

While I do agree that experience is the best teacher, for optimal educational results it is always best to have a facilitator. That’s why I directed the girl to take her potential car purchase to the mechanic her dad trusts and ask him to check it out before she buys it. I also turned her on to a great place to compare, contrast, and purchase auto insurance coverage.

The end result of this is that the young lady decided she needed to save a bit more money in order to by a better quality car. She was also quite startled to discover how high insurance costs are for brand new drivers — even college honor students. She thinks she’ll be getting a summer job and walking to work everyday so that by the time the weather turns cold she’ll be able to afford a car and insurance coverage.

Houston, We Have a Problem

When I went home last week to spend some time with my family, I met up with a couple of old high school friends. Tory had just moved into his new home and was anxious to show it to me. As we moved from room-to-room I couldn’t help but notice that Tory had some interesting turtle figurines in just about every room. I asked about them and was treated to a wonderful story about Houston, Texas and a borrowed Acura TL.

Tory and his brother, along with their mother and significant others, were visiting Houston, Texas where baby sister was getting married. Tory’s mom is a wedding planner and she was quite busy with the arrangements for Alenna’s upcoming wedding, however the boys and their mates were ready to do a bit of sight-seeing. Their future brother-in-law loaned Tory and crew a cute little Acura TL for getting around.

I don’t know what sights they were seeing, but sometime during the second day of their stay the trouble light lit up the car dashboard and Tory decided the polite thing to do would be to take the car in for an oil change. Since the car bore a sticker from a prominent Houston auto-repair shop that’s where Tory called to schedule the maintenance. Happily, they weren’t too far from a shopping plaza so lunch and souvenir buying were scheduled as well.

Tory said several hours passed. They were shopped out, tired of carrying packages around, and still waiting for their car. He called the repair shop a number of times only to be told the car wasn’t ready yet. It was taking so long they suspected a local refinery must have been manufacturing the car oil especially for them. Finally the mechanic called and told them that their brake job was done. Since he’d taken the car in for an oil change, that wasn’t the announcement Tory wanted to hear.

After much arguing and kerfuffle-ing, the car received it’s oil change and that is the repair bill Tory paid. The family reclaimed their borrowed car and drove away, however they hadn’t gotten very far when one of the ladies let out a shriek and announced there was a reptile under the seat. Since Texas is known for rattlesnakes, nobody asked any questions. Tory pulled over and they all bailed from the car.

They stood alongside the road trying to decide what they should do when Tory’s SIL said she didn’t care how they got rid of the beast, she wasn’t getting back in the car with that ugly turtle.  Tory was flabbergasted.  He couldn’t believe they had bailed out of the car over a turtle.  He double checked and sure enough, there was a little turtle about the size of a tea saucer under the front passenger seat.  Tory called his future brother-in-law who denied all knowledge of a turtle in his car.  Tory called the car shop, who denied all knowledge of a turtle in the car.  Concerned that he might have someone’s illegal pet, Tory took the turtle to a pet store and was told it was an ordinary turtle, not a desert species or endangered.

So, to bring this long story to a close, Tory purchased an aquarium and supplies for the turtle.  He spent a week trying to find the turtle’s owner, and finally came to the decision to keep it.  Tory shipped the turtle and the aquarium home.  And now whenever he travels he picks up a turtle, but after the expense of that first one he’s restricted his collection to brass, glass, wood, ceramic, etc.