Monday, October 17, 2016

In Which I get a Little Upgrade

By the time I met Luis, I was feeling pretty cranky.

Luis, age approximately 25, hairstyle man bun, sat behind the Avis counter at Boston Logan airport. It was Sunday, late afternoon--yesterday, though it seems longer ago than that. I'd had four hours' sleep between the end of the pathetic Notre Dame/Stanford football game and getting up to drive to Midway airport, and I didn't use them well. Then I flew to Detroit, said goodbye to my darling daughter much faster than I'd planned (I'd already said goodbye to darling husband and darling son). Then, inexplicably, I forgot to eat lunch, so that by the time I landed in Boston, retrieved my luggage, navigated the complex overcrowded shuttle to the rental station and encountered Luis, I  was in a crummy mood.

"We got you down for a mid-size," Luis said. "You want something bigger than that?"

I said,"No."

Luis said, "You wanna drive a Mustang?"


"You wanna drive an SUV?"


Luis sighed. "You WANNA drive a Toyota Corolla?"

"Look," I said. "I'm going to be driving in Boston. Last time I was driving here it didn't go well. I want something as small as possible." (Though the instant I said that, I realized I last drove in Boston thirty years ago, when I didn't have glasses, depth perception, a map, or a GPS. And I was driving a full-size van. So maybe things are different now.)

Luis got on the phone with someone and discussed cars for a few minutes. He said things like, "Nah, man, that's what she wants," and then he hung up and said to me, "They're trying to find you a Corolla.  He's gonna call me back." Then he said, "You want the insurance coverage?"


"You want to prepay for gas?"


"You want to rent a GPS?"

"No." (I'd brought one with me.)

Luis fiddled with his phone. I fiddled with mine. Minutes passed. I said, "Look, this is ridiculous. Do you have a car for me or not? I never had to wait for a car before. And I know all that made me sound like a princess, but I'm hungry."

Luis said, "Why don't you just take the Mustang?"

I said, "Isn't that some kind of fancy sports car? The last thing I need is to drive a shift."

"No, no," Luis said. "It's fully automatic. It's just a little upgrade. For free."

"Okay," I said.

"What color you want?"

Was he kidding me? "Luis, I don't care."

I schlepped my bags out to the lot and there it was, a shiny, unbelievably flashy, cherry-red sports car.  Mine. I started to laugh. Never in life have I driven such a thing. I drove it up to the checkout guy, squealing the brakes just a little.

"Man," the guy said, "the only thing better than a lovely young woman such as yourself driving a lovely car like this one is if you were going to take it to the beach."

"I AM going to take it to the beach," I said. "On Tuesday. I'm driving to the beach with my friend, and she's a nun."

"Nuns on the beach!" The man said.

I peeled out of the lot and wheedled my way through downtown Boston. The previous occupant of the car had left the radio set on the classical music channel, so I lowered the windows, cranked the volume, and blared Handel's Water Music so loud it made the windshield vibrate. And it was fine.