The Rental Car

It’s like Mardi Gras. Or Halloween. A costume party anyway. You get to change your identity, if only for a little while. When you rent a car you can choose what you want. Leave behind the hum drum econo-compact and get yourself a big Mercedes-Benz. Or a sporty convertible. Redefine yourself.

Nobody goes to their high school or college reunion driving a ten year old clunker. It’s amazing how well to do all of your classmates have become. The parking lot is full of Mercedes, Jaguars, Cadillacs, Lexus. You name it and it’s there. Except for junkers. Guaranteed some of them are rentals. No one wants to look like they can’t afford a nice car.

I had never rented a car before, but on a recent trip I decided that the easiest way to get from point A to point B, and all things in between, was to rent a car and drive myself. It gives you a lot more freedom than a city bus.

I had called in advance and made a reservation for an economy car. This trip was costing me a lot and I was trying to save a few bucks. When I showed up at the rental agency the dude behind the counter smiled and said, “are you sure you wouldn’t rather have the Jeep?” By that he meant a four wheel drive, four door Jeep Sahara, 2016, with a removable hard top. That would be pretty cool to drive around in on this tropical island. Hmmmm?

Then he added that it would only cost twenty extra dollars. I’ll stick with the boring econobox. It does its job. He must have had a quota to fill for renting Jeeps because the next thing he said was, “how about if I give it to you for the same price?” That’s different.

I didn’t need it, but I did think it would look cool and be more fun. Not that I needed the four wheel drive, or would use the removable hard top. It would just look cool. So I got it. A new me.

As I drove around I began to notice that there were an awful lot of vehicles that looked just like this one on the road. Exactly like this one. Maybe that’s all they rent here! No, because I saw a lady walk up to two silver Mustang convertibles parked side by side and she had a hard time figuring out which was hers. A rental.

While I was walking down the street I noticed a young couple taking pictures of themselves sitting in a convertible Mercedes. Brand new. They were certainly enjoying themselves. As I looked at them it seemed to me that they couldn’t afford to buy that car if they sold all four of their grandmothers, and a couple of grandfathers too. Hold the hate mail, I know I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But it was a rental. They were living a big life on vacation from wherever.

My dad used to travel a lot with his job when I was young. The company always gave him a rental car. His personal car was a station wagon, but the rental was always a Plymouth Fury. A police car in it’s day. It was always very exciting to see him pull up into the driveway in that monster. It wasn’t him, but it gave him a big time executive look. A man of importance.

If you need a cheap vacation, or a quick change of identity, go rent a car. Something you wouldn’t normally drive. Who would you be?

That’s part of my story. What’s yours? www.personalhistorywriter.com

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