No YOU Shut Up And Drive
Janis Hirsch illustration

Fun Car Rentals: The One Day Rental Remedy

I want to be a bus driver. Not every day but you know, one Tuesday a month.

By Janis Hirsch

Just Call Me Ralph Kramden

Ever since I was a (weird) kid, I’ve been in love with the fact that city buses have those big steering wheels that are parallel to the floor and stand-alone driver seats that look like what deep sea fisherman sit on. I want to yank that throttle-thing that opens the door with a whoosh and I want to take my turns as wide as I damn please knowing everyone with a brain in their head’ll get out of my way. Oh and I’d definitely wait for anyone running for the bus.

I wish I could rent one. I mean, in Vegas a company called Dig This offers a chance to drive Excavators and Bulldozers which also sounds unbelievably fun, so why not Schelp This, a company that lets you sub for an actual bus driver? I’d be very conscientious about hitting all my stops. Well, hitting probably isn’t the right word, but you know what I mean.

I’m Ready To Have A Car Affair

Because the fact is, spending some quality time driving anything different is a surprisingly joyous experience. Unless you’re renting a car at the airport, where no matter how many special rental car clubs you belong to, the shuttle still drops you off last, your car still smells like smoke and feet, and the radio is still preset to Heavy Metal and Sports in Spanish.

I rented a completely comfy Ford Focus at McCoy International Airport in Orlando last month. I am a reasonably bright woman and know more than a little (but less than a lot) about cars. I tried for 3 days to find NPR on the radio. Or anything besides head-banging and a Mexican soccer match between Pachuca and the Tigres. No, wait, that’s not fair to my Focus: I did find a talk show that was, I swear on a stack of Mint Milanos, an AM call-in about plumbing where the answer to every mind-numbing questions was: “Leave us your number and we’ll come out on Monday and take a look.”

Who’s The Birthday Boy Now?

When my son was 4, we starting renting cars to celebrate his Half Birthday. Don’t judge; he’s away at college and I’m a little fragile. Anyway, we’d go to our local Budget and spend a good 2 hours letting him wander the lot, which is not nearly as fascinating as it sounds but he was happy and not asking for king-sized bed or a little brother, so there was that.

Our first rental was that newly designed VW Beetle and it was a blast to drive. Yes, there was something about the windshield curve and my (lack of) height that made me a wee bit carsick but what’s a little barfing when you’re tooling around in something spiffy?

After that, I looked forward to his half birthdays the way he looked forward to, well, his half birthdays. The year we rented a Hummer? So fun. Not for everyday. Not for any other day than that: it was like driving a house only bigger. And do not rent one if you have any pride or modesty because getting me into it was like getting an elephant on a circus train.

Get Outta My Way!

I took my boy Charlie and the Hummer out on an errand where I had to park in a lot. Across three spaces. On the way out, we stopped to chat with Andre, the attendant in the booth, and yes, I am on a first name basis with that nice man in the booth. He admired the car, I laughed about the enormity of it and off we went.

I looked in the rear view mirror and noticed Andre doing the Home Alone face and asked my son what was wrong. Charlie: “That yellow and black parking gate arm was still down and you tore it right out of the wall.” And I didn’t even know it or feel it. Which is why my Hummer days are behind me.

To The Airport Ma’am

Have you ever driven a Lincoln Town Car? Oh. My. God. It’s like driving a La-Z-Boy lounger. I once read that Steve Lawrence and Edyie Gorme had a Town Car – again, I say “Don’t Judge” – and after that, they were my favorite people in the world.

The Plymouth Prowler? Hi-larious and I mean that in the best possible way. It was so low and loud and everybody stared, although that could’ve been because I wanted to drive it with a headscarf like Audrey Hepburn in that convertible but all I had was a Totes rain scarf and that kept slipping down my face. I looked like the Frito Bandito. And while I could get into the Prowler by basically just falling backwards, getting out was another story. If I’m ever sentenced to prison, just put me in a Prowler. It’s a lot cheaper and I can’t escape from that either.

So Many Half Birthdays – So Many Cars

And do not start me on the Chevy SSR, which was a convertible pick-up truck with a Corvette engine. I was grinning so hard while driving that I was picking bugs out of my teeth for a week.

There was the BMW 745 Li which was so much more beautiful than I could ever be: I felt like Barbra Streisand in “The Way We Were” when she first saw Hubbell Gardner in all his goyisha splendor.

And keeping with the movie theme, Prius and I “met cute” when we rented one once. Charlie was bummed because it didn’t make any of those window-rattling car noises. I was going to say something smug about the difference in what I pay at the pump in my Prius and what he pays in his loud German car but then I remembered that I pay his bills too. Joke’s on me.

Get Thee To A Rental Agency

I highly recommend my patented One Day Rental Remedy. It doesn’t have to be a Porsche or a Ferrari… unless you want it to be. Just the act of driving the latest model anything cures pretty much whatever ails you. Come on, it’s impossible to be in a bad mood when you’re in a cool car that you don’t have to make payments on. Even the neighbors with that scary dog who never waves “hi” back will stop and talk to you. Parking attendants will nod admiringly, as long as you don’t take out their gate’s arm.

The best part? Reuniting with your old reliable car after 24 hours away from it. Yes, I know, Cinderella was in a foul mood when she turned back into a one-shoed charwoman but when you give back your rental coach and get behind the wheel of your pumpkin, you’ll have had the best of both worlds: you got to go to the ball with the handsome prince, and you don’t have to fight him for the mirror and the hair products in the morning.

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One Response to “Fun Car Rentals: The One Day Rental Remedy”

  1. D.G. Fulford says:

    Love laughing while driving….or reading about it !

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