Then she asked me if I were in Atlanta visiting family. I said no, I wasn’t. I told her that I come from a long line of white trash she should be glad that none of my relatives lived there. She laughed. We were practically besties. I didn't even need to drop my cousin Kobe's name.
Shontay completed my paperwork quickly and didn’t hector me about upgrading the insurance or adding a fuel package, premium cup holder, or designer highway flares. In just a few minutes I was in the parking garage allegedly picking out my car.
Our section of the garage—for non-Range Rover-ing descendants of white trash—was mostly empty. Actually, I had a choice of one car. And that was fine. As of last week, I’d cast off my long held belief that the way to a man’s heart was through my rental car. As long as it gets you there and back, who cares what a rental looks like?
There was one more gate and set of big metal teeth to clear—all of 100 feet away--before heading out into the cauldron of Atlanta airport traffic. Clearly Hertz does not think that less is more in the gates and big metal teeth department. The gate was up, the teeth were down. Three days of cultural tourism were on the horizon.
I headed for freedom.
And then it happened.
The gate came crashing down.
The metal teeth deployed.
An alarm went off.
And my first thought was “How did I screw this up?”
You see, I’ve a history with rental cars.
There was that time In Tempe, Arizona. I pulled out in front of someone. It was my fault. There was a pretty darned large dent in that car.
In Seattle, I scraped something in a parking lot. It was my fault. But that was nothing that some Comet Cleanser and judiciously applied dirt didn’t fix.
And that time a long time ago in England…with the broken rear view mirror? Definitely my fault.
But I was pretty sure that this time wasn't my fault.
After what seemed like a long time, but was probably only a minute, an apologetic Hertz employee not named Shontay appeared. She sent for the manager.
And it wasn’t even my fault.
In a few minutes, the manager arrived bearing more paperwork. She was effusively apologetic. She didn’t mean for the trip to start that way. She had a me sign a bunch of stuff and told me that I’d get a discount on the rental.
We moved our bags into the new car. I gave the parking lot gate the hairy eyeball before easing the car into traffic. We were on our way.