The line at Hertz was impossibly long and I was in a hurry. Not that I had anywhere I really needed to be at that moment but standing in line at a car rental place in Newark was not my idea of fun getaway. They offered me water and a map as a consolation. They should have offered me a car and a fine fellow to carry my bag.
Hours later I stepped up to the counter.
"That's a fine rate you found, congratulations".
No congratulations necessary, just a signature in exchange for keys and I would happily be on my way and out of this particular congestion.
"Let's see what we have, hmmm, yes, here we are, a super duper fast thingy ma car with wheels and a roof and power windows, would you like that?"
"That will be fine", and it was, for a $20.00 per day upgrade fee. This poor man had no idea who was peering at him from the other side of the counter. My specific request, with regard to a car, is that it actually moves, has windows and doors, and doesn't smell too bad. Beyond that I don't really care. I assured him that my original car would be fine, if he would just kindly hand me the keys I would be happily on my way. I'd had hours to study my free map, I was prepared.
"But this one has so much more room, plenty of space for your luggage". I looked behind me, and then down at my small green duffel bag, "you understand there is only me, right?".
He went back to his computer, and not satisfied with what he saw, moved over to another computer, forcing someone else to wait while he searched, presumably the same data base, for the perfect car for me and my one bag.
"Aha! Just what you need, and only $10.00 more per day!"
The car I drive now is almost ten years old. It has scrapes, bumps and bashes on all sides. Engraved on the passenger door, in very primitive four year old handwriting, is the word "KATE", left there by a rock and a creative child. It makes odd noises and has lights that flash unexpectedly, warning me to check the engine and to please, for the love of God, pull over and stop driving, in the interest of safety. It also has four wheels, two car seats, a number of windows and heat; it suits me perfectly.
I shook my head, no thank you. "But miss, this one is much more comfortable, it has tons of legroom". I rose to my tippy toes and stretched all of my almost five foot two frame above the counter, "thank you but legroom is not really an issue for me. Can you find me a car with wheels?".
Defeated he handed me a set of keys and directed me to the door marked "No Upgrade". Row after row of small cars, the ones they keep all to themselves as renting one is unthinkable, lined up neatly just waiting for the fools not interested in headlights, cup holders, and power windows. The legroom less car in my spot was red and had Texas license plates, my obvious penance for not wanting more out of a three day car relationship.