Lest you’re staring, confused and – after checking the year – wondering if you’ve entered some sort of internet time warp, let me disabuse you of that notion:
This is a simple, short recounting of about a rental car, something which I may do from time to time (as travel is, as breathing is to most, a natural and frequent function of my existence).
Anyway, set the scene. It is, as you might imagine given the title, 2014. I’ve been skipped around like a hot potato between airports with my intended destination – Hartford, CT – that one person everyone secretly feels sorry for and, therefore, keeps said potato away from. Wow was that belabored. Point being, I was delayed and rerouted and cast into the inferno only to wake up at the edge of midnight at La Guardia in NYC.
My usual trajectory upon hitting La Guardia, like most sane others, is to find some sort of taxi/shuttle/uber and get out of there as fast as possible with the least need of my own abilities to handle the swirling hydra of New York’s highways, bridges, and fondness for naming things multiple times.
Sadly, no shuttles went up to Hartford at this time of night, and the prices for a cab to another city two hours away were, uh, near bankrupting levels. Thus relegated to the rental world, I placed some calls and was laughed away from the usual big name suspects (National, Hertz, etc.). They were sold out, leaving me, like some scrounger forced into a dark corner with a strange, trenchcoat-wearing vagabond, hunting the nether realm for a vehicle.
That vehicle, from a rental company I can neither remember nor care to try, was a 2012 Impala. I had to take a squat shuttle to get to it, parked as it was back behind some warehouses where, I’m sure, the organ trade was flowing free.
The engine purred to life and I was reminded of a time before back-up camera, before infotainment and the beauty of the bright teal dash and big old clock-style numbers. She may have been stuck in the back of nowhere, but the Impala was ready to ride.
And we went like a deluded maniac into the highways. If you’ve ever driven with a GPS yapping at you around NYC, then you might be able to empathize with the experience of a voice rattling a seemingly endless series of names at you, none of which seem to match the actual signs you’re driving by.
Thankfully, perhaps because the Impala I was driving was clearly a rental, people gave me the benefit of the doubt as I swapped lanes the same way a day trader swaps stocks. You’d have thought I was rolling with a Lamborghini out there, the way I stopped and started, zigged, zagged, and swerved.
Somehow, perhaps with the 2012 Impala’s innate knowledge, like an experienced horse, of my own confusion, we made it out. The car and I worked in tandem, and all to the beat of local radio (I lacked an AUX cable, and the car didn’t have functioning Bluetooth audio, or at least not any I could get to work). Together, we raced randoms through the night, streaking away from those big city lights through the northern woods.
I like to think that we saved each other that night, the 2012 Impala and I. She got me out of the city, and I returned her to a nice parking lot with a view of something other than chain link fences and warehouse walls; the sports-betting pseudo casinos and scattered chain restaurants of BDL.