Sunday, February 19, 2017

My Rental Car Road Trip, and the Little Car-Shaped Void it Left Behind

Incoming: weird, sad post about a car. You've been warned.

Yesterday, I met this little creature when I rented a car from Enterprise. It was a chance meeting, because the car I was supposed to rent was covered in mud and still needed to be cleaned. This one just happened to have been fresh from the car wash at the back of the building. It was shiny and happy and ready for adventure.

It was smaller than anything I’d ever driven, and it displayed gas consumption in pellets. We started in Muncie, idled in the Starbuck’s drive-thru in Greenfield for twenty minutes for an iced chai tea latte and only used one pellet. We went to Nashville Indiana and the Bloomington area and back on six more pellets of gas.

We saw the lights of Nashville, the live music, the dark and secret magic of Antique Alley after all the shops had closed. I looked up at the sky above me and I was happy.

Highway 46 was dark on the way home, surrounded by wooded hills. I-65 was a bright red and white ribbon of vehicles, and after seeing an accident, we decided to go back to state highways. I found myself sitting in my living room wondering if I had enough time to go for a quick drive before bedtime. Angela 5.0 and her new companion looked like old friends in the driveway.

Today, I woke up early and we went for another drive in the country. Soon, it was almost time for my little friend to go back to Enterprise. We had been on so many adventures in less than 24 hours, and I was irrationally sad about taking it back. It had been an emotional 24 hours. I had been driving this car when I stopped at Colonial Crest and got to see my apartment. I had been driving this car when I went to Brown County for the first time. I had been driving this car when I went on my first road trip by myself with no particular destination in mind and no one to visit.

So I turned in the keys and stood at the counter dead-faced and responded to all human interactions like I wasn’t sick from grief, because normal people do not get emotional about inanimate objects, but not before I took one last picture.

Goodbye, my little friend. I wanted to keep you forever. I learned a lot from you. You taught me that I really like small cars, after almost a decade of never giving one a chance. I had no trouble turning in the Focus, as nice as it was. I had no trouble turning in the Caravan either, because as much as it reminded me of my own van, because I still had my van. But you, I don’t have anything to fill the fun-sized void you left. When Angela 5.0 is paid off, I might go to Enterprise Car Sales and look for one of your friends. I will look for a silver Nissan Versa, and maybe it will be you. I’ll never know, but it doesn’t matter. Maybe you can be the replacement for the van, a tiny little creature, a baby Altima that eats gas pellets. I hope when you retire, you find your forever home. Maybe we’ll meet again on the rental lot. I’ll look for those distinctive black marks on your driver’s door. Until then, I am glad to have known you, and I will always remember you.

I really scaled this blog down to not sound crazy, but there's only so much you can to look sane when you get attached to a car. After a while, you just have to admit you're nuts.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Yeah But I Saved You a Dollah Though

For whatever reason, in my haze of sickness, I thought that it would be a grand idea to go grocery shopping. The reasoning, initially, was sound. I needed food, I had money, so made my way to Aldi. However, the timing was bad. It was awful. Everyone on earth had just gotten off work and they were all driving their wheeled hate wagons toward this very same Aldi.

Let me describe how people drive in Muncie, just so you know what I fought with for ten blocks or so: Gets in car, immediately slams foot onto gas, careens through garage into traffic, swerves to miss bus, talks on phone while putting makeup on the baby, mistakes green light for red, gets out and has physical altercation with empty pizza box while other drivers fly around them, squelches across intersection two seconds after the light turns red, cuts off other driver, honks at them. Imagine this for ten blocks. It’s great. I was lucky to make it there alive.

So I get to the Aldi parking lot and a black Dodge Charger comes screeching around the corner the wrong way and stops dead in front of me. I put my van in park with cars behind me, because this is not a two-way and there’s nowhere for me to go. They just sit there. They SIT there. Let me explain this to you, because there are a disturbing amount of people who don’t know or don’t care that there are lanes in a parking lot. If you can read the license plates and see both taillights, you’re going the right way. There are exceptions, like two way lanes, but this was not one. So eventually the car backs up and slams itself GTA style into a space, nearly running over an old man who has decided that that empty space (next to his own car) is his own private storage unit for the time being. Everyone was happy. Whatever. Fuck a walrus.

Aldi is so busy, though, that my social anxiety kicks in, which paired with flare symptoms, is awful. So I get out of there and go to Marsh, and other than having to dodge some people who think they ought to take up the entire bread aisle and talk on their phone at the same time, everything was smooth. I should have caught the foreshadowing, though, when I kept hearing this disinterested wargarbler saying “key on four” over the loudspeaker with the microphone down her esophogas. I just happen to choose the wrong checkout lane. The wargarbler was a pale, googly-eyed heroine addict who looked like she sold drugs to babies on the side. She gets to the couple in front of me and rings up ten items for the next six hours, and then she’s like “AMMAH SAAAAVE YOU DOLLAH!” and she gets on the loudspeaker like “kan eye git a keeeeeyyyy on four please” and then she stands there all slouched over until this tiny, pissed off bog creature explodes out of the office and jams a key into her register.

I left the Marsh muttering colorful language to anyone who came within ten feet of me. Things like “Get the fuck away, get the FUCK away. Don’t you fucking even look at me.” It was a good experience. Yay social anxiety.