Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Why I Deserve a Sports Car
I was in Florida this past week for work. Orlando to be exact. The home of the East Coast Disney dynasty. A place populated by small children running amok with fake mouse ears and funny hats. A place where you don't look twice at grown people sporting t-shirts, shorts and even shoes with drawings of crickets in top hats emblazoned upon them. The point is that the place is a tourist trap and I think I got a little bit taken.
See this red mustang convertible that I am sitting in? This was my rental car. I asked for a teeny weeny compact in the way of a Le Car or a ford fiesta. I'm what you'd call a compact kind of girl, after all. My Ford Focus hatchback or "The Go-Cart" as it is affectionately called has served me well and I have never needed more. But then they ran out of small cars at Payless Rental Cars. At least that was what they said when I went out to the parking spot where my compact was supposed to be and found a 15 passenger van with my name all over it. So they offered me a sweet upgrade...for an additional $40, I could drive away for a week in a convertible. Of COURSE I took it. And that was when I realized that I am much more of a red convertible kind of girl than I thought. OHHHHHHHHHH, the wind through my hair. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, the immigrant daylaborer catcalls. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh, the bass bumping orlando radio stations. It was delicious.
I was riding high in all my coolness for approximately 2 minutes before I figured out that having a cool car does not in anyway guarantee BEING cool. I cooly drove up to the toll gate on Florida state road 353(at least I think that's the name they were calling it the moment...florida roads have at least 3 different monikers that are changed at will). There were two lanes to choose from, one that said "receipts, change" and another that said, "exact change only". I had a crisp one dollar bill which I knew would amply cover the .75 charge. And in all my devil-may-care coolness, I decided to gift the Florida State Dept of Transportation with the additional .25 from my dollar. I pictured myself chucking the dollar at the machine and cooly saying "keep the change" as I sped away. As I moved into the "exact change only" line, I realized, with horror my mistake.
If you've ever taken a toll road, you know that they have a basket into which you chuck your exact change. Some magical gnome in the bottom of the basket counts your money and then signals the bar to lift and voila! you are released onto the highway of said DOT. The gnomes DO NOT EXCEPT DOLLAR BILLS. EVER. NOT EVEN A LITTLE BIT. And thus began the process of sweat and panic. Panic and sweat. How would I get out of this one? Oh, that's easy. BY GETTING OUT OF MY COOL CAR IN THE MIDDLE OF A CROWDED TOLL CENTER WAIVING A DOLLAR BILL IN THE AIR AND SCREAMING FRANTICALLY AT THE CARS BEHIND ME "Do you have change for a dollar???????!!!!" yeah. They didn't have change or if they did, they certainly weren't about to hand it over to the likes of me. Finally after looking desperate for what felt like an hour, the car behind me pointed to the toll booth operator 3 lanes of traffic over. I began my mad dash to the toll operator who obviously couldn't deal with me. I pounded on her window and finally she waved me away telling me just to go. GO! So I bounded over the 3 lanes of traffic, back to my idling car and sat with sweaty palms until the bar lifted and I was free to go. Another silly tourist in a rental sports car stealing money from the man. In a final fit of angst, I threw my dollar in the basket anyway as if to prove that I wasn't trying to get away scott free. I'm sure my bout of integrity was praised mightly by the 40000000 cars who got stuck after I jammed the machine with my honesty dollar.
Now. Am I or am I NOT a girl who deserves, nay NEEDS a sports car???