DAWN SUMMERS SOCCER MOM
In preparation for my trip out West, I spent all of last week uploading pretty much every CD I own to my ipod (which I affectionately call “poddy”). Since I was renting a car and would be driving all around a place where I didn’t know any radio stations, I wanted to make sure I’d have musical entertainment for my plane and car journeys. The night before I left, I went to Tower Records and picked up one of the Maxell tape deck converters so I could play Poddy in the car and I charged her to the max, so she’d last the whole plane ride.
Poddy worked like a charm on the place. Without fumbling around my carryon for unlabelled mix CDs until I found the one I wanted, I just played my “recently added” playlist. I lip synched and chair danced for two hours before the movie and two hours after. My seat neighbor may have been slightly frightened, but I had a blast.
When I reached the Hertz agency — which if you’ve ever rented a car at the San Francisco airport, you know is about a 30 minute commute for the terminal, by foot and monorail — I checked in to make sure my secretary had reserved a car for me.
“Yes, Ms. Summers. We have you down for a mid-size vehicle.”
“Would you like to upgrade?”
“Is it free?”
“Well, your company has a special rate, but for a full-size or SUV it would be a little more.”
“No thanks. I just need a car with a tape deck.”
“Well, ma’am, most of our cars actually have CD players now.”
“Umm…but I need a car with a tape. So, just give me one of the ones with a tape deck.”
“Well, we have CD players.”
“Yes, I know. But do you have any with tape players?”
By now, having exceeded the allotted time for handling a car rental, we had attracted the attention of the rental agency manager.
“Is there anything I can help you with?”
“Well, I just need a car with a tape deck, not a CD player.”
“Oh, did you only bring tapes with you?”
“No…I have an ipod and the only adapter is a tape based one.”
“James, can you call downstairs and see if they can locate a car with a tape deck.”
Through the telephone receiver, I could hear a gruff voice say something to the effect that to his knowledge none of his staff were from the planet Krypton and without the benefit of X-ray vision there was no way for him to tell which cars had a tape player.
James slowly hung up the phone and flashed a nervous smile to his supervisor.
“Ma’am, we have many new cars. They are all 2005 models.”
“Yes, I’m sure, but I will rent the 1995 model if it means I get a tape player. Basically, I want a tape player, ideally there would be a car around it — but playing my ipod is the most important thing.”
His supervisor suggested that he check the features guide for larger cars to see if maybe they had both.
“How about the Outback?”
After tapping the keyboard for a few minutes, he looked up:
“Well, it doesn’t say it doesn’t have a tape player.”
“What does that mean?”
“Ummm….well, it could have a tape player.”
Yes, I’m sure and it could fly, but how about we find out.
Evidently, using her powers of telepathy, his supervisor jumped in before I uttered a word.
“James, call down and see if they can send someone to check the car.”
Five minutes later the call came back from downstairs.
“I’m sorry, ma’am.”
“We’re really sorry about this, but we’ll give you the Outback for no extra charge, how about that?”
Now, understand, when I said “Fine” I expected the “Outback” to be some kind of four wheel drive, bright red SUV-type vehicle — however, when I got down to the parking lot and triple-checked to make sure this was really lot 233 — I was staring at nothing less than your American nightmare.
Parked in lot 233 was an oversized beige station wagon, large enough for a family of 8. Where the trunk should be was a third back seat that had to be pushed down to make room for — I don’t know, groceries and little Timmy’s baseball equipment.
Of course, after having already spent forty minutes renting the damn thing, there was no way I was going back upstairs to trade it in.
I climbed into the driver’s seat, adjusted the seat, started the engine and left all remnants of my hip young self in the rental agency parking.
Hopefully, I can pick it up when I return the car.
Now, what the hell do middle aged women listed to? On the radio.