I am driving my father-in-law Sheldon’s car. Not his actual car as he passed away a few years back and no longer drives, but the car that he would be driving if he were alive.
This is a rental because I get to drive all over rural America for my work this month, and each time I do I rent. It ends up being cheaper and I don’t have the wear on my car. This time I have a 2012 Chrysler Altima 300 Luxury Series sedan – the car that practically drives itself.
I got the super premium upgrade because last week when I had to drive 2 1/2 hours (each way) with my current project team and I needed a mini van, which I dutifully ordered 10 days ahead of time. Which Enterprise called me on my cell phone the day before to confirm that I still needed it. Which was not ready and waiting for me when I arrived to pick it up.
The guy tried to hand me the keys to a 15 passenger panel van instead of the tricked out minivan with the captains seats for all the comfort of those I was toting around. Being short of temper I snapped at him that this was not an Orthodox Family Outing, I was driving senior executives and I expected the minivan I ordered.
So they offered me a van that was at another dealership and what choice did I have I let the guy drive me to the dealership 10 minutes away. I had one hour to get the car, go home and put my suit on and gather my files & briefcase. This whole transaction usually takes 10 minutes because the rental place is so close to my house. So off we go to the other rental place 10 minutes away. Except the rental boss calls the guy while he is driving me and says that place no longer has a van so now we have to go and additional 10 minutes. So now I am 30 minutes into my hour with no hope of being on time. Still trying to roll with it, make some calls and tell people I have a problem, and tell the kid to call ahead and make sure this van is ready to drive away the minute we get there.
Then he gets lost.
Because you see he’s never been to this location in the middle of East Nowhere so we get on and off the highway a couple times before he actually finds it. And there it is. The most piece of shit van I have ever seen at a rental place. It rattles. It makes clicking noises. And it smells like candy-coated smoke. I turn it on and the Change Oil light comes on. No kidding. And it has pickup like I’m dragging a U-Haul. But I am stuck so I off I go to run the red light camera gauntlet back to my house, pickup my team and drive for five hours in the nasty van.
So today I was treated to the super upgrade as consolation for the Van Incident.
This Altima is some kinda thang. Its like that Knight Rider car from the ’80s but better. Its got leather everything and is silent as the grave with the windows up. The windows open and close themselves because holding that button the whole time to make the window go up is clearly taxing. The lights and wipers “sense” when they need to come on, the cup holder keeps your beverage hot or cold, it has voice command for using your phone, changing the radio station, picking songs on your ipod, all controlled by a touch screen as big as an ATM in the center of the dash.
I could go on but there are too many features. You can see the crazy luxury at Chrysler if you like.
The reason this car made me think of my father-in-law Sheldon is because he was a man who could really appreciate both luxury and laziness. He would have loved this car. He would have pre-ordered this car last September and gleefully listed its qualities and features to anyone who would listen. Of course its really safe too. You need a lot of air bags to protect people who no longer know how to turn their wipers on.
The thing I covet from the car, other than the 100% silence and feeling like I am in the Mafia with the tinted windows, is the Satellite radio. If I was filthy rich and could buy whatever I wanted, I would pay for Satellite and have 150+ stations to choose from. I always liked the radio best. Punching the buttons, hearing the DJ’s, stumbling on something you forgot or never knew. On my drive I heard Wet Willie, Dan Hicks and Boz Scaggs mixed in with De La Soul, AC/DC and Pittbull. And I thought about Sheldon.
Sheldon was a hoot. I miss him. And I liked driving his car.