You may have noticed I've been M.I.A. for a while on jessandjacy.blogspot.com. I'm sure you don't give two beehives where I've been, but I'm going to tell you anyway: I've been on Jessica's Midwest Travel Tour (coming to a city near you). In the past week and two days, I've made my way to Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas and am currently in Oklahoma. And I am exhausted. I'm pretty sure if I closed my eyes right now, I could sleep for weeks. But I'm not going to do that. "Just keep running," as my nephew would say.
The thing I've learned most over the past few days is that I could never, ever be like George Clooney's character in Up In The Air. I've seen that movie a few times and thought I could relate to him. I absolutely love staying in hotels, so I thought he had the best life ever. I mean, come on, maid service 24-7? I'd never have to pick up after myself again. However, the actual travel part blows with a capital B.
After traveling through DFW, MCI, OMA and OKC in a matter of days, I cannot STAND airports. I hate the stink. I hate the people. I hate security. I hate feeling all sticky/sweaty/greasy after spending all of 12 minutes in an airport. I hate the 13-year-old zits I have acquired since spending 12 minutes in the airport. I hate shuttles. I hate parking. But most of all, I HATE RENTAL CARS.
Case-in-point: A situation like today's. Traveling went fine. (Well, minus the part where I went to Starbucks in the terminal to get an iced green tea UNSWEETENED and they gave me a damn SWEETENED green tea. disgusting. Also, why do they call terminals terminals? That's a very scary thought. Terminal diseases are very scary. I'm probably going to Google that.) But things were not so super when my travel group loaded up in our rental: A brand new Toyota Prius. The car looked great. It had great features, a great hatchback.
However, the actual driving part wasn't so great. In fact, it never happened. We piled into the vehicle, only to find out none of us knew how to reverse the damn thing out of its parking spot. I drive a small boat around Dallas, so I know nothing of this thing called "fuel efficiency." But evidently Priuses (or Prii?) are fuel efficient. After scouting out my first one today, I've decided they're driving inefficient. Any car that quiet can't be trusted.
We pulled out the car's manual, trying to find a solution. Then I whipped out my smartphone to Google "how to reverse a prius out of a parking stall." But no avail. So, we all exited the vehicle and made our way back to the Heartz desk to ask for a different Toyota model.
This isn't my first bad encounter with rental cars though. In fact, my first experience driving a rental car made me swear off ever driving one again. A couple of Aprils ago, while I was on my first NCAA National Gymnastics trip to Stanford, I had an epic rental car FAIL.
I had made my way with the gymnastics team to Stanford's gymnasium for practice. I could have just stayed at the hotel, but decided to check out practice instead. Not to be unprofessional here, but what 20-year-old girl wouldn't want to sit in the stands and watch boys with no shirts on do extremely flexible and strong gymnastics moves? Hot. Mid-way through my gymnastics trance, one of the coaches threw me a set of car keys and asked if I would drive back to the hotel to print off the event sheets. Since I was being a worthless and somewhat perverted pile, I agreed to the task.
I had only driven a minivan one other time in my life. And I'd never driven a rental van period. Nor had I ever driven in Palo Alto, California. NOR did I have any inkling on how to get back to the hotel. But I was trying to be that cool chick who knew how to drive and navigate, so I accepted the task blindly. I probably should have turned back and made one of the assistant coaches go to the hotel after I had driven three miles in the wrong direction. But instead I stopped at a gas station and asked directions to the hotel and found my way in great shape.
However, this is the part that gets hairy. Parking. I've never been a great parker at all. Once I backed into a car in a highly populated area after a Kenny Chesney concert and drove away. And I can't count the number of times I've hit lightpoles with my rear bumper. But this time was different. This time, I decided to try my hand at parking in an underground parking lot beneath the hotel. All was going well...no cars to speak of in the parking lot, so I thought I was home free.....
UNTIL I SIDE-SWIPED A FREAKING POLE WITH THE RENTAL VAN! And it wasn't a little tiny side-swipe. I'm talking a huge, drunk-kid-crashed-his-car-into-a-telephone-pole side-swipe. I heard the pole hit the car (because the car didn't hit the pole... that would make me a bad driver...that pole came out of NOWHERE!) so I backed the car up, only to hear the pole hit the car again. By this time, I had picked up my cell phone and called the only person I could think of... my pops. HE would know what to do! Dad normally wouldn't answer the phone in the middle of the afternoon, but he was in for his half-hour break to watch Judge Judy. I could sense his anger when he answered the phone. Our convo went something like this...
"Dadddddyyyy, what are you doingggg," me asking my father what he was up to, while I was sobbing my eyes out.
"I'm watching Judge Judy, why?" My dad sounding very pissed off here because I was bugging him.
"I, I, I need your help (insert sniffing and sobbing here)" - Me
"Jessica, is everything okay," Dad paused the Judge and sounded very concerned.
"Well...I hit a pole hit my carrrrrr (sobbing and whining here)," -Me
"You DID WHAT?! Where are you?"-Dad
"I'm in Palo Alto," - Me
"Is that close to Lincoln," -Dad
"I dunno...California's quite a ways from Nebraska...." - Me
"Oh J*s*s C*r*st, Jess, what do you want me to do about it? How bad is it? You pulled me away from Judge Judy for this?!!?!?!" -Dad irritated at me.
After a nice long convo with my dad, he decided that I needed to own up to my mishap. So I summoned the courage to sheepishly tell the coaches what I had done. I found my way back to the gymnasium (and yes, I did manage to print off the sheets they had asked for) and walked my tear-stained face in to explain the situation. While two of the coaches laughed their asses off, the third was not to quick to smile. Evidently, the van was under his name instead of the University's name (like the other two rental cars). Sooo, any damage done to the van was on HIS insurance instead of the University's policy. Go figure.
All worked out okay. Luckily, Cali is full of autobody shops, so the coach sweet talked some guy into helping him pop out the dent and repaint the scrapes. The rental car company never knew. I got grief from all 14 gymnasts and a handful of coaches and trainers, but I lived to tell the tale.
On that note, I'm going to bed. I say goodbye to Stillwater tomorrow and head back to Dallas in the morning. Goodnight all!