My heart soared as we taxied from the end of the runway to our gate at LAX. The car parks were filled with trucks. Glorious, glorious pick up trucks. New ones, old ones, huge ones and shiny ones. I had not felt any giddy thrill of excitement in the lead up to my maiden voyage to America but as we taxied along the tarmac I was overcome with joy. Here I was in the birthplace of the cars I love.
I am not a people person. During the 13 hours flight surrounded by hundreds of farting, sneezing, snoring souls I managed to squeeze in naps totalling almost 60 minutes of rest. Amazingly I did this without murdering the spawn of Satan in the seat behind me who insisted on constantly kicking the back of my chair or the entitled woman in front of me who reclined her seat as far as possible into my lap at the first available opportunity sending my meal flying. So by the time the US government wished to process me through customs my people skills were reduced to the bare essentials. Regardless they let me into the country and onto the Avis shuttle bus that took me to the lot for my pre booked ride.
When planning a road trip for 4 weeks across America with a girlfriend I had two options. Buy a car and sell it at the other end or rent one. For a $2,000 budget the car I could buy was basic. Such a car was not likely to be reliable, heated, comfortable, economical, packed with safety features or hassle free. So I chose to rent a car purely for the stress free simplicity. I wanted to spend my trip seeing America and enjoying the road not dealing with drama from beside the road.
Through Qantas I booked a car that seemed practical, comfortable over long distances and warm. As a north Queenslander in America in December I wanted my first ever sighting of snow to be from heated seats.
The Avis shuttle bus drove us through a cornucopia of legendary American cars. Ford Mustangs, Chevy Camaros, Dodge Challengers and plenty more. I was starting to regret my sensible choice of a Lincoln sedan. The website I booked the Lincoln on promised a sleek dark grey all wheel drive sedan. Heated seats, heated steering wheel and remote start so I could fire the engine and commence the heating from inside the toasty warm cafe where I sat with my hot beverage.
The lady at the Avis desk did not seem to be happy to be at work and my people skills were running on the smell of an oily rag so I failed to appreciate her helpfulness when she doubled the price of the car by adding insurance. In Australia I never get insurance on hire cars but here I was in a strange country with one hour of sleep, sitting on the wrong side of the car and driving in the wrong direction so I figured accidents where I was at fault had a high chance of happening.
I took the keys and my viciously raped credit card and headed out to bay S18. Sleek dark grey sedans were not in sight. I opened the door on a dark red "wanna be" SUV. I consoled myself that the extra ground clearance was a good thing as I looked with sad eyes at the dark grey Camaro parked next to me.
Now I had never been in a Lincoln before so I called over the very friendly guy wandering around the yard for instructions. One of the joys of being a woman is the ability to ask questions and never feel a fool. During his hilarious lecture on American politics he showed me features of the car that proved to be invaluable. This allowed me to exit the lot and head straight out onto the freeway.
Avis should put a sticker on their cars to let folk know an international tourist with minimal sleep, zero people skills and no idea has just entered the battlefield. I am loose on the roads. You have been warned.