Baby, you can drive my car

So sue me, I’m on a Beatles kick.

Three times I went to the Hertz rental car place off of Eastern Parkway this year. And none of them were for me, but for Tyler who wanted to rent a car to drive cross country during the pandemic. He’d turned 25 and he could legally rent one.

Time No. 1: It’s early, and I’ve had to huff it to get to the place. Mr. Big Shot Rigdon tells me not to talk. He’s researched this thing. Come once before. He knows what to say. He’s got it handled. I’m just there to present my credit card so they can charge it, since they don’t take any other form of payment. We wait and wait. Ridgon’s nervous and neurotic. The Hertz guy tells him to rent the car over the app and come back on the day he plans to pick the car up. I’m standing back trying not to laugh. He tells me explicitly not to laugh. We get bagels while he neurotically calls his friend Chris in Denver, whom he’s going to pick up, Neal Cassady style. I’m not put out. It’s fine.

Time No 2: Back with my credit card, on the day of his departure, we are again, bright eyed and bushy tailed at Hertz. This time I’m in warm clothes and a beret because it’s raining. Ty has rented the car over the app so I know we’re free and clear for how much my lowly Discover card will get charged. I’ve got enough of a cushion that I can take the charge. When we arrive, there are a lot of people huddling in the parking garage. Everyone wants their car pronto. The two guys who work at the shop are inundated and being attacked by customers wondering if these guys can work any faster. Everyone is stressed. No one wants to wait. The Hertz guy takes my card and it’s declined. Turns out they charge $200 deposit over the amount of the rental just in case you fuck up the car. While my card had that amount available, there were incoming charges that prevented Discover from allowing the charge to go through. I’d called two days before and offered to pay down my card to have leeway when it came to renting the car. But they only let you pay a certain amount over what you owe at the time, and I owed something like $36. The pending charges wouldn’t hit the account so I couldn’t pay those down. Discover is a pain in the ass.

Tyler needs a moment to figure things out. And I want to let him try. His solution is to go home and find the credit card that came in the mail and sat in the trash and retry with that card. Only the car had been booked on my card and Hertz doesn’t let you switch cards last minute. I leave him in the garage to think up his plan. I make multiple calls to Hertz and Discover. Hertz takes off personal insurance to bring the total cost down. But they want to rebook the trip for another day. Discover won’t up my credit limit or give me a temporary credit limit override. So I just keep calling the two companies until I reached empathetic customer service people. And finally, between the three of us and the Hertz guy, we all figured a way for Tyler to get his car without Tyler’s input. It was a feat on my part to have the persistence and wherewithal to get that done while all the other customers at Hertz were throwing tantrums. I kept my cool. Tyler dropped me off at my place.

And then he texts me to tell me that, in retrospect, it’s a fun adventure. Of course it is, he’s about to drive across the Mississippi. He’s gotten what he wants. I’m exhausted and in need of a drink.

Time No. 3: Tyler has gone on his trip to Colorado and come back. It’s been a whole thing. He’s got calluses on his hands from the steering wheel. When he comes to pick me up this time, the car smells like weed and sweated out whisky. Good trip, I guess. Before we can turn the car in, we have to find a gas station to gas up. I love sitting in the passenger’s seat while someone else is driving us around NYC. It feels like a little perk. And I don’t have to freak out because I’m not driving.

We drop off the car. I didn’t even need to be there at all this time. But he had to get the oil changed mid trip. He tries to explain this to the Hertz guy who starts mansplaining how oil replacements work. Tyler is angry about this. Maybe he’s not used to being mansplained. But it eats at him. We take an Uber to Barbs and eat pizza, talk about all the existential things we usually talk about and then walk in the general direction of his place and my place because we’re still talking. It’s a gorgeous fall day. The leaves have turned but are still clinging to the trees for the most part. I tell him to slow down. I’m always telling him to slow down. I can walk fast. But I’m taking everything in and I want to enjoy it instead of sucking it down so fast that the beauty gets lost. He slows down.

He’s been nagging me though, about the money he put into the car for the oil change. He’s made it a point to tell me how much it costs. Over $80. And he thinks it’s a fun running gag to bring it up. I, on the other hand, find money talk vulgar. So when we part near his place, I finally consent to paying him for the damn oil change as soon as Hertz reimburses me on my card. When they do, instead of the $80, I Venmo him $79.98, and in the comments I tell him I have to get my two cents in.

If it had been anyone else, I would have found a way out of this favor real fast. But Tyler coming back feeling good about his trip meant that he was going to be better and more alive in NYC. Revitalized Tyler is much more fun than burnt out Tyler. Or even neurotic Tyler. And, while I don’t need him for my life to be ok, we enhance each others’ lives with books and movies and thoughts and ambition. So it was a bit less than pure altruism. And, unlike most guys, Tyler is graceful when it comes to appreciation, even if it is in his unvarnished Michigander way. I can appreciate the unaffected nature without feeling slighted for the lack of elegance or sophistication.

After all I was once married to a boy from Kalamazoo. I know the drill.

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