While Kristen and I were in California last week, we rented a car. It seemed the most practical way to see what we wanted to see and to get around. The vehicle loaned to us for the week was a Chevy Cobalt, which was a small but fairly nice car not unlike this one, except blue:
While it was somewhat lacking in power and space, it made up for it in functionality. Namely, it ran, which was our main concern. So, we were understandably concerned when it ceased running correctly. Specifically, the power steering went out in it, which is not a disaster of epic proportions, but, when driving the winding roads of Northern California, ranks above just a minor inconvenience. We were about 20 minutes from my Aunt and Uncle’s house when this happened at about 8 on a Sunday evening so we called the roadside assistance number for Enterprise. The lady who answered was polite but fairly clueless on California geography (case in point: She wanted to know which airport was closest to us, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, or Oakland, where we rented the car…this after we told her we were over an hour from Oakland…but in her defense, she was probably located in a call center in the middle of Iowa). So we opted to drive the powerless-steering car back to the house with the promise that we could exchange it at the local Enterprise place in the morning (our other option was to get a hotel and get reimbursed for it…).
We got up the next morning and called the Enterprise place, explained our predicament, and were assured we would be taken care of. We headed out and arrived at the place to see a note taped to the door stating that they would be back in 30 minutes. There was also a helpful faux-clock thing that showed us what time 30 minutes would be up, which was exactly 25 minutes from when we arrived…our timing is impeccable.
So we sat down and waited and about 20 or so minutes later, Blake from Enterprise showed up. We went through the story and he gave us the options. A pickup or a Cube. We asked to see the cars. The pickup looked like a pickup and the Cube looked like, well, a cube. Like this:
Same color and everything. After thinking about it for about 3 seconds, we figured that the Cube would get better gas mileage than the pickup and chose a car named for a shape. Given the circumstances I’d be hard pressed to second guess our decision, but man was that car crappy. The inside was huge, so large in fact, that I had trouble adjusting the rearview mirror with my seat belt on. Everything was round inside, with what looked like pond ripples surrounding everything. I don’t think that there was a straight line in the thing. It was just totally bizarre. There was only one arm rest in the front, which was conveniently located on the driver’s side. Passengers were left to fend for themselves. But the most remarkable thing about the car was the shag carpet dashboard pad. I initially thought it was something left in the car by Enterprise to set their cleaning tools on to prevent scratching of the dash, but found out later that it was attached to the dash via Velcro. But don’t get an ideas about setting something on it, since there were all kinds of warning labels advising you not to. As far as we could tell, it served no purpose whatsoever. But it looked like this:
This shows the carpet on the left in addition to a great view of another Cube from the back. Brilliant.
We drove this monstrosity around for 5 days and were stared at the whole time. I never thought I would be stared at while driving around San Francisco, but then again, I never thought I drive a shape on it’s streets. My family was definitely amused by the car and certainly enjoyed the teasing opportunities it gave…
But it worked and we survived, so other than a little embarrassment, we are no worse for the wear. Just know that my next car will be a little more traditional.
And here’s a few more pics to give you an idea of what it was really like.
Beautiful isn’t it?