September 27, 2012

multitasking while driving is bad

Yesterday, I flew into South Carolina, rented and car, and prepared for a 2 hour drive for a work meeting. I've done a fair amount of car renting and driving for work before, so I wasn't too worried.

It started when I got to the counter, and the guy couldn't find my reservation. "No problem," he finally said, after staring at his computer for a while. "We have a car for you. It's a toyota yaris. I only have SUVs and minivans otherwise, which I can't offer you, since you're under 25."

Its just me and my carry-on suitcase, so as long as the car has a trunk, I'm good. About 5 minutes into driving, I realize something annoying. This car has no cruise control and only one weird hidden cup holder. Oh well. 6 minutes in, I realized something even more annoying. The inside of this particular toyota yaris looks like this:

photo by

So yes, that means that the speedometer is in a dark, recessed area to the right of the steering wheel.  I'll just get used to glancing over to my right to see the speedometer, I can handle this.

Funny story about my eyes. My left eye is fantastic. It can do backflips and whatever in low light and peripheral vision. My right eye functions like dial up internet against cable--it's slow and can really only see what's directly in front of it.

This means that as I get on the highway and start driving a little bit more quickly, I quickly realize this will be non-functional. In order to check my speed, I have to turn my whole head, decipher the dark and incoherent speedometer, and then look back at the road. By the time I've figured out how fast I'm going, I've already blown through a red light, swerved across 3 lanes, and narrowly avoided a telephone pole. (perhaps I exaggerate.)

Realizing this was not an option, I used my handy GPS to find a nearby Enterprise rent-a-car, which I hoped would have more small cars, since the guy at the airport had told me they did not. Two enterprises without small cars later, I'm told to go back to the airport.

"But they said they can't give me an SUV."
"They should be able to."
"Are you sure they have a car for me?"
"Yes, I told him you were under 25."

Great. Back to the airport (I'm about 15 minutes away). I walk in. "I'm afraid I'm going to get into an accident. Do you have a car with a speedometer behind the steering wheel?"

The same Enterprise man who talked to me the first time says, "I don't know what to tell you. I don't have anything else I can give you."

At this point I was tired, in fear of my imminent car crash or ticket at the hands of South Carolina police, and feeling betrayed, since the other enterprise man said they DID have a car for me at the airport.

"But, the other guy said--"
"I don't know what you're talking about."

Then hero enterprise rent-a-car man showed up. He was apparently more versed in reading the "I'm about to cry in frustration and I'm really sorry that I can't drive this stupid car this is both embarrassing and concerning but I could really use another car" face I was making.

"We can have them pull up a Chrysler. No problem. I'll just update your paperwork."


There had been another car there the whole time?!

So I drove 2 hours, and today am driving 2 hours back, in a perfectly regular car with a speedometer in a regular place, cruise control, and cup holders. Thanks, hero enterprise man.

1 comment:

April said...

lol - I'm showing Brian this post. :D

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