I turn and watch her laughing with her best friend. Her brown wavy hair cascades down my favorite purple and grey striped sweater she wears to get me to smile. I always like it when she laughs, but even more when she laughs with Lindsay, the blonde Mom of three and so much more. They've been inseparable since junior high and it's easy to tell. They have that kind of laughter that no matter what your mood, it forces you to laugh along.
We land in Tampa, take the shuttle to the Hertz Rent-A-Car counter, and try to get our wheels for the three day Floridian Expedition. The plan is to stay in Tampa tonight, head to the Magic Kingdom tomorrow, visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter on Saturday, and wrap up at Busch Gardens. You see we produce a Webisode series called Park Geeks. She and I co-host, her best friend runs the camera. By now the whole production is ready to go, but first... the wheels.
"I'm sorry your card is denied," says Roger, the Hertz clerk who has a nametag that says he is from Brooklyn, but his accent sounds more like African. I'm suddenly astounded by the low lighting at the Hertz counter. Budget, Enterprise, even Avis look bright and inviting. The dingy yellow sign above Roger's computer looks circa 1970. Maybe we did time travel... just in the wrong direction.
"That's odd," I say, but really thinking it's crap that my card isn't working.
He and I discuss options. To pay with cash, I have to give up 140 that I don't get back. I tell him to hold on and I'll go ask the ladies.
"That's crap," they say.
I agree with them.
We are all super tired by this point. We left Indy at 5:15, landed in Detroit for an hour layover, and having now finally reached Tampa International were ready to lay our heads down in our hotel.
"We can rent a taxi and tomorrow when our paychecks are deposited I can come back over here and rent the car," I say.
We mull it over. While mulling, I feel I should try to use my card again. They tell me to go with my feelings.
I wait in line and look back at her. She smiles with that sweater/brown flowing hair combo still going on. I can't help but smile back. No reason to freak out, I think. She's your wife and that means all is right in the world... no matter if you've gone back in time.
Roger takes my card, swipes, and we wait. Exchange awkward pleasantries about Floridian weather. Me playing the role of the disgruntled customer, Rog the role of the employee trying hard to accommodate the moron who didn't bring enough cash to play in his state.
Roger smiles, "It went through."
I smile, relieved at not being that moron.
"All we have left is the Prius," he says.
"Does it cost more," I say, once again the shrewd jetsetter.
"It's a no-charge upgrade," he says.
I nod understandingly outside, jump for joy inside. Partly, because I've always wanted to drive a hybrid, but also because if there are Prius in this version of Florida, then we haven't gone back in time and are safe in 2010.
He tells me some helpful techniques about driving the car and how it will sound like it's turned off when idle and not to freak out and try to restart it. How it has keyless ignition and how I shouldn't freak out when I don't have a key. How it may feel like a go-kart at first and how I shouldn't freak out that it is slow to accelerate.
I really must look like I'm freaking out.
I take the keys, sign off on the rental, thank Roger for helping me out and Jesus for letting the card go through the second time.
We pile in the futuristic, white car. It smells new. I love that. I stare at the console confused by the Heads up Display and the lack of keyhole. In the passenger seat, she flashes me that smile.
"It feels like we are in the future," she says, examining the dashboard.
Lindsay agrees from the backseat.
"I feel the same way," I say, pushing the power button, backing out from the parking spot, and getting our trip back on time.
Labels: Non Fiction