My car is getting on in years.
Its skin has faded splotches of color; it has a strange assortment of creaks and grunts; and it doesn’t have the get up and go it had. (Ironically, it’s an allegory for me.) I’d like to purchase a shiny new one, but despite all the improvement in auto technology, they have still not come up with a way to remove car payments. Should they do so, I’d be so johnny-on-the-spot at the dealership, you’d think I drove a Bentley Continental GT Speed with 616 horsepower to get there.
Putting aside such fantasies, and since I drive to many of my engagements, and am leery of using my auto, I rent. I don’t need anything fancy; if it has cruise control, I’m good to go.
Upon arriving to pick up my car for this trip, the attendant informed me that I received a free upgrade.
“Would you like the luxury car or the sporty car?”
With 12 hours of driving ahead of me over the next two days, a luxury car would be nice. However, the increased cost in gasoline — as well as my inner teen — veered me to a tricked-out, metallic-charcoal-grey 2014 Mustang. Said inner teen was revving higher than the tachometer as I pulled off the lot.
As mentioned, my only real requirement is cruise control.
It saves wear and tear on my lower body, and by setting it for the speed limit, saves wear and tear on my wallet. This way, I don’t have to worry about speeding tickets, which I have not had in about 25 years. (You know where this story is going, don’t you?)
Just south of Ukiah, there is a moderately hilly section of Highway 101 one lane each direction. As one climbs each gradient, there is a passing lane, allowing slower vehicles to move to the right so others can zip past. Such was my case while following a big rig driving below the speed limit.
Pulling to the left, I “punched it.” Please remember that my car is so slow, one uses a calendar to time its acceleration, and so I did not grasp the power of my rental vehicle. The result being that in addition to cresting the hill, I (allegedly) crested the speed limit for, oh, maybe ten seconds. Recognizing this, I immediately braked.
As fate would have it, a CHP car was lingering on the opposite side of the road, radar at the ready, aimed at the summit, expecting someone just like me. It was his lucky day — but not mine.
Flipping a “U,” and turning on his lights, the nice young officer engaged me in conversation on the side of the road (while I watched the big rig rumble into the distance down the highway). Referencing the hill behind us, he said, “I saw you trying to pass that big rig up there. In doing so, you exceeded the speed limit. I need to see your drivers license and registration please.”
“It’s a rental car,” I said
“Can I see the rental agreement then please?”
A few — very long — moments later, I signed the “notice to appear” and returned his clipboard.
He gave me a friendly “salute,” and said, “Now, please drive safely and have a nice day. (Yes, he really did say that.) By the way,” he added, “You might want to be aware that a car like this gets a lot of attention.”
“Thank you… I think,” I replied. I had heard talk of such rumors; but never knew them to be true.
So, I have another trip coming up in two weeks. I’m considering renting a 50-year-old VW Beetle. No way, I’d get a ticket in that, even if I were doing 90.