Monday, September 22, 2008

I'm Driving a Cadillac myself

Nothing is so calculated to make you feel guilty as to be on vacation at a resort spa, during the worst economic chaos since the great depression.Well,maybe one thing is. When I went to pick up my full sized category rent car in San Diego, I found a Cadillac waiting in my stall. I checked the name on the electric board above the stall and there I was, Winston Porter. I looked at the contract in the car and there that was, my weekly rate with my 30% discount.Somewhow the Hertz gods, through a screwup or a favor had given me a Cadillac.

I am not a Cadillac guy. The only time I ever rented a Cadillac was after I totaled a Lincoln Continental in Tucson in 1988 and had it towed back to thr Hertz agency. Broyles and I were in the front seat of the tow truck and saw the looks of horror on all the Hertz employees faces as we pulled up to the picture window, which looked out on the parking lot. I casually strolled into the office and flipped the keys to the nearest agent. "I'll be needing another now." For some reason they gave me a Cadillac, which was the first rental car I had on that trip that I did not destroy.

I suspect that the reason I got the Cadillac this time is because of my objection to the Ford Taras,the normal car they try to slip you in the full car bracket.I have had them place "No Ford Taras" on my computer listing at the (ahem) Number 1 Club and they have been good about complying. Although pulling up to the nicest hotel in Las Vegas,in my Hudayi, directly behind a Porsche and a Lexus did not make me look like a high roller, still it was better than a Taras.This time, the person who booked me said, "now you want the Taras class, right ?". I said, "No Taras please." This was followed by loud keyboard clicking and an embarrased apology. "OH " she said, "it says no Ford Taras, I am so sorry." Well, this is not the biggest sin in the world (asking me to sit in one of those tall bar style chairs at a Mexican restaraunt is)and I told her not to worry about it. Maybe she did, when I got here, presto, a new Cadillac.

Now a Cadillac used the be the top of the line in autos. Even when talking about other goods, the Cadillac was the standard for the best."Man, that Winchells in the Cadillac of Donuts." But the Cadillac is not the Cadillac of autos anymore.Even when Travolta's character Chili Palmer called his Aerostar the "Cadillac of mini-vans" the Cadillac was really no longer at the top. As we pulled away my wife mentioned that my car was nicer than the Cady. I drive a five year old Toyota that has been through a haill storm. Despite that, I have been proud to be seen here in SoCal (that's what we call it) tooling around in the Cadillac. All of this remeinds me of my Uncle Clifford.

Uncle Clifford was a shady figure in my childhood, he was not the only uncle I had who got divorced, but he was the only Uncle I had who did not then remarry the same woman he had divorced.He was the only single sibling of the nine ,if you did not copunt my Uncle Bryan who was deceased.At any rate, I saw Clifford only rarely,usually at the tail end of a family Christmas party.I asked my Dad about him once and Dad sadly shook his head. "Let me tell you about your Uncle Clifford, a long time ago he bought a used Cadillac which he kept for several years. Everytime during those years that he saw someone he knew he would ask "What are you drivng these days." After the answer, no matter what it was, Clifford would grin and say "I'm drivinbg a Cadillac myself." Which in 1959 meant something if you did not already know that it had 100,000 miles on it, which virtually everybody did.

My dad was trying to make a point. Don't pretend to be what you're not.It is a hard lesson for a human being to learn abd even when you learn it you need a refresher course sometimes. I am not a Cadillac driver. I am not even a Cadillac renter, I know that, my friends knows that and even Hertz knows that.Of course they don't know it here at the hotel, so let's keep it between you and me.


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