Yes, It’s true. I stole a car today. Sadly, no one even noticed it was gone and I returned it to get a second car. Now what in the world would a person like me do with a stolen car, you ask? Well, sit back and follow this story that is NOT a tall tale but an actual recount of a car thief’s voyage from virgin to professional.
I travel for work. I go to cities that everyone knows and some that people think are in a foreign country but they are indeed, in the United States even if you’ve never heard of the city. I try to get hotels that are within walking distance of the client’s office but sometimes it’s just not possible. Today, I left my house around 830am and arrived at my destination, after flight delays and long layovers, close to 8pm. I’m not usually bothered by long days or even delays; I take as much as I can in stride. Despite this VERY annoying lady behind me putting her things under the seat in front of ME, I kept my cool and shoved my things on top of hers. Even when she got up before the seatbelt sign was turned off to grab her things and walked in front of me, I held it together and ignored her and her inconsiderate ass. Who knows, maybe she has one of those nagging bladders like the commercials on TV. I remembered the day before to download a bunch of Amazon movies to keep me occupied and had a nice lunch in Charlotte during my connection, so I forgot all about the world of angry and annoying flyers.
So I finally get to my destination, get my bags on the carousel and head to the car rental. I have one of those memberships where you can walk right to your car without talking to any humans if you don’t want to; and I don’t. So after quickly walking up and down the aisle, I check out the AV systems of one, then another, then another (oops that one was for another rental agency – they should really keep those cars separate) and then another (hmm it’s locked – someone’s going to be pissed when they find out someone locked the keys in the car haha) and then finally chose a white SUV. As I go through my typical routine to set up my iPhone, my music, hotel directions, power cords and such, I realize they forgot to leave the key in the car like they usually do. So instead of asking the rental return lady across the aisle where the keys are, I just check the usual places; side door pocket, sun visor, center console – winner, winner, chicken dinner.
I start the car, and drive out of the parking garage. Hmmm, I think, that’s odd. Usually the gate leaving the garage has an attendant and I have to give my license, cards and get “checked out” with the car I’ve chosen. So I stop to see if I’ve driven down the wrong way or some other bone head move (yeah, it happens sometimes). But no, there’s only one way to go in and out and I’m going the right way so I keep driving. Well, I follow Mr Google to the highway and then suddenly in my rearview mirror…. awwww shit! I really did leave the airport property now. There isn’t another car rental gate to check out. Oh my god, I’ve just stolen a rental car. HA. Wait. That was WAY too easy. There is NO way they would even know I have THIS car. So I pull over. Not to call them. No. To close the tailgate because I think it was the reason my console overhead light won’t go off. Yes, THOSE are the things that make me pull over, annoying beeping sounds, things that clang in your car while your driving, not something like finding out I may have stolen a car. I pull up the confirmation email from the rental car place on my phone and clearly see (for the first time) that is says “No Counter Bypass: Proceed to the rental counter to pick up your vehicle keys.” Then I start laughing. Holy crap. I’m a car thief. And it was EASY. And i didn’t even mean to do it. Can I put this on my bucket list AFTER I’ve already done it? Ok, I have to go back now.
Well, that would be easy if my phone didn’t decide to forget it had cell service at that precise moment AND if I could turnaround. So I’m forced to get on the highway and get my “OJ” on (sans cops thank god). I think it was about 10 minutes from the moment I drove out of the rental garage to when I pulled back in. I park it in the same spot I took it from (which is not the rental return section) and as I get out, the same return attendant that watched me take the car earlier says “Are you returning?” to which I casually and confidently say “No.” and walk to the inside counter.
I had every intention of telling them exactly what happened but, it was like those ridiculous scenes in the movie where everyone keeps talking over each other and the character can’t seem to get a word in to give the simple explanation. Instead of sharing the “funny” story to them about how I just stole AND returned one of their white SUVs, they can’t find my reservation. Oh this will be EVEN better if I went to the wrong rental car company!!! After a moment, they find my reservation, thank me for be an “elite” customer (if they only knew) and ask if I’d like the complimentary upgrade to a minivan or just take the Jetta. (they might want to reword that for me) I take the Jetta after I give them my credit card this time of course.
So now I am legally driving a rental car to my hotel and lo and behold what do I see? Krispy Kreme with the Hot Donuts NOW sign!!! The angels of donuts were watching out for white SUVs tonight and they rewarded my bravery and honesty with HOT DONUTS! Mmmmm