It annoys me when I hear people talking about a good used car as an old ladies’ car, meaning that it has hardly been used. Well, maybe not for extended trips, but for trips to the grocery store and the hairdresser, and parked in lots and garages where the car develops a history of dents and scratches.
Still, it was not long ago that I was the old lady driving such a car. The body was certainly in need of repair from bumper to rear fender. Some car had hit my parked car. Although I had not witnessed the worst of the damage done in an upscale (Whole Foods) parking garage, my insurance company covered the damage and gave me a rental car for the time that my car was in rehab.
I, the fabled old lady, explained to the rental person that I required a car much like my Subaru Forester, which met my needs as a person with back problems. On the day of the switch off, an orange Jeep driven by a young woman from the rental company appeared at the body shop ready for adventure. A joke perhaps, I thought, preparing myself for an age discrimination suit. But no, this was serious business and I gingerly stepped up and into the car. It was perfect. I felt comfortable. A good match.
What I wasn’t prepared for were the innumerable buttons on the dashboard, and the absence of a key to start the car. After the amiable young woman described all the services these buttons provided, I was ready to go. Or was I?
My son called as I prepared for takeoff and asked whether I had the rental car.
“Yes,” I replied. “It’s an orange Jeep.”
A long silence ensued. “Seriously?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said, “but I can’t talk now.”
I stepped on the brake, pressed the “start” button and took off.
At first, I was nervous and decided to go straight home rather than run errands which required parking. But gradually, a feeling of freedom overwhelmed me and I began to feel at ease with this clean, shiny vehicle. It was smooth and even graceful as we glided along.
My daughter, hearing of this new acquisition, promised to take photos of me and my Jeep. That weekend she asked whether I felt like a movie star. A bit, I conceded, but more like Nancy Drew, whose roadster I had always admired. After some research, however, we decided Nancy Drew was outdated while Grace Kelly was an established icon as she drove along the Cote d’Azur. Accordingly, my daughter went online and learned how to arrange a scarf Princess Grace might have worn. I was ready for my close-up, even though we were far from the Cote d’Azur in my garage.
The response to these photos, when sent to friends and family, was very joyous and full of compliments about staying young and enjoying life. For so many people hidden away during the pandemic, my orange Jeep was a getaway car, far from the repetitive dullness of so many past days.
I was sad to return the getaway car, but some of the fun in driving it remains and encourages me.