August 7, 2013 —
The plan was to leave Friday night to meet my mom up at Granddad Stuart and Elaine’s house in Vermont to celebrate my mom’s birthday.
I love traveling by train, and the thought of hurtling smoothly through the Vermont countryside seemed like a good one. I’d take a nice long train ride up from New York City and get some work done along the way. As it sometimes does, however, real life intervened, and it didn’t really make sense—only one train, leaves too early, arrives too late. I would have to rent a car.
“A walk-in?” The Hertz-Rent-A-Car clerk said with an eyebrow raised.
“Yeah, why? Is it cheaper if I reserve online?”
“Much,” she said with a little grin.
“OK, I’m a Hertz Gold member, if that makes any difference.” She shook her head. “So it’s better if I do it on my phone right here, right?”
She shrugged her shoulders, “Cheaper if you do it online.”
I opened the Hertz app on my phone. “Login and password?” I was prompted. I should pause here and say that the Hertz App is a terrible app, and I always remember this as soon as I open it up to use it. This time was no different. It’s terribly designed and counterintuitive; most offensive though is the fact that it constantly requires you to re-enter your member number and password.
I futzed around with it for awhile, the clerk watching me patiently. Internet service was spotty deep in the parking garage where the checkout area is located and I moved toward the door. Nothing. I rubbed my face in frustration.
“Can’t get it to work,” I said to the woman with as much of a smile as I could muster.
“I’ll make a reservation. It’ll just be more expensive is all.”
“No no no. I’ll be back,” I grumbled, and on my walk home, I decided to rent the car and drive up the next morning. I was tired and frustrated, and it didn’t seem like a great way to embark on a long journey.
I left at 6:30 a.m. sharp and with my online reservation in hand I scooted right through the Hertz line.
It rained off and on, but the early morning light was beautiful as Ira Glass’s voice escorted me up I-87 toward the Green Mountains of Vermont. I’ve traveled this road often.
Granddad Stuart and Elaine live in Killington right by two big ski spots; driving by, the slopes were green and the lifts were frozen in place.
They have lived in this house for as long as I’ve been around. I spent a week there every summer as a young kid and from time to time would be there in the winter when I would tear up the slopes with my grandfather. In the summers, Elaine would take me horseback riding.