January 12, 2012

A Red Fiat & Wrinkled Khakis. ~ Andrew L. Crowson

photo: Giampaolo Macroig

I have never have been more sure I was the butt of a cosmic joke; it seems the universe aligns itself in such a way that the Divine Prankster is able to play hilarious and ironic jokes on me with ease.

This week was supposed to be cut and dry — I was supposed to spend two days in DC, fly to Dallas and then drive to Nashville by Thursday afternoon.

Even with the simplest of plans, I’m always on the lookout for a stick that will find its way into my spokes. I know it is a fatalistic way to look at life, but seriously nothing ever works out the way I plan it, and hear me, that’s not always a bad thing. This time, disaster struck across the midwest as storms penetrated a vulnerable countryside of Texas.

Very rarely am I satisfied with my experience on an airline. My flight to DC from Dallas was so uneventful that I was sure that American Airlines would get me from DC back to big D without problem. It wasn’t American’s fault that the DFW airport was beset on all sides by severe weather, forcing my flight to land in Memphis. Nor was it their fault that the Memphis Airport Hotel’s lobby was decorated in 1989. But they still became the locus of my frustration.

Ever been on hold for two hours? I have. Twice. This week. With two different companies.

No one seemed to be able to help me with my problem. Except for Priceline’s name your own price car rental, which delivered in a bigger way than I could imagine. I rented a compact car from Alamo Rental Car and planned to drive the three hours from Memphis to Nashville. In hindsight, it seems that I am getting to be very good at replacing old broken plans with shiny new ones.

photo: Andrew Crowson

Running to the airport after the worst shower of my life, I was told by yet another American Airlines representative that my swiss-watch plan of flying from Memphis to Dallas on Saturday instead of Wednesday was, in fact, impossible. Not a great start to the day.

Barely awake and a little perturbed, I made my way to the car rental complex where I would pick up whatever sporty compact car I had reserved the night before (which incidentally, was after midnight from the foot of a creepy hotel bed).

At the Alamo desk the rental representative informed me the only car available was a fire engine red Fiat 500, a car that I didn’t realize was being sold in the States.

This car only had eight miles on the odometer, I would soon be taking that number well into four digits.

Entire worlds full of books could be written on the ebbs and flows of the human emotional system.

How — at one moment you can be completely moribund of joy and then in the very next find yourself drenched in laughter — will remain, to me, a mystery of the human experience.

When I saw the 500 for the first time, I couldn’t help but to walk around it twice (a process which, due to size, took less than 10 seconds) and laugh at the idea that I would be driving Mr. Bean’s car to Nashville and then on to Dallas.

Driving this car conjured up looks from other passengers that can only be described as priceless.

Imagine a car that you might see clowns pour out of being driven next to the typical Rebel-flag clad trucks of central Tennessee and you will get the image. I am sure I was having far more fun than any of the other passengers of flight 1105 from DC-Reagan to DFW that day. They were on a plane arriving a day late to meetings and proposals while I was driving and laughing at the sheer hilarity of the vehicle whose miniature steering wheel I found myself behind.

Up and over the rolling hills of beautiful Tennessee countryside my matchbox car propelled me until I reached Music City. It’s cat-quick steering and ample acceleration more than made up for its lack of imposing size.

photo: jczart

A three and a half hour drive flew by faster than expected and I quickly met up with a friend whose laughter at my rented toy was sufficient to make me giggle all over again. He and I grabbed a quick lunch as he showed me some of the parts of Nashville that only a local would know.

Leaving my original plan to drive from Dallas to Nashville meant that the only clothes I had with me were the suits and dress shirts I took to DC. This meant that I desperately needed buy more casual attire better suited for a normal job interview as well as nights out in Tennessee’s capitol city.


Luckily there was an REI nearby where I could shed the confines of business-wear and don a more comfortable wardrobe–a needed change when one is fighting demon cicadas that seem to have taken over most of Nashville. These bugs are literally everywhere and will not stop at your face if they find it in their flight pattern.

Loving the idea of reacquainting myself with all the friends I have in Nashville, I found myself calling everyone I could to see what we could do, and if they could explain these infernal insects which were so numerous they had become part of the oxygen makeup of Nashville’s air. I love meeting new people, and I love seeing old people that I haven’t seen in a while even better.

The trick to life, I think, must be that in order to keep it from being dull, you must never be dull. And driving a car that sounds like the Jetson’s flying machine doesn’t hurt.


Drew Crowson is a student of life. He travels across the United States seeking proper enlightenment and scribbling thoughts into his tiny notebook. Yoga keeps him flexible, coffee keeps him sane.


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