I lived in Chicago for six years before moving to LA. Chicago was easy in the sense one had the El
or the Metra
to take one everywhere that one wanted to go. At a pinch there were friends with cars.
LA however, is very different. There is not even the pretence of a public transportation system, or at least not in the westside where I was planning to live. Santa Monica has its Big Blue
bus service but there is no way to depend on it for going to work or getting groceries especially at odd hours.
So what is a girl to do? Well, this girl proceeded to take driving lessons and got her license in Illinois the day before she moved to California! Hurrah - you would think. Well, not exactly.
So there I was armed with a day-old driving license and I go into a car rental agency and rent a week-old car. Whoa, did they just gave it to me like that? Yes they did, and all I had to do was give them my credit card, sign up for full insurance coverage (this is very, very important) and get the keys in my sweaty palms.
So then, I get into a nice looking car parked in the rental lot, right next to a little sunshade held up by a metal post. I switch on the ignition, put on my seatbelt and press down on the brakes, and shift the gear from parking to reverse and then take my foot off the brake gingerly. Nothing. I take a quick look around to see if something obvious had gone wrong. Nope. Nothing. I decide that its because the car is parked on a gentle slope and move my foot to the gas. Yes, you heard me right. A tentative poke at the gas, hmm it seems to work, why don't I push harder. And I did.
It had been less than five minutes of renting the car and I had pretty much destroyed its front right bumper and lights as the car had swung around to hit the post in a good imitation of greased lightning. Did I forget to mention that I had the steering wheel unstraightened? Will the gentle reader at least stop laughing long enough to ask me whether I was hurt?
Thankfully, nothing sentient was hurt except my dignity. It was just that the full insurance I had purchased had come in handy much sooner than even my paranoid self had expected. I scurried back inside the rental office, signed an accident report form and meekly accepted keys to another car and drove off, this time making sure to release the parking brake before trying to move.