Beware The So-Called Upgrades


Assume for a moment that you’re a contract killer and you’ve been hired to do a hit in Boston. After flying in from the West Coast, you’d need a car, right? You’re not gonna travel to your “job” by bus and you sure as hell aren’t using one of those Smart Car-sharing deals.

So you rent an automobile. But you don’t want some puny compact like a Ford Fiesta. The trunk space is way too small for a body.

This is what I’m thinking as I stare at the car my wife and I just rented from a company neither of us has heard of before. The Chevy Impala is jet black with large tires and a menacing hood that screams “I’m most likely armed, do not fuck with me”. It’s so long that one of us will need to be outside the car when we park, lest we run over a dumpster. And the trunk? It’s at least four feet wide and deep.

A guy from the rental company approaches. He smiles and says, “It’s brand new. Only seven miles on it.”

This low-mileage doesn’t surprise me in the least. Most customers probably take one look at the Impala and then go back inside to get something more fuel efficient. Like a tank.

It’s past midnight and we’re too tired to fight, so we submit. I load into the car, remembering the last time a car-rental company gave me a so-called “upgrade” (translation: The economy car you reserved and actually wanted is not available). I drove a huge SUV from Portland to Seattle in 2/3 the regular time. I felt like a drug dealer who’d scored a sweet ride. Until I filled up the tank and looked at the credit card bill. Then I just felt like a chump.

I start the car and creep out of the lot, feeling like I should be wearing driving gloves. I hit the road and punch the gas. The Impala rockets forward. It’s like I’m in an episode of The Fast And The Spurious.

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One thought on “Beware The So-Called Upgrades”

  1. It seems like rental car reservations are just a suggestion; they don’t really reserve what you want. BTW, I don’t think an Impala can keep up with a Porsche Carrera GT!

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