Two things you need to know before I start this story.
One, when I did my New England trip early last month, I rented a car because I was trying to visit a ton of people. No kidding – I spent at least one night each in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts! It was fun to see everyone though. One reason I hate renting cars is the added stress of being in possession of something that costs more than I have, and something that at any time can get hit or broken into or dinged or whatever! To be honest, the people we usually visit when we’re up in New England don’t live in the nicest of neighborhoods (Paul’s parents included), and I know that the rental car sticks out with its newness and shiny paint. We’ve never had any problems but there’s always the first time… I always feel a great relief when I return the car to the lot!
Two, when we went to California last February, we were going to rent a GPS so we could more easily figure out how to get to all the places we wanted to go. We found that it was actually just as expensive to buy one, so we did and we’ve been using it on trips. (We prefer the whole getting-lost method of finding our way around Atlanta. ;-)) It’s really nice to have, but sometimes it can be sooo frustrating when it tells you to take roads that aren’t there. The biggest is when they have finished construction but the TomTom doesn’t know that, and so then I get horribly lost… Anyways!
So one of the evenings that I was up in New England, I joined my dear friend Becky at her house in Rhode Island to celebrate her birthday! I was staying with my in-laws, who live about half an hour away in Massachusetts. I was by myself of course (Paul was in Atlanta), so navigating around Providence was very unfamiliar territory. It also didn’t help when Becky would make comments such as, “I wouldn’t trust it in THIS neighborhood…” Not that I was scared for my safety, but rather for the safety of this car I was renting. :-)
We left at 10:30 at night, and the car was untouched – all the hubcaps and tires were there, the taillights were still there, and the windshield. Excellent, we’re doing better than Peru already! I got in the car, turned on TomTom and told it to take me back to Massachusetts.
TomTom then proceeded to take me around ALL these backroads through Providence. I saw numerous cops along the way, lights flashing… a few times they had somebody in cuffs while they looked through a car. Groups of people were hanging out on streetcorners. I locked my doors and tried to concentrate on driving. I was nervous being in unfamiliar territory, going through an area of what I later realized was East Providence, and I had no idea why TomTom was taking me this way! TomTom seemed to disagree with reality about the streets available for me to take, so I ended up missing a lot of turns and the GPS having to “recalculate route…”
Finally I made it to a highway, which TomTom insisted wasn’t there but I ignored him and followed the street signs and got on, heading to Massachusetts. Relief! I had been on the highway a short while when I realized that the dashboard was awfully dark, why was I having such a hard time seeing it? I messed with some buttons and realized… my lights weren’t on. Yes, I had just driven all that way through the streets of Providence without my lights on! My car (my baby, my Corolla) has lights that turn on automatically every time I drive the car. The dashboard detects when it’s dark outside and turns on the dashboard lights. I NEVER think about my lights. And, since this seemed to be a newish car, I assumed it was the same way. It never occurred to me to, you know, turn on my lights!
I want to know how I made it all that way without even noticing. I guess the streetlights were lit brightly enough that I could see perfectly without them.
I got back without a problem, and I called Paul and told him I missed him and said, once again, how much I prefer having him around when I’m driving around the not-so-great neighborhoods of New England. :-) Oh and random observation about Massachusetts drivers: the slowest drivers are in the middle lane, no kidding. You cannot ride in the middle lane unless you are not in a hurry. I hate going in the left lane, and I hate having to constantly be switching lanes, but that’s how Mass. rolls I guess. I miss Atlanta and my 16 lane highways. :-)