Just a girl and her (huge, huge) ride.
If you’re wondering why, exactly, I decided to rent a 16-foot truck and drive it from Los Angeles to San Jose, my feeling is that the answer should, at this point, be obvious:
For a chair, of course.
But not just any chair; come on, I’m not crazy. It was a 1970s wicker flamingo chair.
And it wasn’t just for the chair: it was also for nightstands that aren’t a foot shorter than our bed and have actual drawers (hooray), a wicker console to replace the one we have that doesn’t hold anything, and a brass lamp with a three-foot-wide lampshade. Whatever I had to do to bring these babies home, it was going to have to happen.
Here’s how I came into this decorating windfall. My friend Audrey – whose home remains the single most beautifully decorated house I have ever stepped foot into, and who routinely scouts the Rose Bowl flea market and returns with the most spectacular vintage finds – posted on Instagram that she was clearing out her guest room in preparation for the arrival of her second child. She mentioned that she was looking to sell some of her stuff.
…Did anyone want it?
Oh, someone sure did.
Except then there was the issue of how to get Audrey’s furniture from her house in Los Angeles to my house in San Jose, approximately 400 miles away. Because I am nothing if not resourceful when it comes to truly great chairs, I came up with a plan wherein I’d use a Delta credit I had to fly one-way to Los Angeles, hang out for a day or two, and then load the pieces into a rental van and road trip my way back home. Only one tiiiiiny little problem: the rental place I called didn’t have a van on those dates. They could offer me a truck for the same price, though!
When I showed up at the Budget rental place and the guy led me over to my ride, I just about died.
It was the size of a studio apartment. And the plan was for me to sit in (and presumably steer, and presumably also not crash) it for six entire hours, plus pee breaks.
A quick rundown of what trucks like this – or at least this particular truck; I cannot speak for all trucks – do not have:
- Rearview mirrors;
- Shock absorbers that function;
- Windows that function;
- Air conditioners that function;
- Doors that close completely, and thus create a thrilling “wind tunnel” vibe in the cabin;
- USB outlets, or any outlets, actually (shit);
- Even vaguely acceptable handling capabilities.
I asked the guy at the rental place if he had any tips for me before I got on the road. He suggested I put my Gatorade bottle in the cupholder. Cool.
I have to say, though: thank god I got that 16-footer, otherwise it might have been awkward getting my new furniture home.
My favorite thing about driving this truck was that I really got to let all my crazy out. Like when I parked at a gas station to use the bathroom, then got back in the truck and realized that I was going to have to reverse it if I wanted to get out of the parking spot, but could see literally nothing that was behind me, and ended up leaning halfway out the window with my arms windmilling around, screaming “EVERYBODY MOOOOOOVE!” at the various groups of people assembled in the parking lot.
I also discovered that changing lanes in a truck is no easy feat, as your blind spot is at least the size of Texas. The first time I discovered this – before I got a handle on how to use the double side-view mirrors – my strategy was to nudge my way over little by little, get blocked by a Miata, then scream “LET ME IN! I’M IN A FUCKING TRUCK!” at the driver. I don’t think he heard me, but the whole interaction was pretty entertaining regardless.
I also got yelled at by a police officer, because I was pulling into a gas station and saw the car next to me rear-end the car in front of it…and then literally back up, step on the gas, and rear-end the car again. True story. I have photo evidence.
So I stopped the truck right where I was (which, ok, happened to be a little bit still in the street, but how was I supposed to know where this beast ended?) and yelled out “Are you okay?!?!” to the driver of the front car, but apparently a police officer had seen the whole thing and was right behind me, and got on his loudspeaker-thing. WILL THE DRIVER OF THE BUDGET RENTAL TRUCK GET OFF THE ROAD IMMEDIATELY. I spun my head around, looking for the idiot in the Budget rental truck who was holding up traffic. He walked up to my window. “Get. Off. The road.”
…Oh right. I’m the idiot in the Budget rental truck.
(I had forgotten for a sec.)
Me, realizing that I am about to be stranded.
Oh, and I almost ran out of gas. When I say “almost,” I mean that by the time I pulled into a gas station (a solid fifty minutes after I’d decided that I should look for gas, and simultaneously merged onto a windy, winding mountain pass that went on forever and for all eternity), the truck was making this sad, limping little thunk-thunk-thunk noise, and I had a hand clapped over my mouth and was saying (out loud) OH JESUS OH JESUS OH JESUS OH JESUS. Because really, I can think of few situations in which it’s less fun to run out of gas then when you a) are in a truck b) are on a windy, winding mountain pass and c) have no cell phone service, because you are in a truck on a windy, winding mountain pass.
I also hit a car, but really I only hit the guy’s side mirror with my own side mirror, and he was super nice about it so I think it was okay.
Anyway, I did, eventually, get to San Jose. My kids came running out to say hi, then stopped dead in their tracks when they saw their mother climbing down out of the cabin of her truck. “…Did you…drive that?” my son asked.
…So now my kids think I’m a huge badass. And I own a flamingo chair. Clearly worth it.