Sunday, May 22, 2011

Learning the Hard Way

Who knew? Without a driver's license, you might as well not exist.

I made the mistake of misplacing/losing my purse the day before I left for New York. I was positive it was in the house, but no one could find it. I retraced my steps the day it went missing, and called each one but no one had seen it. So I grabbed my passport for ID and headed to the airport. Good enough, right?

Not if you want to rent a car, apparently. I only realized as I was on my way --  literally in the air -- to Ft. Lauderdale to speak at the Women's Conference for Conservative Judaism.

I suspected that not having a driver's license would be a problem. But I had my passport. And even better, I knew my driver's license number! (I know that's weird, but I also still remember the phone number of the first house I ever lived in, from age 3 on, xx years ago, and yes, it was already a 10 digit phone number back then). I thought I'd save the rental agency some trouble by going directly to the California DMV website and try to pull up my license, but there's no such option. So I kept my fingers crossed, waited in line for half an hour, smiled brightly at the representative who was free -- who told me very kindly that there was no way that anyone would rent me a car without my license, knowing the license number notwithstanding. In fact, even if someone else rented a car for me, the car rental police would never let me out of the rental garage without my license.

Now my purse had turned up by then -- in San Diego -- but I was in NY at the time, making do with a Ziploc bag as a wall; there nothing I could do about it then, so I agreed to leave it in the safekeeping of the manager's locker until I returned (I had forgotten that we ran out to dinner at 5 Guys the night of the "Day the Purse Went Missing"). But I hadn't realized the urgency of having my license until too late. But surely having the license number... I seem to recall once getting stopped by a cop when I didn't have my license on me -- maybe we were going to the beach (and if it's the time I'm thinking of, that's a story unto itself!) -- but knowing my driver's license number back then was good enough. But it wasn't good enough for Budget Rent-a-Car (not that I blame them)..

I'll spare you the rigmarole of seeing if I could borrow my in-laws' car while they were out of town; I could -- except that I had no way of getting to their apartment (and would have been an exorbitant cab ride). I ended up having to ask my sister-in-law if she would rent the car for me and add me as an additional driver. Worked out fine -- once we found each other at the airport rental counter; it hadn't occurred to me that she, as a Florida resident, had never needed to rent a car at the airport before, and the Ft. Lauderdale airport has an entire, 4-story building that you have to take a bus to, and which she'd never  had reason to know about before. But once we found each other, she got through almost all the paperwork BUT still needed my driver's license to add me as an additional driver...

Back to square one. I was embarrassed to do so, but had no choice other than to ask her if she would rent the car for herself (with me paying for it, of course) so I could borrow her car, and that's what we ended up doing. My sister-in-law was so gracious about it all; I'm just plain exhausted. I ought to get some sleep before I speak tomorrow. And it would be nice if my throat didn't hurt in the morning like it did today, but I don't expect to get everything I want. Wish me luck.

No comments:

Post a Comment