“It’s 1:30am. Your rental was for 9am yesterday.”

“I know. You wouldn’t believe the travel day I’ve had.”

“We already gave away your car. But, let me see what’s left in the lot.”

This was at the Budget Car rental booth in Atlanta. The woman I was talking to said the last sentence with a half smile. “Have fun,” is all she said when she handed over the keys and beckoned the next customer.

As I walked out to the lot I wondered about her last words but was too tired to really consider what they meant, until I approached my vehicle.

She gave me a GT Mustang… a red one at that.

After the immediate evil laugh, I kept thinking back to the Theory of Colour course I took where the instructor kept saying, “people with red cars get more speeding tickets.” This is when my inner voice started to pipe in every few moments:

(Red and fast. Cheers to that!)

On inspection I noticed the vehicle didn’t have rental car identifiers smattered all over the bumper.

(Untagged, beautiful, and mine for the week.)

Many minutes later it was one of those once in a life surreal moments. Driving into the city as lightning flashed behind the buildings and rain misted; jazz played on the radio.

(It’s a shame this car’s an automatic. A car like this needs a stick shift.)

The roads were empty and as I got further into the core I began to wonder about where I was going. I pulled up to a set of lights and hookers leaned over to look in the window to see who was inside.

(Definitely not a good part of town. And, I’m driving a blasted Mustang. Stupid car. Why couldn’t I get a silver Japanese four door with “Budget” plastered all over the bumper.)

The light turned green and I disappear quickly, much to the dismay of the women left behind.

Finding the hotel was difficult. It was tucked away on an obscure little street. I had to drive around the block a couple of times before finding the quick right that led to my hotel.

(Great. Now I look like I’m cruising. Look nonchalant.)

As I pull up, I see a couple of addicts passed out on the street. A suspicious looking man shouts out, “nice car, man.”

(Yep. I’m doing secure valet parking tonight.)

The valet gives me a half smile when I hand over the keys.

“You here for the week?” His smile gets bigger as I nod yes.

(Check-in. Rebook elsewhere. Check-out in the morning. Easy peasy. Definitely won’t be here tomorrow night, little man who is now caressing the steering wheel.)

The hotel was quite nice and seemed oddly out of place in this part of town. The woman working the desk looks strangely posh.

“Valet parking for your car?” She asks.

I nod.

“Smart choice. Also, I wouldn’t walk anywhere.”

“And, you’re staying for the week?”

“No. I plan to check out tomorrow.”

“The Courtyard in ****** is beautiful.”

(Wow. She said that without pause. Must be a common thing for people to switch hotels upon arrival.)

“Beef jerky or points.”

“Does anyone actually ever take the beef jerky?”

She laughs.

“Points it is.”

My room was quite beautiful. Twas a shame to leave. However, I’m not the kind of person who can sit in a hotel room because I’m afraid to go anywhere. And, a red Mustang is meant to be driven and not stuck in downtown traffic or locked up in secure parking.

Thus begins the Georgia evening driving adventures.