Since the loss (or theft) of the license plate of our minivan occurred over the weekend, its replacement would have to wait until Monday, which is today. But I still have to send our D to her school early in the morning, before the license tag office opens. That means another day of car rental, this time without any consideration for cargo space. So we settled for a full-size car, from Avis, for a reason that would become clear in a minute.
Early on Sunday my wife left in Yu Huei’s car for a Buddhist session at St. Pete. And the Budget rent-a-car outlet closes at 1pm on Sunday. My plan was to return the rented car after 3pm the next day (in order not to incur an additional day of rental unnecessarily) at the end of Our D's school day. So that leaves the Avis outlet, which closes at 4pm on Sunday, within a manageable walking distance from our home.
That was the contingency plan (by foot) in case Yu Huei and her entourage could not be back in time to give me a lift to the outlet. And I was right. So I started walking from our home at 2.55pm, across the entire breadth of the USF campus, about diagonally. Kind of like a self-guided tour, taking in all the academic buildings, the green, the lake, TV9 station broadcasting a baseball game just next to the Sun Dome, with spectators cheering on, parents chaperoning their children for Sunday Chinese Schools at Cooper Hall, some tailgating exchanging tall tales perhaps, some students heading toward the library, minds afloat pondering issues of the day, the gentle breeze helping to evaporate the light veneer of perspiration on my body, and my feet brushing and crushing the dead leaves strewn on my path, a rather zig-zag one as can be seen from the approximate track traced out in red on the aerial map below.
I arrived at the Sear Auto Center where the Avis outlet is located after 35-min of rather brisk walking, though still giving me some time to smell the roses, so to speak. While the clerk was completing the paperwork, I could see the sheen of sweat on my exposed arm, a sight I have not seen for quite a while. But I did not feel short-breathed, the ambulatory aerobic workout was just what the doctor ordered.
Guess what I got this time? A white Dodge Caliber, from the Grab Life by the Horns people. It’s a dainty car, and our D even remarked that she would like to make that her first car. However, the engine noise was a wee bit loud for me. Also, the acceleration was on the under-performing side, even for an auto shift, a case of the noise output being not commensurate with the torque output. (I forgot to take a photo of the one I rent, so this one downloaded from the Dodge Caliber website would have to do.)
I returned the car this afternoon. But got a free lift to get home from Avis. A nice gesture from the We Try Harder people.
But before that and earlier in the morning, I made a beeline for the downtown County office building where the license tag office is located, resigning myself to a long wait in a crowded room. And boy was I ever wrong. I left the office about 7.45am, got myself in a little gridlock in downtown, but was lucky enough to find a metered parking space just when I was burying myself in regret for being indecisive in grabbing an earlier vacant lot.
From there it was a brief walk across the road, then up the elevator to the 14th floor. And I found myself to be the first customer of the day. Here’s the ticket as proof of my Uno position just as the clock struck eight, the magic opening time. And I left with a brand new tag complete with decal, without spending a dime for the replacement, and I had not even warmed my seat yet. Because I have the police report case number, courtesy of the Hillsborough Sheriff Department last Friday. My colleague was amazed at my good fortune after undergoing a loss of sort. So next time if you happen to lose a license tag, you know what to do.
The only “loss” of the day was I put in two hours worth of quarters in the parking meter when one was adequate, after the fact. But I did make somebody’s day, whoever chanced upon the “paid-for” parking lot that is.
On balance, it turned out to be quite a balanced weekend. We incurred some unforeseen expenses, but I got a great workout, not to mention test-driving two American automobiles, and learning something about replacing license plates, literally as well (we spent some time in the Ace Hardware store looking for the two screws for fastening the license plate and thanks to a lady helper there who alerted us that we should look for metric sizes since our Minivan is a Japanese import after we could not find an Imperial size (the politically correct term should be British) that matches the hole exactly, the license plate was secured). I guess for the next few days I would be checking my license plate regularly.