Are you my rental?

Wednesday, November 19, 2003
It’s not uncommon for any of us to be caught wandering around a parking lot, looking for our car.

A few weeks ago we had a presentation in Albany at General Electric. I was to take the train from Long Island into the city and meet Ben, Nextek’s tall, geeksome CFO at Penn Station. As a native New Yorker, he fearlessly danced us through the city’s rush hour traffic.

The very early morning was dark and rainy. I was late for the train. Hurrying, I parked my rental car at the huge commuter lot at the Ronkonkomo LIRR train station and, just in time, boarded the 5:30 into the city.

The General Electric facility was a small city, each of its inhabitants sporting security badges as they moved through guard stations and checkpoints. We were photographed, interviewed by computer, and presented with photo ID badges of our own. Our presentation was un-inspiring and left our prospects somewhat underwhelmed. By 10 PM, I arrived back at the unpronounceable commuter station, tired and a little disheartened.

I began by realizing that, in my rush, I had forgotten to note where I had parked. It then dawned on me that the only thing I remembered about the car I had rented was that the seats were covered with a reddish-brown leather-like material.

The next hour and a half found me walking up and down the rows of cars with one hand on the leash of my stumbling suitcase and the other thumbing the keychain button in the hopes of eliciting a ‘toot’ from the rental’s horn. The seats, as it turned out, were covered with a gray cloth.