Upon arriving in beautiful Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina the other day, I jumped in a National Car Rental shuttle en route to a satellite lot near the airport. As we neared the lot entrance, the driver asked, “Are you an Emerald Aisle Member?” His silver front tooth sparkled in the sunlight.
I responded, “Um, I have a National Car Rental card but, um, [fumbling for wallet] I’ve never used it and…“ The shuttle came to a sudden stop in the middle of the lot, 1/4 mile from the office to which I expected to be delivered.
“You can get off here,“ the driver announced. I sat there for a moment, indecisive, before rising to leave.
On the hot asphalt, a lot attendant appeared from nowhere, waved his arm across the horizon, and said, “Choose a car, sir, any car.“ Several hundred new automobiles of several makes and models sat before me. I looked at the attendant for a long, dazed moment and then looked back at the cars. Sensing my indecision, he said, “Your choice. Keys are in the ignition. Just hand your Emerald Club card to the lady on your way out,“ and walked away.
I could almost hear Neo say, “We’re going to need cars, lots of cars.“ I jumped in the nearest GM sedan and accelerated onto Interstate 40 less than three minutes later.