This should go without saying, but the idea of someone letting just any old dude have an Olds 442 for a $150 deposit ($866.21 in today's money) is just hysterical.
Let me recommend the movie Vanishing Point.
Barry Newman works for a car delivery service and is supposed to drive a Dodge Challenger from Colorado to San Francisco...
Is that Charles Platt, the New Worlds author? One of the formative influences of my life. (Not in any way related, but when I first came to the states in 1989, my first car was a '70 Corvette. An astronaut car. I was living the dream.)
He forgot to mention which of the men he encountered on his trip were good-looking. Hopefully there will be a postscript at some point that will address that crucial issue.
Oh, no, it was very common. I used to do drive-aways during the breaks in college. It was cost-prohibitive for most people to ship their cars (via truck and/or train), so getting some young kid who was looking for a cheap way to get from point A to point B to drive the car for you was the way it was done.
I never had such a hair-raising adventure myself, but I do have stories.
I also drove a car for transportation in 1971. My friend, his girlfriend and I drove somebody's junker (not a 442) on a milk run from L.A. To Salt Lake City, and the only excitement was stopping in Nevada State highway police office to register the car, per federal regs. We were pretty scruffy looking hippy-types and after doing our paperwork, the Nevada trooper looked us over and out of nowhere apropos of nothing suddenly informs us smuggling drugs in Nevada will get you the death penalty. I think my friend was able to say "Oh." And we were glad we were not smuggling drugs.
Au contraire, I described the male staff of AAACon as looking like failed real estate sales people. Surely, not very flattering. Perhaps if they had been female that would have given you more grist for your mill.
Lyle, it is the same Charles Platt. Hard to imagine being a formative influence on anyone's life, but if it was positive, I will happily take the credit! If you ever wish to make contact, go to makezine.com, search for my name, and the first hit should be the author page with an email address on it.
My uncle (who lives in the UK) did this several times in the 1990s (in his mid 30s) as a cheap way of taking a road trip across America. I'm not sure of the exact financial arrangements, but I was under the impression that they paid him reasonably well.
People are certainly paid for it in the UK- they're called 'trade plate drivers'. If you see anyone by the side of a motorway trying to hitch-hike while holding red and white number plates, it's a trade plate driver trying to save on their return journey expenses. They get picked up a lot more readily than scruffy hippy students, in my experience.
I just spotted my copy of Free Zone this weekend. Gonna recommend it to The Little Lady™ when she’s done with grad school. Pretty cool to see you out in the real world, and thanks for all the words!
Heh, nice to hear from you, Charles!
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