It’s been three weeks since I traded 45 New York degrees for 85 Florida degrees (the difference between a light jacket here and a tee shirt there). And, as usual, there was a story about a rental car. Economy Car had the cheapest rigs offered on Travelocity, Orbitz and Priceline…and that’s what I chose. After all, a car’s a car.

A shuttle bus at Fort Lauderdale Airport dropped me at the rental car building, housing all the renters. Scanning the roster of agencies, of course…from the venerable (Hertz) to the local brands, Economy Car was a no-show…not even on the third time through the list. Hackles rising, I call a number on my reservation sheet. They verify that I have a car reserved, but their facility is off-premises. “We’ll pick you up”, I’m told . “Problem is, we don’t have any cars.” “Great”, I say, “then why pick me up?” “Well”, he says, “I’ll call around to friends in the rental business to see if we can get you one.”

Long story short, they drove me 10 miles to a rental car counter in an obscure, edge-of-city motel, where they did scrounge a car. And half an hour later, I was on Alligator Alley, driving to Naples and looking for fauna. Fat chance. The road’s pin straight and devoid of any sign of the lethal creatures that once tilted with cars for space in the fast lane. Some blown 18-wheeler tire treads did have an eerie resemblance to alligators. But that, unfortunately, was as close to realismo as the trip got.

There was, of course, other excitement…dinner at Mel’s Diner, shotguns, biscuits and gravy, bodies inflated with bicycle pumps, sitting around the pool, but I’ll serve that bubble and squeak in the next blog.