Thursday, October 4, 2007

Visiting Julio


After Sunday's debacle at Enterprise, I've been feeling pretty bummed all week. I'm in the middle of submitting a passionate complaint to the Better Business Bureau but in the meantime my crap for storage has been sitting around my apartment eating up valuable space. Worse, on Sunday the mouse made an appearance, peeking out from below the boxes stacked in front of my closet. Oy. I felt like I couldn't catch a break.

On Sunday night I applied to join ZipCar. The application was pretty straightforward - they asked for my name, address, some basic license information and asked if I'd ever been in an accident, etc. Still, I was surprised when on Tuesday I was already approved! I'd chosen to pick my card up at their office since it was less than 5 blocks away from work. I went to the office, got my card and asked "Is that it?" with a touch of shock in my voice. "That's it," they replied. "Now go Zip!" (OK, I made that last part up.) No stupid deposits in the hundreds of dollars. No embarrassing bureaucratic red tape. Just a background check on my driving record, and voila, I was in. They even waived the application fee since I was already a Zip member through work.

I had chosen the pay-as-you-go plan since I doubted I could justify the cost of the monthly plan. To book a car, you go to, find the nearest depot and choose from the available cars. There is a depot 3 blocks away from me at 79th b/t 1st and York. Nice. I decided to book a car for a few hours on Wednesday. Since it was Tuesday evening, the availability was a bit slim but there were still multiple cars for me to choose from. I was disappointed but not really surprised that no Minis were free. Instead, I booked a Scion.

Wednesday after work I headed over to the garage and picked up my car. Really cool feature - I just had to hold my ZipCard up to a sensor on the windshield to unlock the car and confirm my pickup time. This would be very handy if you lock the keys in the car...unless your purse with the ZipCard also happens to be in the car. I was not excited about the Scion until I saw it. The older versions were very masculine - boxy and kind of fugly. But this was a brand new one with more roundness up front and it was actually kind of cute. Scion is actually a subset of Toyota and this Scion looked like a mini Rav4. It had some pep too.

My biggest fear was finding parking on my street to load up my crap, but as luck would have it there was a parking spot open two buildings away. The car was small so it easily fit in the tight spot although it had a blind spot in the worst possible place for parallel parking. I was happy to find that there was enough room behind the car to open the hatch, another fear.

R and T were back to help me load up. I also learned a new game in NYC - "Are you leavin'?" aka "You pullin' out" aka let me just slide my car up right next to yours. I felt bad since parking is so tight as I told each person in succession that it would be awhile. At least everyone was very polite about it. I thought one of the drivers would curse me out, but no one did.

After we loaded up we scarfed pizza for energy. I had planned to drive the boys to the unit but the Scion was packed to the brim. So they hoped in a taxi and followed me across town to the Manhattan Mini Storage up near Columbia. I drove through Central Park - what a kick! I'd always wanted to do that.

I backed into the dock and called M. She lived a block away and wanted to come say hi. The boys started unloading my stuff onto carts provided (thanks guys!) while M and I oohed and aahed over the ZipCar. We took the shot at the top of this post in the loading dock.

"Look!" she said. "This car has a name just like Hunk did." Sure enough, the car was named Dakota. Seemed appropriate given my penchant for naming inanimate objects. We decided that the storage unit needed a name too. M had received a welcome letter from the manager of the storage complex. I read the letter and joked it was like it came from the unit itself. And that settled it - we named the unit after the manager. We were going to see our unit, Julio.

With three sets of hands to help, unloading took less than 10 minutes. After a brief rest, I drove the guys back to their apartments - it was the least I could do. Then I dropped the car off back at the 79th St garage. Easy peasy. I tapped my ZipCard on the windshield sensor again to confirm my dropoff time, and just like that I was done.

I still think the ZipCar is a bit expensive, but not having to worry paying for about gas or making sure it's at the exact same level as when I picked up the car (or tolls if I had needed to pay one) is a nice touch. Maybe next time I go up to CT to do my laundry, I'll take a ZipCar. Hmmm....

No comments: