Saturday, April 2, 2011

At 5:30 a.m. I set out for the airport with a cup of coffee and a smoothie warily circling one another in my stomach.  The Chevron station on Central Avenue was glowing in the darkness and I remembered that I had to fill up the tank in the rental car.  I pulled in around a CBS Channel Two News Van.  A blonde television reporter and her cadaverous, but affable camera man had been condemned to put together a pre-dawn price-shock-at-the-pump segment for the morning show, and they did their best to interview me as I groggily fumbled with my credit card and pumped the gas.  I tried not to sound like a moron.

Their questions and their chatting and their filming delayed me only a little and I made it to the airport in good time, circling into the rental car return lot.  I noticed with a sinking feeling that Enterprise didn't have a kiosk there, and I began to vaguely recall that once years before we had rented a car in Burbank, not so much at the airport as really near the airport.  And that had probably been Enterprise.  It was about 6 a.m. now, beginning to feel a little late considering my 7 a.m. flight, but clearly not late enough for any uniformed humans to be hanging around the rental car yard.  I wondered what would happen if I just returned the car to National instead.  Something really expensive, probably.  

Now began a process of driving that part of Burbank that could be considered really near the airport.  I tried to dredge up from memory the side street that Enterprise was located on.  All I could recall was that it was off a main street and the name of the street had been memorable for some reason.  6:05 . . . 6:10 . . . 6:15 . . . Winona Street - that's it!  and I screeched into a left turn and down Winona street.  The welcome green glow of an "e" showed me I was right.  Maybe they didn't want customers, yet, because they'd barricaded the entrance with a van and some pylons, but I sped into the "Shuttle Only" entrance, wound around to the back, handed a guy there my pink contract papers, and lugged my bags onto the airport shuttle.  

I try not to show up at security checkpoints sweating, since that's just asking for a lengthy pat down, but it couldn't be helped.  However, Burbank seemed to be expecting no trouble and I got to the gate in time.  In fact, by climbing in the back entrance of the plane (none of those fancy walky-tubes for Burbank - you cross the tarmac and climb the steps up to the plane like it's 1955), I actually got that seat by the emergency exit where no one sits in front of you.

Not that it mattered once someone noticed that an engine was leaking fuel.