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The world was in its second year in the new millennium and my dad got news from his office that, for my family, was even bigger than the Y2K problem being solved. His Managing Director had decided to gift him with a car commemorating 35 years of service. For a middle-class family, this was big. I could think of little else.

A few days later, one fine afternoon, the doorbell rang. My mom opened it to find a man clad in white and white. His first words were like music. “I am the driver, ma’am. The car is here.” All hell broke loose. I turned off the TV and stopped my lunch midway. I changed into a fresh set of trousers and a T-shirt. My sister did the same and in a matter of minutes, we were ready to see the love of our life. 

We walked down the single flight of stairs and headed to the parking lot of the apartment complex. We took the last turn and froze in our tracks. There we saw standing in the center of the lot, shining in the sun, with its radio antenna up, and headlight having those fancy shades, a bright white Ambassador. My jaw dropped. Our first car was a white ambassador! This car was a hatchback wannabe sedan. My heart broke. All those dreamy rides on the highways, all those stylish parking maneuvers I had planned at the beach, gone to dust. We are owners of an Ambassador.

Still, it was our first car. We should love and adore it. I made up my mind and we proceeded to the car. We checked it inside out. We made the driver open the bonnet and looked inside. We explored the back trunk and checked the spare wheel too. We sat in all possible seats by taking turns. I sat in the driver’s seat with my sister riding passenger and my mom in the rear. Then we took turns and swapped seating positions. I complained to the driver that the hand gear was old-fashioned, and the front view clearance could have been better.

 We inspected the car to satisfaction and got out of the car. I looked at the driver and told him “OK, tell the company we got the car. You can give the key and leave.”

The driver looked shocked. He replied, “Sir, I shall be with the car. So key can be with me.”

I was clever and knew drivers might misuse the AC. So I told him “Give the key to us and we shall bring it with us whenever we want to go out.”

The driver looked flabbergasted. “Sir, this is a cab from Preethi travels. Weren’t you the one who booked it for the 4-hour package today?”

I am sure, back at the travel company, we were dubbed the car psycho family that inspected a travel cab, sat in the driver’s seat to evaluate, and tried to steal the key from the driver!


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