We land in Honolulu before midnight and immediately make our way to the Thrifty Car Rental place to grab our car. Everything was sorted we thought. And were told. I know because I told everyone and sorted it. What Youth is back on the North Shore finally. Been a few years and we’re pretty excited.
That’s when the aloha began to unravel. A transfer onto our “company card” hadn’t gone through. And all other cards wouldn’t swipe. (Don’t let sand get in your wallet). We couldn’t get the insurance we needed for the car. Debit wouldn’t do. And everyone with me is under 25. Basically we stood at the car rental place screwed at midnight, no scenario would work until our funds went through, and that would be “24 to 48 hours.” Had our office not nearly caught fire, this may have been sorted prior to departure. But it hadn’t. So here we are. Our house rental was across the island and we’re pretty well broke for the moment.
After some negotiating with the far too accommodating man behind the counter, Michael got a car for one night. A bright red, tiny Toyota Corolla that would be our wheels for one day. Off we drove. Straight to Taco Bell in Mililani. Not ideal, but hunger is real. Domestic flights don’t serve food. Keep that in mind for future reference. Michael drives like a Hawaiian, nice and slow, but the rain and shitty visibility is a real concern with him behind the wheel. Our car is so small that all our suitcases and backpacks are burying us and claustrophobia is real. I don’t like not being at the wheel. We drive through the lonely parking lot, slowly order 8 of the safest thing on the menu — which is bean and cheese and seven layer burritos.
We are a mess. Michael is so hungry he’s eating his Taco Bell burritos in the drive thru line of Burger King next door because some of us wanted fries too. He’s fumbling coins and money and Taco Bell hot sauce is all over his hands and the steering wheel. He somehow maintains the aux cord as a priority and makes sure we play perfect music through this entirely sad journey.
But all is well. We’re good. We make it to our place a bit buckled, tuck in for bed and ready to restart the next day. We will have to go back to Town first thing and try to get our actual car.
The next morning starts great. Coffee. A few sites on the way out, we pull up to Thrifty Car Rental chipper and happy. We’re in Hawaii, let’s get this car. The people are far too accommodating once again. But our wire transfer falls a few dollars short yet again. $4 short in fact. I kid you not. Nothing else will swipe and manual submission is apparently out of the question. I have to rent this thing or the fees will be too high with the under 25 driver for our whole trip. We’re screwed, a mere $4 short. All other cards are maxed or broken. Frozen at the counter again. Michael reminds me “this is not Subway (whenever being an independent magazine thing like we are goes wrong, Michael reminds me that perfection sucks and if that’s where he wanted to work he’d go work at Subway. I like this. He’s great). He says not to worry about it. Indie mag problems. Fuck it. We call in the real help: Mom. Mom figures out a way to get a wire to go through immediately on our one good credit card instead of waiting the 24 hours. It takes about 200 swipes (seriously, keep sand out of your wallet) but one lucky swipe finally works. Holy fuck, is this real? We are not Subway. A bit shell-shocked, we drive to Town for lunch. Somewhere we can afford, right? We went straight to The Royal Hawaiian, one of the most luxurious hotels in Waikiki.
We wade out a few hundred yards into the true cerulean blue of Waikiki. The water never gets above waist high. We wash off the rental car kiosk and enjoy the eye and mind candy all around us. Waikiki is a spectacle.
We wade back in and take our sandy feet straight to the bar at The Royal Hawaiian. The napkin looks expensive. The Mai Tais and margaritas are steep and are all we can afford for lunch. We skip the food and partake in one of the real luxuries of the planet: a fruit and rum-filled cocktail on the water in Waikiki from The Royal Hawaiian. The edges of our glasses touch, we take a deep breath and get the fuck out of there and head back to the North Shore. We are back. In a new, upgraded four door Mazda. Persistence wins. And we are not perfect. We are not Subway. We’re What Youth, and things going weird is when things are at their best. Aloha and Mahalo. —Travis