View From a Cop: Steve Rose and Wife Take a Zany Graduation Trip to D.C.

Sandy Springs Police Capt. Steve Rose says the craziness all started with the rental car he and his wife picked up in Washington D.C.


My daughter graduated from George Mason University this past week. We flew up to Washington D.C. to enjoy watching her receive her diploma. Because of the running around needed, we rented a car.

Sounds simple.  

We were tired and wanted to get to our hotel. We made the walk from the terminal to the bus to the rental cars and to another line. We stood in line for a while and then spoke with the representative who couldn’t find my reservation. She finally found it and processed the paperwork and said: “Well, it’s a Nissan.” Okay, sounds good. Nissan. Good stuff.

The walk to the where the cars were parked wasn’t that long but again, we were tired. We finally found our section “A” and walked down the line looking for “A-13.” We walked up to “A-13.” What we saw made us stand motionless and silent. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing.

I had rented a clown car.

The Nissan Cube is probably a fine car if you deliver flowers or pizza, or make your living piling 10 of your best clown friends in and bursting out under the big tent. But the Cube is not the car that you really want to drive to your daughter’s graduation—or more importantly, the dinner after with your ex-wife and others in attendance.

As I said, we stood silent, staring at the Cube as others, who had rented real cars, walked by and snickered. We were already being ostracized by our peers.

If you haven’t seen the Nissan Cube, let me describe it to you. Picture a shoe box with tiny wheels. That’s a flattering but fairly close description of this vehicle.

At this point, what I should have done was turn around and demand another car—and perhaps wait another hour or two until they found one. Like I said, I was tired. Sandy was tired. We decided to drive the Cube, a decision that we regretted soon after driving onto the freeway.

Washington D.C. traffic, to me, is worse than Atlanta traffic. You spend more time not moving than moving. When you’re not moving for a while, you begin to look around, as did those drivers on all four sides of us. They stared and some, perhaps wanting to show some sympathy, managed to smile at us just before bursting into laughter. With nowhere to hide, we were on display in the tiny little clown car.

The drive from Reagan Airport to Fairfax where we were staying took about an hour and a half, covering some 18 miles of crawling along and being stared at.

As we inched along, I thought that a good marketing edge for the clown car would be tinted windows. I’m sure more people would buy them if they couldn’t be seen in them.

We arrived at our hotel and parked the car in the back where no one could see us exit the clown car. As we parked, a guy in a big pickup truck pulled up and parked next to us. You could have fit the clown car in the bed of the truck. We quickly hustled to our room, being careful not to remove our sunglasses.

What happened to us next was at first unexplainable but later we realized it was an effect of being inside the clown car.

When we arrived at the hotel, we began to make stupid mistakes on simple things: I couldn’t figure out the remote and then later, how to make the shower water hot. The handle was clearly readable, red for hot and blue for cold yet I could not get it to work. It wasn’t broken; I just turned it the wrong way. We walked across the street to a restaurant. As we sat, I called my daughter to come by and have a beer with us. I asked the server if they had a bar as I had not seen one when we entered the restaurant. He replied that we were actually in the bar area. There it was, right in front of me. Sometimes I miss things but I can usually spot a bar.

This was not normal. Coincidence? I think not. We finished our meal, visited with our daughter and then returned to our room. Again, I could not master the remote. I am the king of my remote at home and yet I can’t make the channels change. Turns out I had it backwards and most likely, was changing the channel in the TV next door.

Somehow, some gamma rays or other unexplainable force in the clown car was making us stupid.   

Still, we had no choice but to drive this little car and so we did. The next day we left to run some errands. I had a camera and my laptop in the room and left the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door. After two hours in the clown car, I returned to the room. When we saw the sign, we left again.  

The graduation at George Mason University is a big event, attended by many. I swore not to let anyone know what I was driving so I parked in a remote section of the parking area and following the graduation, we discreetly found another exit as not to attract attention—except that of the cop who didn’t want us to use the exit marked “No Exit.”

I’m sure he would have written a ticket to me but he couldn’t lean down far enough to look me in the eye so he just picked the car up and pointed it at the proper exit and said, “Go that way.”  

The following day, Sandy and I drove out to a town named Front Royal, to a wine tasting and general spring festival event. Later, we were hungry and bypassed a dollar hotdog stand in favor of a Greek Gyro stand where two Gyros cost us 18 bucks. We forgot to ask how much they were—more evidence of the numbing effects on the brain which I believe was caused by the clown car.

When we turned the car to the airport rental return, the nice man who checked us in asked if we were satisfied with the car. I said, “Yes but I still don’t know how they get all those clowns in there. Ha-Ha.”

No one laughed. Drat! I was still stupid more than usual.   

The Nissan Cube is a small car that only the extreme tree-hugger should consider buying. People stare at you and make fun of you.

I have enough aggravation in my life without driving around in a box. I know it gets good gas mileage but I’m thinking that I’d rather pay the gas prices.

I also learned that when you rent a car, ask for the model in great detail. Even more so, if you do make the mistake of renting the Cube, when once you see it, weigh the decision to return it and spend an extra hour at the airport while they find another car vs. getting to your hotel or destination sooner.

It isn’t worth it, Turn around and go right back into the office and get another car. If they find you another car and use the word “smart” in the description of the car—leave.    

Adrianne Murchison May 22, 2012 at 01:41 PM
What a trip and a must read!
Kdan May 25, 2012 at 01:59 AM
I had the exact same experience on a business trip to Miami. I wanted a Nissan Cube but they gave me a Charger. I'm not even black! Officer Steve, you really need to travel more and stop worrying about what people think of you. Trust me, I'm sure they think you're not Cube material.


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