Smithology: An Ode to the Rented Car Trailer

Rob Siegel

Oh, you rental trailer! My savior, my familiar, callooh callay!

How broad your galvanized frame! How stout your oversized axles! Do I dream almost nightly of your hefty and awkward sliding steel ramps? Of your hinged fenders, which fold out conveniently, allowing an ordinary human to open with a mortal hand the doors of the rolling turd on your deck? I dream even of the lightly grumpy rental-company employees who serve you. Who hook you to my pickup’s hitch, then indifferently watch me test my turn signals in your parking lot, before announcing, palms-up, that precisely three quarters of those signals are suddenly inoperative, because Who Can Know, Sir, Turn Signals Are a Fickle Mistress?

The less penitent dare to question. Why, they might ask, do said signals cease function the moment your harness plugs to my vehicle, its mighty Class 3 hitch blessed with your steely embrace? Should I deign to doubt your agéd multi-pin wiring plug? The Nixon-era electrical tape upon thy holy butt connectors? Your wonder is definitely curious but also strangely dependable, and to doubt its power would certainly cause said might to cease availability at many fine franchised locations nationwide.

The prayer is simple, its yearning complete: Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of actually buying a trailer myself, I shall fear no immobile four-wheeled crap-purchase. For you are with me, conveniently rentable in most cities and villages and even, through the unknowable wisdom of your creator, various unincorporated communities.

You are the rented car-hauling trailer. And you have been, and always shall be, my friend.

suburban towing uhaul trailer
Rob Siegel

Once, before personal awakening, I chanced to doubt your flaws. They now stand as remind to care for my own. You fit no car or truck well, serving all equally! Your hydraulic surge brakes reserve their unknowable power for panic stops and long downhill stretches, and their capacity for fade in either situation is but note of our need to stay humble! Who save a sage would devise wheel straps that hold a vehicle down, albeit never so well that a fortunate servant is not compelled to seek the assistance of the graciously provided secondary tie-down chains bolted just fore and aft of your axles?

Fate, like those turn signals, dwells astride the wind. We know not where it blows, so we remember to chain ourselves. And are grateful.

There are questions, as on Passover. Who among us has not needed to move a car—at last minute, in some remote location, title in hand—and sauntered up to the service desk of the local Me-Haul? Who among us has not gawped there at the mass of sturdy and reasonably priced cardboard, marveled at varietals of packing peanut? Do we ever show true appreciation for your service? Did a friend once tow his rally car 1000 miles on your back, using your ramps as jack stands in the service area of a stage rally, just because he could?

Of course we don’t; of course he did. Rental trailer is many-splendored thing, but above all, it is dependable: Like mortality or taxation, like Everest, you await us regardless of need, a perpetual North Star. The price of admission is mere short money—less than the cost of buying one’s own trailer, it must be said—and will to pilgrim. Plus the cost of some dirty old hot mess of an inoperative hoopty one has just bought and must get home by end of weekend. Sign the disclaimer, sign the credit-card receipt, travel to glory, hosanna.

trailer no side step fenders

I have hauled with you so many times, since college, since the ink on my first driving license was wet. So many wheeled nightmares lugged across the country, untold miles and states and time zones. To say nothing of the receipts, funds tithed in exchange for audience with a benevolent presence.

An unwise but curious individual could go back through an online bank ledger and add up all those receipts.

Do not do this, on a recent Wednesday night. Do not crack open a bottle of Del Maguey Vida and make eyes at the internet until it delivers a copy of one’s current statement of account. Especially do not go back years.


Those who question this spend are not true believers, dear trailer.

A time lives for each purpose under heaven. Occasionally, that purpose comes back around on the guitar. One day soon, my friend, you and I will find a car for sale on the internet. You will not know this immediately, but you will play your part. You will be rented again, from the nearest and most convenient Me-Haul. We will drag said car home. The road will abide. You will roll on, thoughtless and giving, leading a prize to a better life: that $2000 Miata, that $500 Jaguar, that rusty old hulk of a BMW.

The specifics are immaterial; we must only from time to time avert our eyes from the light of that sticker on your fender, the one that reads TIMI⅃ 55 ƎƎƧ. Choosing, of course, to fudge that sacred velocity only in times of great personal risk and possibly also to avoid an accident he was coming right for us ahem cough cough.

bmw 2002 on uhaul trailer
Sam Smith

Imagine the mirth were you lighter or stronger! Imagine also the rending were your services to vanish from earth. If I were forced to purchase my own trailer for crapcan draggery? Order destroyed! Darkness upon the land! Your narrator would be divorced and sleeping on couches and spending even more money on storage units and extra domum parking than he already does, and that is saying a lot. Also, a certain bank account would be much poorer in the moment, and what is that money for, really, if not road food and ugly but nonetheless eminently desirable nonfunctional machinery at points distant and sundry?

Your assistance and grace is not always perfect, O Trailer, but it is mine, and complaint would be missed point. A de-hitching from the tow vehicle of gratitude, as it were.

So I dream of lands far off. Of the junk cars living there, the metal children pining for new homes. Mindful of how you have helped. Of dreams made real! A companioning for the wandering of my life!

Your siren song! The clatter of your unique and 2200-pound ladder-frame structure! The joy of your divine near-jacknifing! A blessing upon the land!


Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Thou art more mobile and more rentable:

Thy wheels doth stamp the darling buds of May,

And two day’s lease is, like, way reasonable.

Sometime too hot the grease of wheel-hubs run,

And often is the cheap stampéd steel dimm’d;

And if the free-way fright’ningly declines,

By chance or pickup’s changing course untrimm’d;

   So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

   So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.


As a wise man once said, now concludes my broadcast day.

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