I rent cars all the time to get around, from one car I deliver to another. I've become very good at finding the nearest location, the best prices, and getting around via Avis, Hertz, Budget, etc. And things usually always go very smoothly, as I enter the agency with a solid reservation and a smile on my face.
Just the other day, I was in Los Angeles and had dropped off a car. I had an important meeting across town with someone who felt my Blogs could be turned into a TV series. I set the reservation for 8am, when they opened, and I was there right on time. At 8:30, the woman who worked there finally showed up and opened the front doors. She told me it was going to take a few minutes for her to get set up and feel in the right mood to be ready to go to work. I'd never heard of such a thing. I wanted to ask why she opened up late, but didn't want to get off on the wrong foot. It helps to be positive in life, makes things run more smoothly.
When she finally got started, she said "OK, now, you want a car?"
"Yes I do, please."
"Sorry, we don't have any available."
"Oh, but I have a reservation," I said as I pulled out the paperwork.
"Don't make no difference if I ain't got no cars."
"But ma'am, I made my reservation over a week ago."
"I don't care about that, I ain't got no cars."
I looked at her nametag: MABEL. "Pardon me, Mabel, but--"
She interrupted me with defiance, "My name is Miss Roosevelt."
"Pardon me, OK, Miss Roosevelt. Listen, I have an important appointment in a half hour from now, and I really need to get there."
"May I suggest the city bus?"
"I really need a car."
"Well good luck on getting one."
Just my luck. I was dealing with one of "Bill's people." Please God, not now, not today.
"Miss Roosevelt, somehow there has to be a way that you can honor my reservation."
"I don't know nothin' about no honor, but I know I ain't got no car for you. Unless you want to upgrade."
"Your reservation is for a compact, I ain't got no compacts."
"So you found my reservation?"
"Baby, I never lost it. It's right here in my computer, but if I got no compact cars, then you have to upgrade. How about a nice minivan?"
"Absolutely, that'll be fine."
"It'll be $35 more per day."
"Wait, why would I pay more per day?"
"For the upgrade? Don't you know how things work?"
"Yes I do, and in the past if your company didn't have the car I ordered, they gave me a free upgrade."
"Free? Free! You gotta be dreamin', why would I give you anything free? Maybe in the wonderful world of Oz, but not in the real world."
"This doesn't seem right to me."
Mabel suddenly got very upset and raised her voice. "Hold on! You just hold on! What are you accusing me of? Huh? What are you saying about me? You trying to tell me how to run my business? You think you can tell me how to do my job?"
"No, please, calm down."
"Don't you tell me to calm down! Don't you think you can tell me how to live my life! No sir! This here is Mabel's place, and you're in Mabel's space. With Obama comes change!"
I had heard that last sentence once before, and it didn't quite make sense to me either time. I went over and sat in a chair, trying to show that she was in charge and I was backing down. Frankly, my blood was boiling inside, but I felt I must act submissive if I was going to get the car I needed.
"You about ready to cool your jets and be a good boy, now?" she asked.
"Yes. I would like the minivan, if you would be so kind, Miss Roosevelt."
"Good, now that's what I like. Good manners will always win you what you need." She went about the paperwork, and I glanced at my watch. It was going to be tough to make it where I needed to go with morning traffic in L.A. And Mabel was going so slow.
After 20 minutes of dragging her feet, she had finally completed my paperwork. During this time, another customer had walked in and said, "Got any cars for rent?" to which she replied "Well maybe I do and maybe I don't." They left immediately.
I signed my paperwork and hurried out to the minivan. I saw it had only a 1/4 tank of gas, and Mabel had said it was full and that I had to bring it back full. So I went back in to have her make a note of the actual gas in the tank. "I'll have to go outside and look at the car and see for myself before I agree to that. Before I make any kind of note, I have to see that gas needle for myself," she proclaimed.
"OK, fine, come on out and take a look."
"I'm about to take my morning coffee break, I'll come out in 15 minutes when I'm done."
"That's Miss Roosevelt to you! And if you leave now, you are responsible for a full tank of gas!"
I left, because a full tank of gas was not as bad to deal with as being late to a meeting.