Tuesday, August 14, 2007

3 Strikes

Oooh, look at me using a sports reference!

Here's why: last summer I rented a car twice with National Car, this summer I have rented once with Alamo (both operate out of the same space downtown) - all three times I have had to wait at least an hour to pick up the car even though I did reserve it for a specific time. So that's it. Three strikes against them. They're out. I will not use them again. I will pay more to have a car at my disposal for the precise time I need it, not an hour later, not when I am hosting a party 35km away and not when I am providing half the food.

Talk about adding to my stress level. I had reserved the car for 10am Sunday morning. I showed up at 10:15am (after stopping to buy a little flower for the party at the train station). Only as I walked in the door did the sight of 6 people sitting around start ringing bells in my head. A moment later as I approached the desk and handed over my license, I suddenly remembered last year. I got the same line, "I'm sorry, we won't have a car available for you for at least an hour."

Oh. My. God.

The wheels started clicking furiously in my head as I calculated that I would have a total of 15 minutes to do my hair, put on make-up, empty the dishwasher, hang up a load of freshly washed clothes, and pack the food, present, etc. for the party. Can you see the beads of perspiration appear on my forehead and my eyes bug out of my head? Yeah, it wasn't pretty.

So, I told the not so sympathetic clerk that this posed, kind of, a REALLY BIG PROBLEM!!! Ok, maybe I expanded on the truth a little ... (I am feeding 25 people lunch in less than 2 hours and I have all the food) much help it did. Their solution was to offer me a "pick-up truck SUV". No kidding. The name alone pretty much told me that there was no way I could drive it. And after seeing the garage driver drive it up to me to see for sure, I was more than sure I'd never step foot in it - even if I could climb up without the assistance of a ladder!

Work with me here, people!

Just to give you some frame of reference: I am 5'7" and I was wearing sandals with about a 2" heel. The top of the front of the truck's hood came up above my shoulder. I would have definitely needed a ladder, or at the very least a step-stool to climb up into the driver's seat. Oh, and although there was no trunk, they suggested I just place all the food in the flat bed part of the pick-up. And what? Let the stuff just fly around without any kind of cover? Do they eat? Do they have any concept of food preparation and hygiene? Any? At all??? I'm guessing not. At my refusal of this vehicle, they offered to call me on my cell as soon as something came in. Fine. But if it really was going to be an hour, I would cancel my reservation, 100% refund, no penalty charges, thank you.

They did call me about 15 minutes after this to let me know that they just got a car and it would be ready for me in 15 minutes. Hurray! I hung around the bookstore for another 10 minutes and walked back down to the shop. Only this time, it seems they gave the "the car just came in" message to everyone who'd booked for the day because now there were 6 people in front of me and it seemed that every single case was a problem one that only the manager could solve. After much toe tapping, glancing at my watch and some heavy sighing (very passive-aggressive but I just didn't care at that point) the manager came out with a set of keys for me. I grabbed them and ran!

With the clock seriously ticking now, I jumped into the car, screeched out of the parking lot, down the street (please, no red lights), home, in the front door, hang the laundry, screw the hair just throw it back in a clip, 2 minute make-up, screw the dishes, pull out the last items from the freezer and quickly into the thermos bag, trip #1 at full run to the car with box of dishes and platters, back into the house, trip #2 with bag of food and freezer stuff, back into the house - OHMYGODTHEPRESENT!!! The gift was still hidden in my closet from the last time Cecilia came over. Oh holy crap - I haven't even signed the card!!! Sit down, scribble some inane remark, hope it'll do. Grab the present, my camera, purse, out the door, up the stairs - OHMYGODIHAVETOCHANGEMYSHOES!!! Back down the stairs, much fighting with the key in the door, drop everything on the floor, change the shoes, grab the bags again and out the door, into the car. Sorted.

Made it there about 20 minutes late, the party went off without a hitch and I got a lovely refreshing swim in the pool when it was all over.

All said and done. That is the last time I use Alamo/National.


Why said...

You told that so well, I started getting stressed too!

Stef said...

I get heart palpitations just thinking about it.