Saturday, August 22, 2009

Day 36: Laugh at This Post or I Will Shoot This Puppy

OK. OK. That headline, of course, is a rip-off of one of the greatest magazine covers of all time for the National Lampoon. The real reason the picture is here is because I don't have much to write about in this post, but I knew most of you would still love this blog if I showed you a picture of this little Boston terrier puppy I saw this week. His name is Edsel and he and his brother, Henry, were being kept by one of the managers at the Ford dealer where my parents got their sexy new car.

Anyhow, today's story is unfortunately too typical. It's now been nearly 30 days since we rented our car in Sacramento to start our grand adventure. I had booked the National rental to start on the 23rd of July and return it in Boston on the 3rd of September. However, the guy who was checking us in said their system could only handle 30 days of rental, and he wrote down a number and a name for me to call around August 23. "All you have to do is tell them you are going to keep the car until September 3rd," he said.

Easy-peasy. Well, it sounded that way.

Today I rang the number - which turned out to be the National and Alamo switchboard in Sacramento. "If you know your party's extension, you may enter it at any time," the message told me. I had Tina's name and extension, and thought - how easy! Indeed.

The first time I entered her extension, I went through to the general manager's voicemail. With no back key on automated phone systems, I had to ring again. This time the extension put me through to the maintenance department. I hung up and rang again.

I was prepared. Forget about Tina's extension. I hung on through about five steps in the automated process until I was offered an option to press 5 to extend my return date or change my drop-off location. I promptly pushed 5 and was told that all their lines were in use. Would I please try another time. And they hung up on me.

I left it for a few hours, and when I returned I tried Tina's extension. This time I got Lost & Found. Hung up. Tried the automated system. Got to option 5, pressed it, was told the lines were in use and the system hung up on me again.

Next time I got smart. I waited until the option offered me the operator. Pressed that and spoke to Julie. Asked for Tina, was told she wasn't working today, but Julie said she could help me. To make this long story only somewhat long, I will recap the conversation. I told her what I needed, she took my details, the phone where I could be reached and said she would call back to confirm the extension.

About ten minutes later Julie rang back. She told me she had my records and that I didn't have to call. Since I had booked the car through September 3rd, it would be extended automatically.

I don't mind wasting about an hour doing something they told me to do that I didn't have to. After all, I'm retired and on vacation. I do know Edsel is lucky he wasn't around when I hung up on Julie. Oh, I wouldn't have shot him, but I can't guarantee there wouldn't have been a drop kick on the horizon.

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