Friday, July 5, 2013

My Father's Bad Day

Hopefully, everyone had a great Independence Day yesterday. Mine was pretty great, spending the day with our Chicago friends (local town parade, backyard BBQ and, of course, fireworks).

While July 4th was great for our family, July 3rd was a mess for my father.

Wednesday started out fine. We got to Newark Airport almost 2 hours before our scheduled departure as there was no traffic coming out of Manhattan at 12:30PM.

We went to the Check In desk and checked 1 roller board suitcase and 1 car seat bag. My father made sure they tagged the bag with the right flight information as well as the bright orange Priority Luggage tag.

So with plenty of time before our 3:10PM flight, we went to the United Club Lounge. After a few beers and cheese/crackers, we packed up our things when my father accidentally knocked over his empty beer glass. Despite the floor being carpeted, the glass shattered into a million pieces. A bad omen of things to come.

He quickly picked up the large pieces and informed the bartender about the accident. Realizing there might be children walking around, he asked the woman sitting next to him if she could just watch out for any kids wandering by.

Fortunately, the flight to Chicago O'Hare was uneventful, though I did have a few fussy moments on the 2 hour flight. If the woman sitting in seat 10F is reading this, I'm sorry I kicked your seat.

When we landed, I was pretty hungry and didn't want to eat anything my parents brought me. So we decided to get to the rental car as quickly as possible and find somewhere to get me some food. But first, we needed to pick up our checked luggage. So we sprinted to the baggage claim to retrieve our stuff.

We saw both of our bags come out with the bright orange tags, so my father quickly grabbed them off the belt and we rushed out the door. As soon as we got outside, my father saw the Thrifty Rental Car Shuttle pull up so he ran over (with all our luggage) to get on board while my mother and I followed quickly behind him. We made it! What were the odds that our shuttle was there just as we got outside? That NEVER happens to us! So lucky!

The shuttle driver asked if we had a reservation to which my father proudly nodded, "Yeah, of course." The driver said, "OK good, because they're sold out and don't have any cars available if you didn't make a reservation." My father thought smugly to himself, "Sucks for those people."

But then about 10 minutes into the shuttle ride, my father gets a call.  "Hi, this is a bit awkward, but is there any chance you have our car seat bag? Because we see yours here at the baggage claim and it looks very similar..."

Upon checking, my father realizes that he had indeed taken the wrong car seat bag.

My father apologized profusely, "I'm so sorry! We're still nearby, on our way to Thrifty to pick up our rental car. It's my fault, so I will bring it over to you at Hertz." (Ever notice that you only use the word "profusely" for apologizing and sweating?)

So we finally get to Thrifty and despite my father being a Thrifty Blue Chip member, everyone else on the shuttle was able to get in front of him on line. He noticed there was a dedicated Blue Chip member line so he went there and waited. But after the counter agent finished with her customer, she called up the next customer from the regular line while my father waited.

Still embarrassed from taking the wrong bag, my father started to get a bit more stressed as he knew he would be furious if he were on the other side. So he sternly questioned, "Excuse me, what's the point of the Blue Chip line?"  The counter agent apologized but continued to work with the regular customer.

Frustrated, he went to his blackberry to make note never to rent from Thrifty again, when he saw that his car rental reservation was actually NOT at Thrifty. It was at Dollar Car Rental! Uh oh!

My father couldn't tell, but I'm pretty sure the counter agent rolled her eyes and smiled quietly at my father's misfortune.

Desperate, my father threw out a Hail Mary pass, "Aren't Thrifty and Dollar the same company? Can I pick up a car here if I have Dollar reservation?"


"So how can I get to Dollar from here?"

"Well, you'll have to get on the shuttle back to the airport." Great, just great.

So now we had to wait at Thrifty (A) to get back to O'Hare Airport Terminal (B) then get the shuttle to the Dollar Rental Car (C). My father then called the other family back and explained that he was on his way back to the airport and that he would meet them at Hertz as soon as he could. He decided not to sound like an even bigger moron than they already assumed him to be so he said that Thrifty "lost his reservation" and that he had to go back to the Airport to get on the Hertz shuttle.

Looking at the map, Hertz was actually "close" to Dollar, but there wasn't a pedestrian walkway along the road. So my parents agreed to split up. My father would go on the Hertz Shuttle (with all our luggage) and my mother would take me on the Dollar Shuttle to wait for my father.

He imagined how infuriated he would have been if someone took our car seat, forcing us to wait an extra hour at the airport. Given his East Coast upbringing, such a long delay from getting to your destination was absolutely unacceptable. My father was so embarrassed and a bit nervous that he would get yelled at. He took some comfort in the fact that the victim family had a 609 cell phone area code (Chicago suburb) and not a 917 area code (Manhattan).

After getting to Hertz, he found the family of 4 (with 2 young boys) and apologized yet again. They were surprisingly nice about the mistake and were just happy to get their stuff back. They politely comforted him, "It's OK. You seem to be having a worse day."

After getting our car seat back in return, he asked the Hertz shuttle driver if there was any way someone could drive him to the Dollar down the road. Nope.

So off he went, sweating profusely, with 1 rollerboard, 1 laptop bag and 1 car seat bag, down the road. As he was halfway between Hertz and Dollar, the shuttle that my mother and I were on passed him on the road. But he didn't see us because his head was faced down in shame.

Next time, we'll just rent our car from Fisher Price.

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