Friday, April 16, 2010

Day 11 of 10 -- No Place Like Home

I'm home. I ordered Chinese food. I am thrilled to be here. Typically I wish for an uneventful trip, but that was not meant to be. I felt as if I had tricked the system since I did pay for prepaid gas, even though consumer sites tell you not to with a rental car because I hate finding a gas station close to the airport.

So the low fuel light went on with the airport exit 9 miles away and I felt pretty good -- that if I didn't screw up, I could coast in on fumes and make the pre-paid gas work for me. The price per gallon was something like $2.60 prepaid which I thought was good.

I arrive at the Hertz return, but all is not well. Those computerized guns/receipt makers they use are down and so he told gave me a piece of paper with my mileage and said I had to go to the service counter.

When I saw on a map how far away the service counter was -- at the opposite end of the airport, I tried to beat it. I called various 800-numbers on my rental folder, all for naught. I didn't even care if I had a receipt -- I just wanted to make sure the car was checked in.

Well, being a Libra, I first decided the heck with it -- I'm not going to do anything, and then I started imaginging the phone call I'd get around Tuesday with Hertz wondering where their car was. How would I prove I turned it in?

I decide to go for medium pain now to avoid the big pain in a few days so I started walking. Imagine a huge international terminal. Now stuff in 1000 families with little kids all running around, all tourists, it's warm inside, it's Friday, I'm exhausted and i'm lugging a big suitcase (yeah, it's on wheels, but still...) and my computer bag and I start walking. And walking. Literally from one end of the terminal... now imagine the place for all the airline counters... past one, past anouther, past another... no end in sight...

Of course I start sweating so I looked and felt horrible. When I finally get back on the elevator to go to the rental car level, there are about 10 parties in front of me. I'm still sweating. I call out,, "I'm returning here because your machines are broken; do I have to wait in line?"

The answer: Are you a member of the Hertz #1 Club?

I have no idea. I don't think I am currently, so I just stood there and sweated. When it's finally my turn, the woman asks for my license and credit card as if I'm renting now. I said "No." She said "No??"

I said, "I have been on quite a hike" and I explained to her. She got very serious, very type-y (started typing all sorts of things in); she told me the car had NOT been checked in so I was right to go through this.

At one point, another clerk interrupted her and she said, "I can't do it now; this woman has just walked from Returns" and they looked at me like "Wow" -- she then told me she was going to take $100 off my rental because of the walk.

OK, I got over that -- but I tell you, I was tired and then back to Delta, through the security, on this fricking tram, to my gate which is always the last one. I was pooped. I sit there and finally they start boarding and I have my boarding pass in my hand and there were 3 or 4 people in front of me, and three (count 'em) TSA Agents pull me out of line as if I'm a drug dealer. (Hey, I've watched "Locked Up Abroad" on National Geo Channel!)

I had to put my hands out palms up so they could swipe them with that cloth thing that they then put into a machine and the guy went through my computer bag-- all for nothing. No drugs, no exploding underpants, nothing.

As soon as we pushed back from the gate, all was well. In fact, the flight was early, got a cab, and since I've been writing this, my Chinese food has arrived!

There's no place like home!

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