Defending Dads

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Forty-One Years Gone VI

I had made a reservation with U-Haul to pick up a 17′ truck at 12 PM on Thursday, September 29. We were down to the last two days allotted for the clean out by the building’s management. The night of Wednesday, September 28, had been tense for me. It need not have been. The knowledge that my family was counting on me to get it right buoyed my spirits. I woke up on time, bound and determined to do just that.

I got us to the apartment around 9:30 AM. We surveyed what was left to do. The ladies immediately resumed packing the doodads in boxes, but I had lost patience with trying to make sense of chaos. I had the singular goal of clearing out the place. I looked at several large pieces of furniture and thought “how are we going to get these all out today?” That thought proved prophetic.

I packed things with my relatives until about 11:30 AM, at which time I told my cousin Curtis it was time to pick up the truck. Curt and I get along well. I looked forward to our short walk to the nearest U-Haul.

I had not brought home-cooked food with me that day and was by this time ravenous. Curt and I stopped at a diner. Curt didn’t eat, but I wolfed down a Greek omelette with diced sausage. Our conversation was effortless and jovial. I was ready for action immediately after my final fork full.

We arrived at U-Haul only to be told that there was no truck. I found this extremely troubling considering I had made a RE-SER-VA-TION. Isn’t there an episode of Seinfeld that covers this very subject?

I don’t lash out at customer service reps about these kinds of things. I simply asked the counter person what I thought were the right questions. She seemed to appreciate my predicament. She tried her best to accommodate me, but she had to seek approval from her manager of any proposed action she might take.

U-Haul is generally a no-fuss-no-muss kind of business, but I’ve found that employees of many franchises doing business in the Bronx could use extensive training in the art of customer service. Our counter person was pleasant enough, but her manager? Traces of his arrogance littered the place like DNA.

This manager vetoed every attempt by our counter person to upgrade my un-honored reservation to an available 20 footer. Our hero counter person was undaunted. She called another U-Haul location and found for us there an available truck. I was mildly peeved that we had to surrender a good parking space in order to drive across town and pick up this truck, but what was to be done? Time was a’wasting.

Curt and I got lucky this day. At the second location, we encountered another pleasant counter person, though this young lady was more jocular. Within minutes, she had gone online, found my reservation and generated a rental contract. She discussed with us the details of the contract, pointing out a graphic reflecting the truck’s fuel gauge.

I couldn’t resist the opportunity to poke fun. I said to her “Whaddaya think, we’re idiots? We can see that the tank is half-full!” She, Curt and I cracked up laughing, but when she regained her composure, she informed me that I was now sentenced to her doghouse and that she would direct further explanation of the contract to Curt only.

We got our truck and a good laugh in the bargain. The good humor would come in handy. We had work to do.

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