All things considered, I decided to hit the sack pretty early last night. Given everything that had taken place that day, I thought I should err on the side of caution and keep the evening simple. After over an hour of tossing and turning, with my mind running a mile a minute, I finally gave up and turned on the lamp in my hotel room. I watched a total of two movies and didn’t get back to bed until about 3:30 this morning. Then I woke up at 7:00 to start my long journey home. So much for getting a good night’s rest. I’m just a “little” bit tired!
I stayed at the same hotel I used when I travelled to New Brunswick last September. The nice thing about this location is the complimentary breakfast that’s offered, which normally includes eggs, variations of toast and a meat option. I stepped into the dining room to find flat, fried eggs sitting in an inch of water in a warming tray. I stuffed myself with a piece of toast and a handful of sausage links and packed up my room to check out.
I drove to Fredericton International Airport with my rental vehicle, intent on returning it well ahead of my flight to avoid any complications. This was likely a good thing, as I walked into the rental trailer and found the front counter unmanned. This wasn’t unusual, as these folks are human too, meaning that washroom and food breaks must and do happen. But when twenty minutes elapsed and no one showed up, I started to wonder what was happening. Honestly, patience is a virtue. But since yesterday, it rather seems as though every yahoo and their dog is hell bent on making me wait unreasonable periods of time for simple things.
An employee from my rental agency’s competition explained that she believed the guy working this counter had gone into the city, but that he should be back in about twenty minutes. I checked the time. I had been waiting almost twenty minutes already. I decided to be proactive and looked up the rental chain’s primary office and call. I was directed to a call center.
I totally understand that call centers make sense. For the company. For customers, they often present an obstacle that needs to be overcome in order to achieve one’s goals with that particular business. I explained my situation in great detail to the person on the other end, who ultimately provided that she would direct me to a supervisor. I was on the phone for over ten minutes before I gave up and hung up the phone. My rental agency’s competition jokingly mentioned that had I rented from their company I’d be in the airport by now. I was not amused.
By this point, I had been waiting at the counter for almost half an hour. Under normal circumstances, car rental locations have drop boxes that a person can drop their keys when arriving outside of normal business hours. But this WAS the workday, and I had arrived two days earlier than my rental contract indicated. I didn’t want to take the chance that they would bill me all the way to Saturday, so I felt I should be dealing with someone in person. There had to be something else I could do.
A quick Google search provided three local branches of this same rental agency in the city. Ah, good ‘ol Google comes to the rescue! I phoned the first one that listed a local number as opposed to a 1-800 number that would direct me to a call center. THAT phone call lasted for less than a minute. The person I spoke to apologized and explained that it was his fault as he had asked the employee to run some spare vehicles down to his location. Apparently, as there were no “scheduled” rentals this morning, it was an ideal time to make a run. The person on the other end indicated that he had left about ten minutes ago and it’s a twenty-minute trip. He advised he would call the employee to ensure he made no added stops as I was waiting for him. I politely explained that despite having no “expected” rental pick-ups, there was always the chance of someone stepping in to rent a vehicle that wasn’t pre-scheduled, or someone who would return a vehicle early. Like me! A business had to plan for such contingencies.
I turned in my vehicle and made my way inside the terminal. I was provided with my boarding passes and got through security without issue. My flight also boarded and took off without any issues, which was a nice change. The only exception was that they wouldn’t allow me to bring my carry on bag into the aircraft. I was too exhausted to argue and turned it over but I understood once I was inside the plane.
It was without a doubt the smallest aircraft I’ve ever been on. A single row of seats on each side, no overhead bins, no flight attendants and the only staff were the captain and co-pilot. It was a brief, 45-minute flight but the small stature of the aircraft made it so that I could feel every minute adjustment in heading and every little bump of turbulence. Loads of fun, if you don’t mind riding your roller coaster at 15,000 feet above the ground!
The rest of the trip home, albeit exhausting, went off without a hitch. I had breaks of at least an hour between all stops, which allowed me to rest and caffeinate. Once I reached Toronto-Pearson Airport, I had an excellent burger that was made with lamb and sampled a Toronto IPA.
I arrived in Regina at roughly 7:45 p.m. this evening and let me tell you, it’s been something. I left on a plane on Tuesday morning. A total of about 7,800 kilometres travelled, including flights and vehicle rental, six different planes, two hotels, passed through at least seven different communities while driving and all of this was accomplished in about 62 hours. All for an interview that lasted an hour and I was dropped from the process about an hour later. Brutal.
I’d like to say this has taught me a lesson, but it honestly hasn’t. I’m too damned stubborn to stop or quit, despite the effect that this trip has had. One thing is guaranteed; as nice as it is to travel back to New Brunswick, nothing topped walking off that escalator and seeing my wife and kids waiting for me. Now if y’all will excuse me, it’s been a slice but I’m gonna go sleep in my own bed now. ☯