Friday, September 28, 2012

SPORTS: Lose ... Please!

[Do NOT click on ANY LINK found in the comment section of this blog. No matter how innocuous the link MIGHT appear to be, it is MOST LIKELY SPAM or a link to MALWARE. I am disheartened by the need to do this, which accounts for the sparsity of posts this year.]

About a year ago, I opined that the Toronto Blue Jays should tank the last month to ensure a low-enough drafting position to weather going out onto the free agent market and spending big, but retaining the first-round draft pick this summer. They won just a LITTLE too much over the last month to protect the draft pick and Alex Anthopoulos didn't go after the free agents he needed to, because of the cost of that precious pick. And went through injury hell all season long as a seeming karmic response.

New season. A bit later (there's a week left this time). Same message.

The Jays currently sit seventh in the so-called reverse standings with the same number of wins as the eight-place Red Sox and one less than the tenth place Royals. In between are the Pirates, who hold the ninth pick by virtue of not signing Mark Appel after the summer draft. The Pirate win totals are moot.

Soooo, can the Blue Jays somehow 'catch' the Mets, currently with three more wins? Of course the Jays can. And it would be partially at the cost of the front-running Yankees, maybe even costing the Bronx Bombers a playoff spot. THAT would be fun ... for about a day. Long-term? Not so much.

Nope, the idea is to keep the current seventh pick and maybe even move up a slot or two. The Marlins have three less wins right now and the Twins (visitors for the last three games of the season in Toronto) and Indians have four less. The odds are surely against Toronto moving 'up,' although a Twins sweep in the concluding week of the season would help. That seems like the best hope for a better draft pick.

And it's not outside the realm. Sure, the Twins will face Brandon Morrow, the lone Toronto starter worthy of the name. But the rest of the final six-game rotation reads like a draftnik's wish list: rookie Chad Jenkins for his second and third career starts, starting with New York tonight, Ricky Romero, the worst starter in the league since June, Aaron Laffey, fading fast and Carlos Villanueva in his last start in a Toronto uniform and with August stats comparable to Romero's. His fading has been the most precipitous, coming after Anthopoulos wondered publicly (and correctly) about his endurance. Suddenly, 1-5 or even 0-6 doesn't appear to be so much of a pipe-dream, hunh?

Having a protected top-10 pick in the draft affords Anthopoulos the luxury he didn't have last year: signing one big-ticket free agent with impunity (well, a LOT of money and impunity). The big problem, is that there might not be somebody willing to take Toronto loonies and toonies. At least that will help the team. Most of the pitching choices seem to want West Coast, contenders or specifically West Coast contenders to sign them. And it would take a little bit of forward thinking to call Toronto a contender in 2013. Just a little bit. But many athletes are not real good at the thinking part.

The Jays need to do something at second base, add one more bat to play LF or in the 1B-DH platoon with Edwin Encarnacion and arrange for the addition of two REAL GOOD pitchers or one ACE and two pretty good pitchers.

I'd like to see them send Escobar out of town to Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Arizona or some place far, far, away ... but get some talent back. In the absence of a talent-acquiring trade, I'm torn about keeping him and moving Hechavarria to second. But I'd prefer Hechavarria to start at SS on Day one, 2013. He's ready. If Rasmus, Lind and Arencibia were given new addresses, I think I could find a way not to cry (by cheering, but that's just how I handle happiness). I am a Lind fan, but everything comes to a natural conclusion. And Rasmus for a power-hitting left-fielder might be a solution. I think I could live with the growing pains for Gose (SOMEBODY teach the man how to bunt, PUHLEASE!!!) and the time to cash Arencibia is NOW. Good defence, good power, good guy. Better to trade the guy a year early then a year late. And is anybody going to pay full price when the Jays are stuck with an embarrassment of riches upon the arrival of Travis D'Arnaud?). Or when Arencibia gets hurt?

So, if the Jays were REALLY going to start the rookies (no longer because of playing time in 2012, but WE will call them rookies), and team them with Encarnacion, Bautista and Lawrie, you would still need that LF, 1B/DH and a 2B. There isn't ANY second-sacker on the free-agent market. A trade would be necessary. Maybe Daniel Murphy of the Mets or one of the Nationals' middle infielders. Maybe employing an old-timer like a Marco Scutaro to put off the decision for a year might work. Problem is, that Scutaro seems to have settled into San Francisco and they probably have the will and the dollars to want him back. It's THIS conundrum that will most plague Anthopoulos come winter. As much as he despises the jackass behaviour and cultural insensitivity demonstrated by his current shortstop, he might have to hold onto him for a year. The BEST combo for Toronto 2013 might very well be Escobar-Hechavarria.

Corner outfielders with some power are not in endless supply, but are available in limited numbers each year. The suggestion that Torii Hunter might want a short-term contract is a thing Toronto should think about. Sure, Hunter wants that contract in California and would have a soft spot in his heart if Minnesota came a-calling. But both options MIGHT not be available to him. Hunter doesn't offer up power as much as good defence (still), a decent bat and some leadership. And that seemed lacking in Bautista's absence due to injury and recuperating elsewhere. Hiring Hunter for a year and keeping Rajai Davis for his late-inning legs would leave me happy with our outfield, with or without Rasmus.

David Ortiz is not leaving Boston. He would be an add for Toronto of immense proportions and would be the final kick at the carcass of what was a Boston contender. But he isn't moving north of the border. Who is? Don't know. I'd hate to start the year with Lind in place, but if he goes, he's going to end up being Aaron Hill redux (you know, the solution at 2B, grrrrrr!). The Mets have Ike Davis (and Lucas Duda) which would make him available. The issue, of course, is that Lind won't fetch much beyond salary relief. Maybe better to keep him as the pinch-hitter, DH and emergency fifth outfielder. But there HAS to be somebody in place between him and regular duty to start the year.

The solution might very well be the same place I expect Toronto to go pitching shopping. The Angels. Might Jerry DiPoto be agreeable to Toronto solving some overstock issues for some of the Blue Jays' pitching treasure? Allegedly, the Angels are thinking hard of non-tendering Dan Haren AND Ervin Santana to accrue the funds to pay for recently-acquired Zack Greinke. PLUS, the Angels have one too many DH types.

So, we have the MASSIVE trade of the off-season. The Jays acquire BOTH Haren and Santana, plus Kendrys Morales. And maybe the Angels even throw in Maicer Izturis but I'm stretching things JUST a tad with that one. What does Toronto offer in return? Casey Janssen, Darren Oliver, JP Arencibia and one of the Lugnut Three, say Sanchez, Deck McGuire from AA and Lind for money and backup reasons. Maybe you announce a player to be named later and make that player a second of the Lugnut trio, contingent on the Blue Jays signing either Haren or Santana to a contract extension. Otherwise, the PTBNL turns into a secondary prospect from the low A ranks.

How's THAT for a whopper?

The Jays would then follow that up with signing Edwin Jackson to a four-year contract. Plus the addition of Hunter. But the Jackson signing is the 'big' money free-agent signing. In fact, I'd give Haren, Santana and Jackson all the same money.

Which would still leave Rasmus, Escobar and ... Ricky Romero as Blue Jays. Would Cleveland take all three (plus Lind if he isn't California-bound) for Shin Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera and Justin Masterson? Wouldn't THAT be interesting?

Why would the Angels participate in this massive re-organization of the Toronto Blue Jays' major-league roster? Turning non-tenders into bullpen upgrades, catching depth (for trade purposes) and two pitching prospects, one of which is exciting, at the cost of an extra DH and an infield super-sub, plus the money saved from declining options on unwanted players, makes this a trade worth considering for them. Choo and Masterson are on their last years in Cleveland and Cabrera can be a bit Escobarish. Maybe swapping the problem children would work out. Escobar has a friendly contract, Rasmus is still under team control for a few years and Romero is, or was, a LOT better than Masterson. Can Romero repeat a common pattern of a good pitcher bouncing back from one bad year? I'd rather he do it far, far away. But if he comes back ... well, history does suggest Toronto regains an ace. But I wouldn't sniff at the opportunity to divest myself of Escobar and Rasmus, both passive-aggressive pains in the butt. And you know, Cabrera might even be willing to move to 2B!!!

Awright, let's see what that leaves in the starting line-up in Toronto come opening day:
Brett Lawrie 3B, Asdrubal Cabrera 2B/SS, Jose Bautista RF, Edwin Encarnacion 1B, Kendrys Morales DH, Torii Hunter LF, Travis D'Arnaud C, Adeiny Hechavarria 2B/SS, Anthony Gose CF. On the bench, Shin Soo Choo, Rajai Davis, Maizer Izturis and Jeff Mathis.

The Jays starter pitching staff? Morrow, Haren, Masterson, Jackson and Santana. Uhhh, THAT'S an upgrade. A little right-handed for my liking, but them's the breaks. The relief crew? Sergio Santos and Steve Delabar at the back end. Lefties would include Aaron Loup and Brett Cecil plus J.A. Happ in long relief. The two righties would be Brad Lincoln and hopefully the re-signed Brandon Lyon.

Which leaves Henderson Alvarez in Buffalo, along with whatever veteran flotsam and jetsam Anthopoulos can find to stock up for the inevitable injuries. Jenkins, David Carpenter, Joel Carreno, Sam Dyson, maybe Aaron Laffey and the returning-from-injury crew ... Jesse Litsch, Dustin McGowan and eventually Luis Perez, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchinson. I'd still go out and get a veteran or three to stash in Buffalo. Experience is supposed to be a great teacher. The offence in Buffalo would be a bit thin. Yan Gomes, David Cooper, Sierra ... the New Hampshire grads from the team that had a losing record. Depending on how quickly the High A class could move, moving the AA crop up ahead of them, the talent stream might be a bit better than mediocre. High tides raise all boats in all. But I'd be spending some money on veteran free agents willing to wait in Buffalo. This year's injury history might attract some good ol' old guys.

What's REALLY going to happen this off-season. I suspect some of that Angel pitching is headed to Toronto. I still think Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Arizona all have stuff Toronto wants and Toronto, for sure, has stuff they want. i keep thinking Washington and the Mets are also trade partner candidates. The Blue Jays DO have one big signing in them, but it will be just one and the rest of the replacements will come via trade. I expect Lind, Rasmus and Escobar to stay. Drat!! As much as they want to see D'Arnaud get some more time in Buffalo to prevent being a Super Two, I just think this off-season is the time to maximize the return on Arencibia. So, he DOES move. Romero stays, of course. But the acquisition of an Angel hurler or two, plus maybe Masterson or Jackson isn't an option, it's a requirement. And if Alvarez starts opening week, it won't break my heart. I STILL believe in him. I don't think Toronto will be in play for Josh Hamilton and I hope desperately Nick Swisher to Toronto never appears. He's the next Jason Werth. On the other hand, his wife is a knockout. Hmmmmm.

My probable Blue Jay line-up in April? D'Arnaud, Ike Davis, Hechavarria, Escobar, Lawrie, Hunter, Rasmus and Bautista, with Encarnacion DH'ing. Davis, Lind, Mathis and a McCoy type on the bench. Morrow, Romero, Santana, Masterson or Jake Peavy, Alvarez starting. In the bullpen, Janssen, Santos, Delabar and Oliver on the back end, Loup and Happ from the left side and Lincoln from the right side. Cecil, Gose, Sierra, Gomes, Cooper et al will be in Buffalo.

Oliver is the wild card, equally likely to retire, agree to being traded to a more logical contender nearer his home town or to come back. By the way, Arencibia went to the Mets along with Dyson and a couple of prospects. ONE of the Lugnet Three along with maybe Oliver went to California for Santana and either Peavy signs for big money or Alvarez and prospects go for Masterson, leaving a spot for secondary free agent pitching being signed. Some mix of trades like that.

Important: No getting National League pitching that doesn't have a track record of success in the American League. No taking on other team's problems, whether they be psychological or injuries. And that includes Grady Sizemore, who I hope has a bit of Paul Molitor in him. Same goes for Brian Roberts. Ohh that would hurt to say no to both of them. A solid citizen, or two, have to be added. No signing on anybody, though, just for teaching purposes. In other words, no footing the bill for Omar Vizquel's farewell tour. Or a reasonable facsimile there of.

LASTLY: Trade John Farrell to Boston. I'd like one of the pitching prospects from the Dodger trade. But I think I'd accept Daniel Bard. Would Cleveland do Bard and Sierra for Choo subsequently? Might be the way to avoid having to sign Hunter. And Choo and Davis would make a good platoon. But Farrell hasn't done anything to indicate he's the new Terry Francona. With both Cleveland and Boston maybe having a hankering for their old-time employee, let's see which is willing to foot the bill. Then sign the old Terry Francona. Or elevate Brian Butterfield or Don Wakamatsu. Torey Lovullo probably follows Farrell elsewhere. But if he stays ...

All of which require Jays to "just lose, baby, just lose."

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

SPORTS: Piling On Yunel

Yunel Escobar deserves no sympathy for the mess he created for himself with his homophobic face graffiti Saturday. There's not much new that can be said about the matter, beyond my belief that Bob McCown of The Fan 590 radio network is right. Escobar should never, ever, wear the Toronto Blue Jay uniform again.

Of course, I've been stumping for that for the last half of this season, after anointing Escobar as thisclose to being an A.L. all-star candidate 12 months ago. But over the last six months, we have seen why the Atlanta Braves were willing to not only trade the talented kid to Toronto, but to disparage him on the way out the door, which is pretty rare outside of Boston in Major League Baseball.

What I have seen is selfishness, lack of concentration, a willingness to embarass teammates (I mean, who else in your memory has wandered 50 feet out of position to call off Omar Vizquel on a pop fly? That's perennial Gold Glover Omar Vizquel, a first ballot Hall of Famer) and a sub-par performer this season. Bob Elliott of The Toronto Sun notes the one instance where I started to change my point of view on the Escobar issue early in the season. He got upset at a hard sliding Baltimore Oriole and low-bridged the next runner he had a chance to intimidate. The revenge-driven throw ended up in the stands, a run scored and Escobar established his own sense of self-worth exceeded that of his team.

How about hustling to first on routine grounders? Not for Escobar, who missed out on at least one hit that I can think of. Probably more. He's been a .250 hitter all season long, despite being quite capable of hitting 25-40 points higher. The power he's shown in the past? Halved this year. And despite hot dogging and hogging, he's not on anybody's list of Gold Glove candidates this year. Seems that without babysitter Jose Bautista around full-time, the terrible tot comes out to play twerp.

So I wanted his butt on the first plane out of Toronto post-season. I had all kinds of trades envisioned for what was supposed to be a young, cost-controlled talent that could play plus defence and was a better than average offensive force for the position. I was MORE than willing to go with Adeiny Hechavarria, if trading Escobar could help net a gain in starting pitching or an upgrade at second base. All Escobar had to do was not blow up his trade value completely over the last month of this disappointing season.

And the horse's patootie couldn't do even that much.

But it does bring up a question. Is Escobar really as dumb as a brick? Or is this his deluded, self-immolating attempt to make him trade-proof? Does he love playing in Toronto SOOOO much that he's willing to do the proverbial anything to prevent Alex Anthopoulos from trading him? Hard to figure. But given the mealy-mouthed, disingenuous explanation that emanated from New York Tuesday, it's almost more comprehensible.

The debate on whether Escobar is a future Republican candidate or a clumsy liar is for the future to reveal. I suspect he's a stupid, vain athlete who was rescued from a bad situation in Atlanta and decided to repay that kindness with contempt. Contempt for gays, contempt for his teammates (culpable through lack of earlier action), contempt for his organization that pays him well, contempt for the fans of the Toronto Blue Jays and contempt for all that listened to his apology and had their intelligence insulted.

And the real tragedy, beyond the fact that he DOESN'T GET IT (and please don't ever equate employees and friends in the future, Yunel), is that he might actually be doing it to stay under the protective embrace of his good friend Jose.

I don't want him here. Toronto Blue Jay fans are in agreement. They want him gone too. IF that sounds like piling on. That he deserves it is as plain as the words on his face.

Monday, September 17, 2012

LIFE: Discounting the Enterprise experience

[Do NOT click on ANY LINK found in the comment section of this blog. No matter how innocuous the link MIGHT appear to be, it is MOST LIKELY SPAM or a link to MALWARE. I am disheartened by the need to do this, which accounts for the sparsity of posts this year.]

While it took TWO phone calls, the latter one quoting the complaint file number to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, to get Enterprise Car Rentals to finally get rid of my personal information, it took exactly ONE call to make me a happy car renter again.

Turns out Enterprise is NOT the only car rental outfit that will pick you up, despite the omni-present ad slogan that implies just the opposite. My brother Wayne laughed a little when i told him I was a bit worried about cutting my nose off to spite my face telling Enterprise to 'lose my number.' And I was the supposed smarter older brother, Wayne MUST have gotten a little satisfaction letting me know Discount picked up AND was a helluva lot cheaper than the company with the heartless customer support I had just left.

How about more than 30 percent less expensive. Yep. And it seemed everybody I dealt with was a friendly, attractive lady who made this grumpy old guy feel a bit special. So special, I sent off a letter of commendation to their boss. What follows is the text of that letter (which does include the ODD improvement idea. I'm nothing if not a nit-picker after all):


  On Thursday last week, I had my first experience renting a car from Discount Rentals. Having been an extremely dissatisfied Enterprise customer, I was more than a tad nervous in going through the whole car rental process again. My friends, aware of the Enterprise fiasco the last time I depended on their services, encouraged me to just get them to drive me around. But that seemed self-serving and I thought it necessary to at least try an Enterprise competitor to see if the whole shabby rental experience was industry-wide, or just a product of Enterprise's poor customer support.

  I am happy to report that the Discount employees have made me a monthly Discount customer for the foreseeable future. I see no reason to impose upon friends when I can get the proverbial service with a smile and a rate more than 30 percent cheaper than that of Enterprise. Indeed, that price is good enough that I can afford to do two days out and about a month, if needed. And unfortunately, I have an increasing need to see various doctors, so that might become necessary. However, I no longer am getting stressed over that possibility.

  The whole experience started the day before when I called and talked to Janice at your office. Please excuse the spelling if I have mis-spelled either her name, or that of Katrina's. Janice was a wealth of information, giving me advice on whether to book on-line, via telephone or in person, discussing the pro's and con's of doing so. She instantly made me feel like she was looking out for my best interests. By the time she was finished, i knew the costs and parameters of my best extras choices for my circumstances. (I go out about once a month, striving to do all my payment collection, banking, food-shopping and sundry store visits. Otherwise, I have everything delivered via phone or internet ordering). 

  On Thursday morning, I phoned the recommended 45 minutes in advance of my scheduled rental time and was picked up a half-hour later by Katrina. She was a confident, controlled driver and never caused me to flinch. That's rare. Traffic in Brampton is almost as bad as the insurance companies over-estimate it is. At the office, I was treated like a long-lost friend. I was on my way in a decently short period of time (I AM hoping subsequent visits will be a little quicker as you should have my information on file). The car, a Honda Civic, exceeded my expectations, which were for a box on wheels. The car performed well during the day and the air conditioning on a hot day was quick and comfortable. Thank you.

  I returned the car late Thursday afternoon, as I had said I would. My only quibble with the day was getting the gas to fill it up. I thought there was a gas station south on Kennedy as I attempted to make all right hand turns into your parking lot. But I was wrong. I ended up just opposite the old hospital getting a 'fill-up' from an attendant for $2.36, which I apologized for misusing his time. I would have preferred a self-serve for obvious reasons. I drove something around 80KM for the day and it's too bad that there isn't a pre-paid gas plan that works for short day use. 

  A couple of pleasant surprises upon returning the car. First, I was able to pay cash. I prefer to keep my credit card as empty as possible (and yes, a 6x hold is a little strong). That's a bonus worth advertising, at least on the website. The only potential issue was exact change. Not a problem for me. The second was another assured drive by Katrina, getting me home through the worst of Brampton rush-hour traffic. Again, kudos.

  My total cost for the day, gas in, was just about $57. Compare that for a day's rental from Enterprise that was $69 last September and had risen to almost $79 as of last month, getting more expensive in drips and drabs.  That $57 was less than half what CAAA wanted to charge me for a month's insurance on my 12-year old car (needing two grand in repairs) back in November. I gave up my car on Remembrance Day and have been renting since. I watched the price for that decision go up seemingly month by month at Enterprise. But having found Discount, I'm back to thinking I've made the right decision and am saving money again. 

  I do have some suggestions that I might bring to your attention. The contracts provide very, very, very small spaces for signatures. Leaving aside my own sense of the grandiose calligraphy I call a signature, the spaces are too small for all but the most petite of hands. I also found myself a LITTLE baffled by the Civic control panel. Possibly a black and white sheet with a labeled diagram of the control panel would have been welcome. One for each make? I normally refuse to touch rental car controls. I drive, park and return car as minimally changed as possible. I had a decent grasp on raising and/or lowering the temperature in the car. But the trip meter? Never looked hard, but it wasn't obvious WHERE to look. 

  In conclusion, I initially chose Enterprise due to proximity to my home and their famous slogan. I didn't KNOW other companies also picked you up. It would be worth advertising that little fact. "We pick you up with a smile and save you 30 per cent while doing so!"

  Please pass along my hearty thanks for a job well done to all the people involved in making my day a good one. 


Thursday, September 06, 2012

LIFE: Enterprise Rent-A-Car, 7-Eleven Phones PFUI!!!

[Do NOT click on ANY LINK found in the comment section of this blog. No matter how innocuous the link MIGHT appear to be, it is MOST LIKELY SPAM or a link to MALWARE. I am disheartened by the need to do this, which accounts for the sparsity of posts this year.]

Not every probem has a solution. When you are in the service industry, what makes--or breaks-- a reputation is how much effort you put into TRYING to find a solution. When you make NO effort whatsoever, you deserve every bit of bad karma you can possibly get.

Three weeks ago, I lost my phone service is the midst of losing all of my internet connection on all five computers I have here. It was a cascading failure that started with the two android tablets, first the Toshiba Thrive, then the Envizion 7. Midway through the week I lost connection through Ollie, followed by my main computer Quincy. And six days after it started, my last internet connection on Popeye went poof. Early in that sequence, I lost my house phone, which is a Vonage box that runs off the internet too. So, I was without any home phone capability from sometime early on the Tuesday to late on Saturday.

I don't blame either Vonage or Rogers for those issues. Hardware fails and some effort was put into servicing my needs at the time. Those efforts weren't entirely satisfactory, but at least they fessed up and apologized.

The other companies? Hope they don't make a profit again in my lifetime. I'd wish hell, fire and brimstone on them, but some innocent bystanders would get caught in the storm. On the other hand, if you work for the ... well let's call them armpits of service, you shouldn't be surprised when karma's a bitch.

At any rate, the first problem was the emergency phone, known as the 7-Eleven piece of crap phone, wouldn't work. Was charged, because it's kept on a charger. I knew it was on its last legs due to finding out that the company that advertises, BRAGS even, that there are no hidden charges on their pay as you go plan, was charging for access to the 911 service. And when called, stated baldly, it's required by law that they charge for the service. Ahhhh, not in Ontario they don't. As of now. In the future, maybe. But not now. And their hidden charge by the company with no hidden charges, FOURTY PERCENT MORE than any other company that also charges, without having to actually give the raised money to the government here in the province. Pure profit.

So, when I needed the emergency phone (I had used it for a total of seven minutes in 14 months of ownership), it did not work. Changed charging outlets three times over the next five days, but it never worked. Yelled at 7-Eleven when I told them (eventually) to take the phone and deposit it where the sun doesn't reflect off the screen. Checked yesterday when I was getting rid of the sim card inside. It worked then. Still ended up in the garbage. GIGO.

Okay, so, I was a bit peeved when I used one of the two still working computers to book a reservation with Enterprise on the Wednesday for the following day (To go buy a real cell phone, oh the irony). The slogan they use on all their advertising, "We'll pick you up," is omnipresent. It's the same jingle you hear ad nauseum when on hold on their 'customer support' line. But I couldn't find any place to check off I actually wanted to be picked up. I've needed picking up every time I've used the service, given the fact I surrendered my car back on Remembrance Day last year. But I finally noticed NO CHECKBOX.

So, I sent off an email saying I needed picking up and that I had NO PHONE SERVICE. No home phone, no cell phone. Could I get confirmation. I sent it to customer support at THREE hours and a bit later,  Mary replied with the boilerplate text from the website. I was expected to phone an hour in advance of my reservation to confirm pickup.

Several epithets escaped my mouth. I angrily emailed back, asking if she had read the email? Wednesday ended with no reply. But surely TWO emails back and forth with Mary at Enterprise Customer Support was sufficient to communicate the uniqueness of the situation and any customer support rep with more than 10 minutes worth of training and more than a negative amount of empathy would be doing something positive about the situation.

Thursday morning came. Still no reply from Mary. The time for pickup came. And passed. With no other option available, I did the untenable. I went across the street and woke my 87-year old, recently-widowed neighbour who is still struggling with the effects of losing her husband of more than a half-century. I watched her, still in bedclothes, come to her back door. Asked to borrow the phone. Being one of the nicest people alive she was quick to do it. And I called Enterprise, seething as I was doing it. Was I the worst guy in the world or what?

Of course the local Enterprise hadn't gotten any information from dear old Mary. "Do you want us to come get you right now?" Yes, I answered and then excused myself as quickly as possible, letting my neighbour get back to bed. I went back over to my house to await the driver from Enterprise, which is about five minutes away from me. Takes seven minutes to drive from my house back to their office, because of all left-hand turns. I waited for 43 minutes.

Turns out, 'coming to get you' is a euphemism for finding somebody to come get me ... THEN coming to get me. Since, at this stage, the locals were being apologetic and the person I was most mad at in the world, and it's a looooooooooong list, was this Mary, I decided I'd stop yelling at them. They told me a number of things:
  1. No, their email address was not published on the internet by design
  2. No, they don't WANT people to ask to be picked up, so they don't make it easy
  3. Yes, good ol' Mary COULD have forwarded the email I sent along to them or
  4. YES, ever-helpful Mary COULD have given me the private email address

At the very least, she could have replied in a timely manner to my second email that would have allowed me to CANCEL my Enterprise reservation and I could have used my email to get a buddy to play taxi driver for a day. It would have cost me some brownie points, but I've spent years accumulating them for emergencies of this nature. Seems Mary didn't do the least she could do, she'd actually found a way to do less than the least she could do.

The rest of the morning was spent shopping, spending money. Including a new cell phone from Walmart with a pay as you go plan from Virgin Mobile. Maybe not the big boys, but several steps above that crappy service from 7-Eleven. And no, just in case you are wondering, I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever step foot in one of their stores again. If you were wondering.

Half-way through my day of spend and spend, I stopped at home and found an email from the unsainted Mary had arrived. Yes she had read the email. No it didn't matter, I was responsible for finding a neighbour to call for me or to allow me to use their phone. The milk of human kindness dripped from every word she typed. I genuinely hope Mary never finds herself in the same situation as my neighbour, the one who's grief I did interrupt, because you should never wish that upon another person. It's close, but even her lack of empathy doesn't quite fill the bill. Later I tried to give my neighbour a brand new Kindle reader as a means of assuaging my guilt in the matter. But she declined.

When the day ended and I returned the car to Enterprise (Still early enough for them to rent it out again and double-book the vehicle for extra profit), I had a copy of Mary's emails available for them. The local manager offered to rebate my day's rental. I declined saying, "I pay my bills and if I accept the money, I have to stop ranting and raving. I want the charge to the credit card and I want a written apology with somebody with a title from Enterprise. I know he'll (a bit chauvinistically, i know) have his secretary do it. But I want some acknowledgement of the complete screw up that today was." I didn't ask for Mary to be fired, although I left no doubt that IF I ran Enterprise, she'd be an ex-employee five hours ago.

I got a call from Enterprise surveys on the following Monday. Enterprise didn't fare so well. But it was suggested a followup contact would come the next day. TWO WEEKS LATER, I called the local Enterprise manager ... a new guy .... surprise!!! That was last Thursday. He was supposed to pass along my desire to be an EX-Enterprise customer along to somebody higher on his red-tape chain. I got two emails from Enterprise Plus, the on-line arm of Enterprise that has my personal information AND financial info. But nobody contacted me ... and yes, I have a very much working home phone again.

Today, I called that customer support line again. Talked to Lendell and to Kyle. Told them I wanted my membership cancelled, written confirmation of same, including that Enterprise no longer had my personal information, Neither asked why. Kyle said "yes sir and thank you for selecting Enterprise Rent-A-Car." My guess? They've been through this before. Which says all that there has to be said for Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

Want to bet I'll have to sic a lawyer on them to get the written confirmation they've deleted my personal information from their computers? I do to. 

Next Thursday, when I have to go to the doctors amongst other places, I will be using Budget Rent-A-Car. What I didn't know when I first selected Enterprise, was that their slogan is not all that unique. Just about all the car companies do that now. Sure, like Enterprise, they'd prefer I didn't ask to be picked up, but at least they charge 25 percent less than the company with the slogan. New Enterprise slogan? "We charge more for less."

E for effort, Enterprise and 7-Eleven. You don't care. I'm just one customer who doesn't make the barest dent in your bottom line. But at least the three readers of this blog have now been forewarned. Maybe they'll tell enough people, who'll tell enough people, etc. Karma has a funny way of making things like that happen.