Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lessons on the road

Lily, me and Peanut at Ha Ha Tonka state park

I am back from my road trip to Missouri with Lily.  We wanted to take a week before she started her jobs to visit my family.  It was great having the time to visit and relax, Mother's day found the whole family at grandma's, and that was a rare and special occasion.

   We decided to take two days to drive back, so I booked a motel halfway with a pet friendly room for Peanut, our canine travelling companion.  By taking two days, we were able to leave later in the day, so we arrived at our motel about 6pm.  I was just dozing off around 10 when the motel manager called the room and asked if I had a dog in there, I said yes I had reserved a pet friendly room. He started yelling at me that the room was not a pet friendly room, and he was billing me an extra $100 for cleaning the room. He even said he had me on tape. That creeped me out and I wondered if the cameras were spying on me in our room.
   Needless to say I didn't sleep well that night, and we were on our way by 5 am the next morning.  I tried calling customer care at the number where I made my reservations, and they were unhelpful, to say the least.  I was pretty disgruntled as I headed back  north, through Des Moines, and only about three hours from Minneapolis, my speedometer dropped to zero and I pulled off at the very next exit, which had a wayside rest stop.  I called my mechanic at home in Ogilvie, and he said it might be the speed sensor or the alternator.  With the possibility of alternator in the picture I was not going back up on the interstate, but across from the rest stop there was a new gas station.  Both of these, the rest stop, and the  gas station were brand new since my last trip, and they were in the middle of nowhere IA.  Just minutes, I mused, from where Paul and I worked and met 31 years ago.  When I entered the gas station, I was greeted by the counter lady who asked if she could help and I asked for an auto mechanic. She handed me a card, and I called the number, not realizing it was only 8am. 
  After a short wait, the mechanic appeared and confirmed my alternator was shot. I opted for a used part if he had one at his shop.  While he went back to look, I walked the dog, played on my laptop, and wondered how much this latest incident would add to the cost of my trip. I called my insurance company and found out I no longer had roadside assist. So I was glad to have my credit card, but worried that this might add two or three hundred dollars to the already expensive trip.  I consoled myself thinking It was just a miracle that there was a gas station,  and a mechanic two miles away, and I was off the freeway. 
   It did turn out that there was a used part at the shop, and after the part was replaced and it was payment time,  the bill came to just over $100.00.   Oh my gosh I could have hugged that guy!  The whole incident had only cost us a couple of hours off our trip, and we were safe and the car was running fine down the highway.
  So as I drove and Lily and Peanut snoozed, I realized that I had been taught a lesson. The first hundred dollars was a LOT to lose for a flea bag motel and a rude host, but a hundred dollars was a very SMALL amount for the great service I recieved while stranded at the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. Not to mention, if I had tried to do the whole trip in one shot, we would have been stranded in the middle of the night somewhere in the middle of nowhere!  After feeling like customer service was dead after the motel, I found out it is alive and well in Dows, IA. 

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