Saturday, May 28, 2011

Patience. Perseverance... Because Uhaul Needs an Overhaul and So Do I

I like to make plans. I like things spelled out, booked in advance, arranged, reserved, and promised--at least with big things. This week I have planned quite a bit: a car repair, completing certain work, preparing for travel, moving a step-daughter into her new home. On Wednesday, things did not go as planned, however. This is a long post today, by the way. I am warning you. Break it up. Get coffee.

I brought my vehicle in for repairs--major repairs costing about $1400. I was told I would have my truck back in time to pick up the youngest from school. I brought my laptop and a book to a cafe near the repair shop and settled in to read, write, and conduct online chores. Things started to fall apart around early afternoon when I had problems making reservations with Uhaul. First of all, short notice reservations cannot be made online. So then I attempted to dial the 1-800 number for Uhaul, which is this: 1-800-UHAUL. I have a Blackberry which has a number pad limited to the following letters: W, E,R,S,D,F,Z,X,C. How was I supposed to dial this? I borrowed the cell phone of the guy next to me for a clue as to which numbers spelled out UHAUL and then dialed from my phone. Busy. Busy again. Still busy. In desperation, I tried online to load the pages for Penske and Ryder, both of which had server problems and would not allow reservations pages to be loaded. I resorted back to Uhaul and began calling offices directly. I had to call three offices. Each time, the process went like this:

Dial number.
Listen to phone tree.
Press number to reservations line.
Get put on hold.
Get warm body who cannot answer availability questions directly.
Give name.
Give phone number.
Give email.
Give reservation dates.
Give itinerary.
Request truck size.
Get denied due to no trucks at that location.

So let me repeat that I went through this for three different locations before someone finally gave me a 1-888 number to Uhaul. This number had actual numbers in it. That process went as follows:

Dial number.
Warm body that answers phone on second ring shocks me into silence.
Explain problem of trying to find truck.
In the middle of the clerk trying to find me a truck, husband dials three times to get my attention and says to change it to trailer.
I request trailer.
Clerk, without explaining what he's doing, transfers me to a shop near my home I have already spoken to.
Connection leaps into the new phone tree without my being able to say, "STOP. COME BACK!"
Put on hold.
Warm body answers.
Give name, phone number, email, reservation request.
She confirms my reservation and takes my credit card number, but cannot guarantee what office will have the damn trailer. Someone will call me back before 6 PM.

As I hung up, a new problem arose. My mechanic called with news that my truck would be in the shop till the next day and he needed to get me a rental car. This is not an option, I explained. I needed to be leaving to get my son from school at that very minute. I called a neighbor, but she couldn't promise anything right away. If I called a cab, the cab wouldn't come for a long time. My other neighbors would not be home. I had no one else in this city to call, which is freaking typical, because I have lived here only two years. My aunt and uncle live in the 'burbs too far to assist on short notice. My husband, swamped as he is, agreed to come rescue me and arrived like a knight in shining green Jeep. (By the time the neighbor was free to pick me up, my husband had already left the office.) We went immediately to pick up my son, where the teachers kept him after school for me. The emergency message  my daughter's school principal promised to deliver never arrived before she boarded the bus, but my daughter was smart enough to wait at a neighbor's till we got home. My husband carried my sleeping boy inside and tucked him into bed for a later afternoon nap, then returned to work.

As promised, someone did call me back and guaranteed me a trailer at a location in the suburbs. I asked if this could be delivered to the Uhaul closest to me, but she snapped, "No, I cannot close my shop to deliver this for you." Please hold on a moment while I shove my phone where the sun doesn't shine. Worse, as a person who cannot and should not skip meals, I did not get to eat lunch until 4 PM because I was so busy with phone chaos.

So one night this week we will  have spent loading the trailer while my kids watch a movie in my truck because I will have had no sitter for that night. The couch I have promised my lovely Mae turns out to be the hideous plaid one because the nice one, which my husband graciously lent to a former employee, was given away without his permission. I cancelled every appointment I had for the next two days because the being car-less screwed up my week entirely.

So while I sit writing, my kids are fighting over who gets to play the piano. My son is playing the spoons while he argues. The dog is at my feet with her head under the coffee table trying to stay out of the marching and chaos. And I am so tired I need coffee, but a third cup will make my heart beat a bit irregularly. The day is almost done--I wonder what tomorrow will bring. A cousin's Facebook post reminds me how I should face the new dawn: Patience. Perseverance. A positive attitude. (So, yeah, as my husband's ex-wife would say so sweetly but sardonically, how nice for you.)

Somehow, after grouching at my children for the frustrations of the day, at their lack of reason and wherewithall to cooperate and function like decent family members, my son leapt half-naked into my arms and exclaimed his great affection for me. I melted--for five minutes--and went back to cracking the whip.

Patience. Perseverance. But I still think I need an attitude adjustment.

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