As usual, nothing I do is ever dull. It all started with the set up for the CIRAS rental car professional certification program, which I was leading at the Auto Rental Summit, Nov. 10-11 in Hollywood, Fla.
To Auto Rental News’ credit, the team did an awesome job as usual. The sessions went off without a hitch, and all who attended not only came away with ways to improve their business, but also had an opportunity to hone their skills in workshops and seminars.
But my journey to the conference was the beginning of another story, which shall be remembered in the halls of my seminars for years to come.
I scheduled my flight from Charlotte, N.C., to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., so I could get lunch with my wife, catch my flight at 1:15 p.m., change planes in Atlanta and arrive at the hotel by 5:30 p.m. So far, so good.
I arrived at the airport with plenty of time to leisurely check in, go through TSA screening, maybe grab another cup of coffee and board my airplane with no stress ... or so I thought.
I took out my wallet and couldn’t find my driver’s license. OK, but I always carry my passport and a South Carolina picture ID, which I just remembered were sitting on my desk, nice and snug, where I forgot them.
So, I told the lady behind the counter that I had to go find my license and asked her to reschedule my flights. She asked me if I had any other forms of picture ID. I did! My Sam’s Club card. She said I could use that as long as I had another government-issued ID. I did! My fishing license.
While in line at the TSA checkpoint, I thought, “No freakin’ way that I’m getting on an airplane.” Thirty minutes later, I’m on the airplane pushing back from the gate.
We sat for a few minutes and then the pilot came on the intercom to tell us he could not start one of the engines (now that is pretty important), so we were waiting to be towed back to the gate. But not to worry, the pilot said. A mechanic was going to look at it and we should be on the way shortly.
An hour later, we were told that a different mechanic and the needed part were being flown in from Atlanta. We were told to deplane and get rebooked on a different flight.
By now, it was 3:30 and my connecting flight in Atlanta was supposed to leave at 3:50. I wasn’t going to make it in time. But the airline rebooked my flights.
Unfortunately, my new flight was all the way down the concourse and it was almost done boarding. The counter agent told me that I had better run. I asked her if I looked like a runner. Rather than answer my question, she picked up the phone, called the other gate and told them not to close the door until I got there.
I made it to Atlanta but had a 4 ½-hour layover. After all the stress, I wanted a nice cold beer. So I walked into the Sam Adams pub and ordered a sandwich and a beer. The waitress then asked to see my driver’s license. I said, “Really? Do I look under 21?” She responded, “Sorry I have to see your driver’s license.”
I offered her my Sam’s Club card and my fishing license and even pointed to my gray hair, but those weren’t good enough. I went to another restaurant, and nope, same thing. So I had a cola instead. NO BEER!
So I get to Florida … finally. No driver’s license meant no rental car, so after a rather uneventful and expensive cab ride, I arrived at the hotel around midnight.
At the counter, I told the young man my name and that I was checking in. He said, “Yes, sir! I have your reservation right here. Can I have your credit card and driver’s license, please?” … Really?