It’s taken me over 2 weeks to cool off enough in order to write about my ‘lil mishap in Florida over Spring Break.  It will take much longer before Olivia is able to convince (read: teenage manipulate) me again to go on a “girl’s vacation.”  My idea of a girl’s vacation varies grossly from whatever she was thinking.

While I really like Liv’s best friend and her best friend’s mother, it is difficult to share a vacation with others, as we are all undoubtedly aware.  Trying to align interests, relaxation styles, spending habits, Final Four Buckeyes viewing, how much talking is permissible before coming up for air…it’s all very tricky.  Requires patience.

(Fine, yes.  I could end this post here and enough would be said, for my idea of patience also varies grossly from its actual definition.)

So, Florida.  Liv and I arrive roughly 6 hours after the other two.  They pick us up in my rental car at the Advantage-Rent-A-Car kiosk, which is in a strip plaza about 3 miles away from the airport.  It’s roughly 8:45pm, and I’m spent from watching Liv ignore me the last several hours. 

Immediately after descending the shuttle bus steps, I am greeted with, “Um, Beth, I need you to fix this.  Instead of the $350 it was supposed to cost for the rental car, it’s now around $900.”  Apparently the employee who came up from down south (?) and normally doesn’t work at this location strong-armed her into taking the unnecessary insurance.  The infamous insurance scam, as if there is just one.  Oh, and a couple of tanks of gas were added for convenience.  $6.18 a gallon is nothing if not convenient.  The usually-not-there employee indicated she could easily remove these options once I arrived if we decided against them, presumably also in the name of convenience.

I explain, calmly at first, what needs to occur.  Please remove this insurance which we do not need, add me as driver (we’ll pay the extra $10 bucks a day) and if you can, please also remove the 36 gallons of convenient fuel.

No, I can’t do that I’m afraid, says VeJa (Vee-Jay). 

This is going nowhere quickly.  Oh I think you can VeJa and yes, be very afraid.

“Why not?”  I ask, still maintaining a semblance of composure.

Because it would require closing this entire reservation which would cost you another $200 security deposit, then reopening a new reservation which would also require a $200 security deposit.

VeJa and I were locked in a two-fold battle:  as tired as I was, as dry as my contacts were, I was not about to blink. 

Do you understand, ma’am, that if you don’t have USAA or State Farm Insurance that, should you get in a wreck, it will cost you over $10,000 to…blah, blah, blabbety blah…and do you have USAA or State…

“Ok.  Here’s the deal.  It will NOT cost us one penny more.  We are NOT paying the insurance you, or some impostor Southerner employee, forcefully and unnecessarily talked my friend into purchasing.  Do you understand?  Because if you don’t understand, understand this:  I will stand outside of this drug ring front and make such a scene for these incoming renters to see that they will shuttle on over to Avis and you will need to call the police and have me incarcerated for disturbing the peace.”

I understand (no “ma’am” anymore and I’m using the eyes in the back of my head now).  But I really can’t do this tonight because my computer won’t allow me.  It just won’t.  Do you know how computers work at all?

[Like toothpicks are holding my eyelids open]

Here is the phone number of my Regional Manager.  His cell phone number.  You can call him in the morning and he will take care of this for you.

With that, I ride shotgun back to my hotel and can’t think of any other place I’d rather be.

I call the Regional Manager in the morning, poolside, Mich Ultra in hand.

VeJa told me all about this.  What would you like me to do exactly?

I exactly tell him.  Succinctly, reasonably, nicely even.

We can’t do that.  It would require another security deposit and furthermore if you were to get in a wreck and unless you have USAA…

“I have had it.  I am on vacation.  You are interrupting it.  Your idea and my idea of taking care of this as VeJa said you would….not the same.”

I don’t know why he would have said that.

“I don’t know either, Mike, and I really don’t care.  What I care about is that you are causing me to lose my patience and neither of us can afford for that to happen right now.  You and I both know that what your not-usually-there employee told my friend was borderline fraudulent.”

Are you threatening me, ma’am?

“Not yet, Mike, no.”

(Raising his voice…as I’m raising my game)  Well then WHAT would you like me to do?

“Same thing I answered when you asked me the first time.  Your not-usually-there employee told my friend she could opt to remove the incontestably extraneous insurance once I arrived if we decided against it and, if you pull up the original reservation, you will see that it is not on there.”

Well I’m not sure why she would have said that either.

“So what I hear you really saying, Mike, is that this is your fault?”

What?  My fault?

“For improperly training your employees.”

(Yelling now…)  I don’t know WHAT you want from me!  I don’t KNOW!  But if you come back to our location, ask for Sam and bring your original contract, we will start over and remove the insurance.

“We’ll be there at 5:30.”

—————————

We arrive at 5:30 that afternoon and all goes shockingly smoothly.  Sam is nice-ish, handling the barrage of questions I throw at him for clarification purposes rather patiently. 

So sir, I highly recommend you do NOT turn down the insurance because it would cost you $10,000 if you were to wreck…and do you have USAA or State Farm…

“Helloooo (in my best Jerry to Newman impression) VeJa.”

Ladies.  Did you get everything taken care of?

“You Mothe…Yes, we did.”

You’re all set.  Have fun the rest of your vacation and see you Tuesday.

“Thanks, Sam.  See you then.  <fire him>”

With our chests puffed out, we strut back to the Toyota Camry.  No matter that we just made an unnecessary trip back to the airport less than 24 hours after Liv and I arrived.  No matter t’all.  No insurance at all.  No worries at all.  Off to dinner we went.

The rest of our trip was as expected.  I ran in the mornings, came back to the ridiculously too-small- for-four-females room, showered off the Florida sweat, put my suit on, grabbed my books and headed to the beach.

By Monday morning, I was counting the hours until our Tuesday afternoon flight back home.  I’d had enough sun, the Buckeyes had lost, and I…I was just ready.  The girls asked if we could go to Busch Gardens through closing time.  Sure, why not.  What’s another $100 bucks at this point?  Especially after we saved a ton at Advantage.

The park closed at 7:00.  I was taking back seat driving instructions from a 15-year old who consulted her iPhone for directions to the closest Mexican restaurant.  The music in the car was loud and the conversation coming my way was even louder.  Going home tomorrow, going home tomorrow…

SMACK! into the car in front of us I collide.  There is NO way that just happened.  None.  Are you _______________________________kidding me?

Ha!  I guess VeJa was right about that insurance, huh, Beth?!?

There is NO way she just said that.  There is no Murphy.  There is no Law. 

And thankfully…there is no damage.  Whew.  Dodged a bullet, an almost drug addiction and an involuntary manslaughter conviction on that one.

The kid who gets out of the car is just that – a preppy 22-year old wearing Sperry’s, a yellow polo with the collar flipped up, and some plaid shorts.  He’s driving a brand new Camaro his Daddy just bought him which I’m certain is usually parked in their driveway next to the family yacht.  I half expected Rodney Dangerfield to pop out of the trunk.

“Sorry.  We’re good here, right?”

Um, well, yeah, there’s like, no damage, so um, I guess so.

“Thanks, sorry about that.”

But I’m gonna need something from you.   I mean, like your insurance information.

“I’m on vacation.  We’re leaving tomorrow.  Here is my business card and cell phone number.  Call if you have any issues, but I’m sure you won’t.”

We drive away.  The car is silent until I burst into hysterical laughter.  Oh yeah, I’m definitely on the other side of my there’s no going back.  Until my phone rings and it’s Sack Lodge.

Hello, ma’am, this is Chris.  I’m gonna need you to text me a picture of your Driver’s License and Registration.

(Whatever) “Chris, when I get back home tomorrow night, I will text you my insurance agent’s name and policy number and they’ll handle it, mmm-k?  After all, that’s what insurance is for.”

I spoke to him again briefly the next day.  He assures me during that conversation there is “no internal damage.”  His family butler had crawled under the vehicle to take a peek.  No worries.  Nothing to see here.

Oh, except this:

I can’t wait to see my Mother’s Day present this year.