Rental Car "inside scoop" - scratch and dent evaluator

        
          As a part-time "temporary" driver for Enterprise, Alamo, and National (ERAC, yes they're all one company) I've learned a few tidbits of information which could benefit those of you who rent from these agencies:

          •  Of the three sister agencies, National considers itself the top.  Accordingly, National cars are relegated to one of the other agencies as soon as they reach an arbitrary (and ever-fluctuating) "high mileage" point.

          •  National rarely, if ever, will offer mid-size, compact, or economy cars.  Unless you're looking for a specific model of luxury car or SUV (National's bread and butter) go with Alamo or Enterprise.  This guy explains how to get a deal (I don't advocate his suggestions, but it is interesting that in his mind—that of a car salesman—it's not lying, it's just being savvy).

          •  Never, never, never rent a car from any agency without performing a thorough examination of the vehicle (both inside and out).  Document every scratch, burn, dent, or ding no matter the size.

          •  Every ERAC employee knows they'll most-likely be terminated if they damage a car.  Minimum wage employees, like myself, move all vehicles from car-return areas, to the service areas, to temporary storage, from temporary storage, and back to the "ready" lines.  And we are referred to as "temp drivers" because eventually we are either hired on full-time (for being careful, conscientious, and competent) or terminated.  Most full-time ERAC employee's know better than to move a car; some managers prohibit their manager trainees and/or service associates from re-positioning cars (even from one spot to the next) because of the accident=termination policy.  If you rent a car without checking it, you risk being blamed for employee damage.        

          •  The below scratch and damage evaluator card is what employee's of ERAC use to determine if you are charged for discovered damage.  The actual card is printed on clear plastic.  I added the inches above the card so you can insure yours is to-scale.

Pogo - Lead Breakfast

          Just a reminder: Pogo is still creating fantastic music.   Head over to his channel to catch up on the latest (or—if unfamiliar—to experience something enjoyably-new).   If this "mature content" video is not your cuppa...he has a wonderful collection of Disney (I highly recommend Wishery).


Re-collecting Memories • the third dozen

1984       25         Camp Howze, Korea - SGT - decision time: reenlist? - last 3 years "for family" have been thankless - learned no skills applicable to a civilian job - rare personnel fluke permits reenlisting to retrain into the MP corps.  Finally...a career decision for myself!  Optimistic.  Eager.                 
                            Camp Howze, Korea - SP4 -  barracks is an open-bay Korean-war era quonset hut - after curfew, PFC Redbird wakes me up with his stereo - for many weeks I turn it off after he passes out (so I can sleep) - one night he turns it back on - we fight - I smash the boombox - he smashes me - I learn the folly of punching a drunk.  Bruised and beat.  Forced to replace a stereo.  Seriously reprimanded.  Three times a loser.
1985       26         Fort McClellan, Alabama - SGT - MP school - provided a hotel in Anniston, Alabama (with other sergeants) to reduce the chances of us fraternizing with the junior trainees - third week of training: a stunning private in a tight t-shirt flirts with me - we secretly meet every subsequent weekend until graduation.  Bold.  Attractive.  Exhilarated.  Desired.  
                            Fort Stewart, Georgia - SGT - I purchase a Hondamatic motorcycle - with all my post-divorce possessions strapped to it, I drive 500 miles - the skin on my arms above my normal tan receives a serious second degree sunburn.  Scarred.  Stupid.  Permanently freckled.
1986       27         Fort Stewart, Georgia - SGT - driver during a 45 minute top-speed pursuit - sheriff deputies from neighboring counties assist - recover the stolen car - no one injured (thieves escape on foot into the forest).  Unequaled adrenaline rush.  Excited.  Euphoric.
                            Fort Stewart, Georgia - SGT - break up a "bar fight" - left thigh punctured in the scuffle, about an inch deep, by a small pocket knife - in order to avoid being reprimanded (failing to thoroughly search a suspect) I tell no one about the stabbing - doctor my own leg - patch my uniform.  Sheepish.  Careless.  Lucky but dumb. 
1987       28         Yongsan, Korea - SGT - assigned investigator duties (from uniformed desk sergeant duty) - civilian clothes - unmarked vehicles - additional training - more responsibilities - less regimentation.  Proud.  Professional.  Important. 
                            Yongsan, Korea - SGT - step off a public bus in downtown Seoul - as my right foot touches the curb, I experience a migraine (or mini-stroke) - the pain lasts less than a second - knees buckle - the most excruciating burst of blazing electric white I can conceive of.  Dizzy.  Relieved.  Certain I'd have ended my own life to stop it, if it had endured for any length of time.  Frightened.      
1988       29         Yongsan, Korea - SGT - free tickets to the summer Olympics in Seoul - trackside when Florence Griffith Joyner (Flo-Jo) wins one of her gold medals.  Not present when Greg Louganis struck the diving board with his head.  Enthusiastic.  Patriotic.  Happy.
                             Yongsan, Korea - SGT - my application to become a CID agent is returned disapproved - 'derogatory background check' is the stated reason.  Crushed.  Incredulous.  Defeated (I have already turned down promotion twice to qualify for this position).
1989       30         Yongsan, Korea - SGT - granted Top Secret (TS) security clearance - FOIA request my background documents: no derog info - confused by the dichotomy, I re-apply and request an official review - approved for CID special agent school - "suspicion of adultery" was rationale for initial disapproval (based solely on the coincidence of my '85 return from Korea and subsequent divorce and my marriage to a Korean a year later).  Elated.  Persistence paid-off.  Vindicated.
                            Yongsan, Korea - SGT - a week away from departure, my extremely distressed and confused, mentally handicapped, indoor-only cat escaped from the pet carrier (as we are heading to the veterinarian) - all efforts to catch him fail - left him on the streets of Seoul.  Culpable.  Downhearted.  Glum. 
1990       31         Columbus, Georgia - SGT - pick up a wadded bill from the floor of the Fort Benning movie theater - after the film, I discover it's a fifty.  Sad for the person who lost it.  Rationalize keeping it by telling myself: 'only an idiot wads up a fifty dollar bill and jams it in their pocket'.  Fortuitous.
                            Columbus, Georgia - SGT - my unit deploys to Saudi Arabia for Desert Shield - unaccredited agents (like me) must remain behind - my new task is to efficiently terminate every "less serious" case - I close more than 80 in four weeks - admonished by the operations officer for continuing to investigate a soldier-on-civilian rape allegation - I question him - he replies, "she's just a Korean...they're all whores...close it...immediately".  Blindsided.  Aghast.  Offended.  Hamstrung by my probationary status.  Disillusioned.  
1991       32         Columbus, Georgia - SSG - double eagle (three under par) on the final par 5 of the Bradley golf course - from the white tee: average drive, middle of the fairway - perfect 3 wood second shot - slight uphill, over 250 yards, hit the flagstick - rolls in the hole for a 2.  Astonished.  Flabbergasted.  Quite pleased with my once-in-a-lifetime shot.     
                            Columbus, Georgia - SSG - attempt to repair my acrimonious eight-year estrangement with my (bigoted) immediate family - vacation in Indiana - introduce my wife of five years - no one (including me) can let bygones become water under the bridge.  Tense.  Vexed.  Ill at ease.
1992       33         Columbus, Georgia - SSG - most tumultuous year - 3 relationships (divorce, affair, marriage) - 3 assignments (personal crimes, duty team, economic crimes) - 3 schools (fraud investigations, protective services, hostage negotiations) - everything happening at once - living life in the heavily occupied vehicle lane (speeding past my peers).  Glad it all happened.  Amazed to experience/accomplish so much so fast.       
                            Columbus, Georgia - SSG - personal compass needle spinning - too much too fast - living life according to the whim of hormones and the schedule of supervisors.  Weary.  Crazy.  Glad to put it all behind.
1993       34         Mons, Belgium - WO1 - graduate from warrant officer candidate school - assigned to General Shalikashvilli's protection detail - diplomatic passport - upgraded security clearance (TS-SCI).  Enjoy the unexpected perks of constant travel.  Superior.  Elite. 
                            Mons, Belgium - WO1 - complete staff turnover - new SACEUR - all new supervisors (who've never heard the phrase: if it's not broken don't fix it).  Discouraged.  Worried.
1994       35         Mons, Belgium - WO1 - Athens and the Aegean islands, Moscow, Oslo, Florence, Venice, Garmish, Berlin, London, Amsterdam, Dresden, Lake Geneva.  Busy.  Worldly.  Amazed.  Awestruck.
                            Mons, Belgium - WO1 - Lisbon, Sarajevo, Istanbul, Livorno, Izmir, Norfolk, Harrisburg, Dijon, Ukraine.  Tired of babysitting a couple of pretentious adults.  More wary of back stabbing co-workers and fumbling foreign police than terrorists.  Concerned.  Cautious.  Disdainful.  
1995       36         Mons, Belgium - CW2 - off leash, Cody—my new dog—will heel, sit, stay, come, lie down and fetch - still working on jumping, climbing, eating only with permission and barking only on command - we run together for miles every week - always looking for new challenges to teach my new playmate.  Ecstatic when training is successful.  Happy when he's pleased.
                            Mons, Belgium - CW2 - slip on a throw rug in my living room, land on my elbow and break my left arm - surgery - metal plate - terrible hospital (almost die from a previously unknown allergy to morphine-based pain med.) - worse surgeon (sharp heads of the 8 countersunk screws aren't sunk into the plate, points of six of the screws protrude through the bone) - office flunky during rehab.  Embarrassed.  Miserable.  Bad health still about every 15-years (see 1979 and 1964).  Most stressful series of experiences.