see my hopes way up there? teetering?

          Today, I was informed that my vehicle is being held in the port of LA/customs because it's a 2015 model.  According to the salesman (who I'm beginning to despise rather than just think about the same way I do all people who sell for a living: with disdain) since the 2015 models are not authorized to be delivered yet, it will not be trucked north for an undetermined amount of time.

          I ordered a 2014.  I've been told the 2015 is the same as the 2014 and that the only difference between them is a digit in the VIN number.  I'm still... what's the word? ...pissy.  That fits.  Color me pissy and skeptical (because sales guy is an idiot).

5 reasons why you should avoid Enterprise, National, Alamo Car Rental

          I resigned from ERAC / EAN Holdings (the parent company of Enterprise, Alamo, and National car rental agencies) after ten weeks working as a service agent at their Portland, Oregon, airport (PDX) locations.

          Are you looking for work?  I advise you to seek employment elsewhere.  Many of these reasons are systemic or intrinsic to EAN Holdings policy and are not limited to the PDX area.

          Maybe you are considering renting a vehicle and would like to be more informed.  Here are five reasons why you should never rent from Enterprise, Alamo, or National car rental agencies:

          1.  Safety is never first.  If a vehicle has a 'low tire pressure' indicator light on the dash the policy is to fill the low tire(s) and rent.  Service agents never inspect low tires for damage unless a nail is so large it's impossible to miss or a leak so fast the tire won't hold air.  Service agents never refill the windshield washer fluid until the reservoir is empty and either a customer or indicator light informs someone.
          Normal preventative maintenance (oil change, rotate tires, etc) is done when the manual recommends except when a large demand for vehicles occurs (every holiday, busy weekends, etc) then side-lined vehicles are rented without being maintained.
          Service equipment (gas pumps, vacuums, car washes, etc) are in a constant state of disrepair.  For example:  the automatic shut-off valve on the gas-hose nozzles don't always function.  I got my clothes soaked with gasoline once (and they don't issue sufficient uniforms nor provide laundry service).  I witnessed at least one "accidental" overflow every week and learned from a co-worker that small spills (less than 10 gallons) which everyone had caused/witnessed were inconsequential compared to his largest.  He claimed that once he set a gas nozzle to fill a car, went to lunch, and returned after 30 minutes to at least 100 gallons of gasoline "accidentally" spilled into the environment, storm drain, his work space.  (And no, neither OSHA nor the EPA were informed as the law requires.  EAN does not abide by any law that would slow work or cost them money.)

          2.  EAN Holdings unlawfully discriminates against employees with disabilities.  Under the Americans with Disabilites Act, it is the right of every disabled employee to inform their employer of their disability and request they make reasonable accommodations; the employer is legally required to make the accommodation if it does not impose an undue hardship on them.
          I'm a person with Aspergers (now called Autism Spectrum Disorder) and felt very stressed by some of EAN Holdings scheduling policies.  Not only how they handled ten-minute breaks and lunches, but how I (everyone) was, at times, scheduled to work until closing (either midnight or 1 a.m.) and then scheduled a morning shift the next day.  Employees rarely work the same shift.  In a normal five day work-week I was scheduled to begin at four different times.
          I informed the head manager as well as both supervisors of my disability and requested they make some scheduling accommodations to reduce my stress.  From that day on I was scorned, put off, talked down to, and treated disdainfully by every manager and supervisor.  For many weeks, whenever I would mention the unaddressed request to my chain-of-command, they told me they were "still looking in to it."  This refusal to accommodate my request was—ultimately—the final straw which caused me to resign.

          3.  Enterprise doesn't care about their employees, only about increasing company profit.  When I began working hourly for National/Alamo in January, both were union companies.  I and all of my co-workers (some of whom serviced cars for their entire adult lives) were 40 hour-a-week full time employees eligible for 1.5x overtime pay, holiday pay, vacation pay, med/dental benefits, 401K, life insurance, etc.
          However, Enterprise's hourly employees aren't unionized and—consequently—are all part time.  They each are scheduled to work less than 32 hours a week and are eligible for no benefits except those mandated by law.  All Enterprise hourly employees are youth who live at home/go to school, adults working a second job, or seniors augmenting their pensions/social security.
          Although the exact same cars are driven in-to and out-of our respective service islands (every day I cleaned cars rented by Enterprise and their service agents cleaned cars rented by National and Alamo) we never worked together at the same service islands, and did not share break rooms, supplies, or equipment. 
          In early March, the contract between the Teamsters Union and EAN Holdings expired.  National and Alamo hourly/union employees have been working without a contract since then.  Negotiations are now considered "stalled."  EAN Holdings wants to eliminate the union and make all National and Alamo hourly employees part-time with no benefits like their Enterprise hourly employees.  Obviously, the union wants to increase the benefits for their members without going on strike.  They are at an impasse.  Before I resigned the shop steward informed me, "it doesn't look good for the union."
          This was the penultimate reason for my resignation.  I wanted to be the first rat off the sinking ship.  I enjoy working outside, listening to music all day while I clean cars.  I quickly got hired to do the exact same job (in the exact same union) at a competing car rental company.

          4.  Everyone is either a thief or is extremely ethically challenged.  If you rent a vehicle from Enterprise, Alamo, or National and—in your rush to catch a plane—accidentally leave one of your cherished personal belongings in the trunk, under a seat, or in the glove assured it wasn't lost for long.  An employee found it and wears/uses/sold it.  There is an unenforced policy outlining how to turn-in found items.  When a lost item is found, it is supposed to be turned in to a manager and the company holds it for a few months before it is donated.  I turned-in items when I found them (almost every day), even after I discovered some of the items I had previously found had been thrown into the trash (maybe a manager called and the owners of those shoes or that jacket told him to discard them).  I witnessed so many lost items taken home by drivers, service agents, and even managers that I could not recount them all.  Some of the more noteworthy I watched people take home were:  suitcases, a sleeping bag, sporting equipment, jewelry, and watches.  Every day there would be more than one pair of sunglasses or prescription glasses found.  Umbrellas usually got thrown away immediately because locals of the Northwest don't use umbrellas, only tourists do.  The pile of cigarette lighter-to-USB chargers was so large (because most employees had stolen their fill) it had to be thrown away on a monthly basis or it would fill the found-this-but-have-no-use-for-it shelf (where I put a laptop printer six weeks before I resigned.  It probably still resides there.)

          5.  Lies, dishonesty, and 'fudging numbers' is encouraged, condoned, and incentivized.   Every supervisor lies to every subordinate (usually to encourage unsafe acts or to speed production at the expense of quality).  Every employee lies to his supervisor (usually to cover damage/mistakes, poor performance, or anything which could reduce the employee's bonus).  Every sales "rental" agent is dishonest to every customer (because their bonus is tied to selling upgrades or insurance).  Every manager fudges his numbers to his superiors (because his bonus is linked to renting every available vehicle and only keeping reserved vehicles on the lot).
          I was lied to by my manager when he hired me and every time I spoke with him after that day.  I only learned the truth about how my bonus was computed after I resigned and spoke with HR.
          I felt compelled to be dishonest to a manager because he required me to multitask in order to comply with the required number of vehicles needed (worst case: one car every 6 minutes during a three-hour period).  So I let a gasoline nozzle go unsupervised while I vacuumed only to discover one overflowing when I eventually smelled fumes.  I know that I caused over ten gallons to spill on that occasion (based on how much the nozzle could dispense and how many minutes I worked without remembering to check).  When I informed my manager of the spill, his first words were, "It wasn't too bad, right?  Probably only a couple gallons?  And you cleaned it up with the spill response kit?"  I gave him the answers he wanted to hear.  My third "yes" was mostly true.  I tried to clean it all up.  Except for the large amount that floated on a nearby stagnant puddle, which drained into a nearby green space and storm drain.  Absorbing several gallons of gas floating on 300 gallons of ditch-puddle water is impossible to accomplish with three carbon pillows and a few dozen carbon pads.
           I assisted several times in fudging management's numbers by moving cars where I was told to move them.  They were ready to rent, serviced and "clean" (no EAN cars are ever really clean after they have more than 3,000 miles or so—that's not possible in less than 6 minutes).  I moved them into storage/maintenance lots so they could tell their supervisors that their lots were empty.
          I witnessed rental agents lie to customers every day.  The local favorite is, "You really should get the additional insurance because if you're in an accident, say, and weren't nearby, so had to get it towed to a shop in a small town; without the additional coverage, the entire time the car is being repaired you'd be liable for the daily rental, which could be weeks!  You don't want to be liable for weeks of rental while it's being repaired do you?"  A lie that many, many, people fall for.

          Not every car rented by Enterprise, Alamo, or National is unsafe and dirty—any more than every EAN employee is a liar, a thief, and/or discriminates against people with disabilities and behaves immorally or unethically.

          Why should you apply to work for a company like this?

          Why would you do any business with a company like this?

          I personally know of at least two rental car companies who don't permit any of these behaviors and which will terminate an employee who steals, lies, allows or performs unsafe acts, discriminates, or behaves in an unethical manner.  Take your business or job application to a company with good business practices.  If you think I must be just a disgruntled employee and choose to not follow my advice...don't say I didn't try to warn you.

It's 11:11 (that's 2311 for Europeans) do you know where your superstition is?

          This is something I did, do, and will do again: re-read, re-post, and re-comment.  I wrote this four years ago.  It contains the required number (for me) of *bing* elements, which I—now—include in the title.  The bookends work.  My beginning, middle and ending flow in a succinct-enough fashion to warrant another look, and I recall the mentioned rapscallion didn't understand my title's double entendre, which made me feel old when I explained my childhood television's curfew question.

          The sentence—I'm proud that I am smart enough to not have any superstitious beliefs—is vainglorious and condescending; but, it's also true.  A few months ago, I had a brief conversation about ghosts with our resident rapscallion (my paramour's teenage son).  All conversations with youth are brief, so this one might almost count as a lengthy one.  We were watching TV, and I was jumping over a commercial logjam in 30sec hops with the DVR remote (for unaware Europeans: American TV has a few-minutes of commercials every ten minutes).  My last hop advanced into the show, so I made a couple 10sec back-jumps and we watched a portion of a commercial for one of those shows where a group of people walk around at night, with night vision cameras, in old buildings (for unaware Europeans: most Americans think one-hundred year old buildings are ancient).

"Do you believe in ghosts?"
"No."  I said (as I paused the TV).
"So, ummm, what do you think happens after you die?" 
"Where were you before you were born?" (My default teach-a-teenager position has become—answer a question with a question.  It can, occasionally, cause an additional sentence to be added to the conversation.)
"So, like, that's it?  Nothingness?"
"You almost sound upset."
"Well, it's kinda know...blip and we're done."
"I'm not telling you what to believe.  You can pick from dozens of religions that say you go someplace magical.  Also, if you want to think ghosts move old dusty chairs in basements of derelict buildings or float around as orbs...well, that's your prerog™."  (Clipping a suffixplus is kinda lame, but I get a kick when he repeats them.  In a month I'll overhear him with a friend playing Guitar Hero, "If you don't wanna use the mic while I play guitar that's your prerog bitch.")
"But you don't.  And you're happy with that."
"Not only am I content with 'blip and we're done' (as I said blip I snapped my fingers) I'm amazed and confused by anyone who wants and believes their existence to be infinite and forever."
"Amazed and confused—isn't that a Led Zep..."
"Dazed and confused is Zep.  Amazed and confused is Neil Diamond."
"You sure?"
"About the song titles...yes."

          This conversation got me thinking about my lack of superstitious beliefs.  I realized that I do have one thing which can only be explained as superstitious ideation.  It also could just be a big coincidence (I once had a co-worker who said there were no such things as coincidences, but I think he might have been superstitious).

          Almost every time-telling device in my possession, or around our home, is digital.  I don't wear a watch (and haven't for many years).  Since I don't live a life of deadlines, schedules, or appointments (and haven't for many years) I'm usually not concerned with knowing what time it is.  This lack of concern results in my not looking at the digits on the stove or the front of the DVR.  I can answer my cell, talk, and hang up...all without looking at the time.  I probably check the time about six times a day.

          I usually need a strong reason to look at a clock.  If I'm woken and it's still dark out, I'll point my eyes at the digits on the nightstand.  If someone rings our doorbell at night, the clock will tell me if it's too late for our resident rapscallion to have visitors.  If I've been reading for hours and wonder if I could squeeze in another hundred pages, I'll let those same digits on the nightstand decide.  If I'm hungry, but we have dinner plans this evening, the digits inform me if a snack is necessary.  A round of golf could take 4 hours.  The film starts at 5:45.  The store closes at 9.  Even in my lackadaisical life there are reasons to look at the time.

          Lately (and by that I mean for the last several months) when I do, it seems, more-often-than-not, the digits are all the same.  An inordinate amount of the time, when I check the time, it is either 1:11, 2:22, 3:33, 4:44, 5:55, or 11:11.  And I read somewhere, enough years ago that I've forgotten when and where, that when that happens regularly it means something important is going to happen—and, that something is going to either be fortuitously good or viciously evil (I also forget which).

          I'm not saying that every time I check a clock it's always all-same-numeral time.  But out of a possible 720 different minutes in every 12-hour period, there are six times it occurs (for unaware Europeans: Americans use a.m. and p.m. instead of the 24-hour clock).  That's a dozen opportunities out of every day, or—to be specific—only a 0.83% chance for it to happen every day.

          I woke up at 4:44 to use the bathroom last night.  My landlord had people clean-out the rain gutters today; they arrived at 11:11.  I can go a day or three without it happening, but it's so frequent that I've begun to seriously wonder at the odds.

          If I was completely non-superstitious, I wouldn't even notice if I sat down to watch TV at 5:55 or went to bed at 1:11.  But since I can't seem to stop noticing it happen, I must be a little superstitious.

          [After writing this essay, I began to look for appropriate images and, in so doing, discovered more than a few e-groups discussing the 'phenomenon' as communications from the other side or somesuch.  They were a comfort to read, because then I realized that all I'm doing is pattern-recognizing.  If I see it's 10:52, I immediately forget the time and note to myself, "almost eleven."  But when I started the car last week and it was 2:22—that immediately got saved in long term memory because it's a signpost, of course!]

          AAAhhhh me.  Once again a superstitiousless idiot.

Security is mostly a superstition.  It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.  Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.  Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. — Helen Keller (blind and deaf author-activist)

tched chickens, three un...

          This is (but shouldn't be) still considered counting one's chickens. approved; VIN number in hand (the first 5 letters of which are: WMEEK I do naught shite ye); insurance prearranged; and not hurricane season (nothing to capsize a cargo ship in the Caribbean).  So unless—while unloading the ship or loading the truck, someone tries to carry too many smarts at one time, happens to drop mine and then accidentally steps on it—my chicken is quite successfully pecking a hole through its shell.

          Accordingly, I designed this custom badge from GoBadges to replace my factory smart-logo because, although I understand why someone would want (nay, need) to keep the emblem and model on their Toyota/Hyundai/Ford/Chevy/Honda/Chrysler/Mitsubishi in order to readily identify theirs, in a parking lot full of similar, generic, mid-sized sedans—I don't think that's going to be an issue I have to contend with.  (If you look close, you may notice I gave the snapperhead logo a teeny-tiny facelift).