Monday, May 30, 2011

The Pilgramage

Clint & I met at PATH.  We board the train more or less on time.  So far so good, then it starts.   Google fails us.

Google routes us through the Grove Street station which might be fine (or even optimal) for people not carrying 50 pounds of dive gear, but we are.  We reach Avis sweaty but happy.

Reaching the front of the line, we overhear a customer expressing dissatisfaction with the treatment received.   I think he's probably oversensitive.  I was wrong.

Cerberus, the Avis representative, greets us and let us know exactly where we stood.  First, we learn the Avis requirements:
  • All drivers must possess valid credit cards.  Names on Driver's License and Credit Card must agree exactly.
  • Cards must be credit cards NOT debit cards.  The word debit must appear nowhere on the card.
Avis may try harder but I'm not sure at what.  Certainly not at giving their customers a pleasant experience.

Those of you who, like me, use their middle rather than first name may anticipate a problem.  No one other than Uncle Sam and the state of New York has ever called me Charles (and even Uncle Sam accepts payments from Leonard Berman); however, both my passport and driver's license list Charles as my name.  My credit cards are in the name of Leonard Berman.  In the post-9/11 world, lots of organizations check IDs.  Personally, I think this is unlikely to prevent the next terrorist attack but it certainly  reminds us to worry.  Airlines require that your name on the passenger manifest agree with your name on your government issues ID, but even they understand that sometimes reason must trump regulation.  Not so Avis.  (By the way, I had asked about exactly this problem when making the reservation by phone.)

Cerberus made it quite clear: there was no way that a person, with such suspicious documentation, would be permitted to get their hands on Avis' assets.  I could neither rent nor drive an Avis car.

No problem, we think.  Clint can rent and drive.  Google says its an eleven hour drive but Clint is young and a week of wreck diving beckons.  Not to be daunted, Clint hands over  his 21st century credit card to the Avis.  Unfortunately, the card is a 21st century card which can be used both as credit and debit card, and is thus, not acceptable.  Cerberus smiles and returns the card.  Fear and loathing in Las Vegas flashes through my mind.

I am beginning to loose site of the silver lining when Clint remembers that he actually still carries a 20th century credit card on which he has some too good to be true 0% interest deal.  It is acceptable, he hands it over, data is entered, REJECTED!  Cerberus smiles and returns the card.  I feel a touch of panic, but to make a long story short, Clint, the eternal optimist, calls the card company, extends his credit, and Voila.  We are off, two hours late but on our way.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Time Marches On

My second Sea Gypsies meeting has come and gone.  The first of the post-Hello Kitty era.  A Guinness, a meal, a talk, an evening shared around a common interest.  Some might call it religion.  Next week is my first pilgrimage: North Carolina for 5 days among the wrecks.  Poseidon, keep the wrecks below and the divers straight.  Amen.

Ten of us drive to N.C., sleep in a bunkhouse, and jump off a boat.  Is this a second childhood or what?

And, for the first journey of the post-Hello Kitty era, Janet and I have decided on two months in Vietnam.  We will visit Mark and Thuy and their new baby in Hanoi, and tour the land I spent years of my youth avoiding.  This is the upside of Hello's passing.  We miss her, but we are freer.

So I am back to work, planning another trip.  Seems like that's my main occupation.  Hunker down with my trusty old computer and plan away.  Travelling is educational: seeing new things, new ways of getting through life, perhaps learning something; or perhaps not, perhaps just having fun.  Maybe life is like Certs: not just one thing.

And before Vietnam is the summer in Barcelona and my experiment with volunteering to count fish.  A new experience.  I wonder if this means I am dissatisfied.  After all, if I were satisfied wouldn't I want to do what I have been doing and I seem to prefer something a bit different.  Shouldn't I be developing a skill (well, I am: diving) which is useful.  I imagine my next career as a dive instructor and even I smile.  But, aside from age, why not.

We shall see.