The Rest of the Story

The Common Core curriculum seems to have become a new political hot potato here in North Dakota.Pat Merriman




And, watching the players gravitate toward their respective positions, a recent letter writer to the Dickinson Press opined that “business” is championing this latest replacement for the 3-R’s that I, and most of my literate friends, had drilled in our heads back in the 1970’s. And, unfortunately, empirical evidence would demonstrate that whatever model is being used, along with the inability to make change without a computer, “common sense” is sorely lacking among our younger citizens. Case-in-point…my latest road-trip back to Missouri and Arkansas to visit mine and my wife’s family last week.

A good rule of thumb “If the trip starts off with news that 2 family members have just been rushed to the hospital and are not expected to recover; it is going to be a BAD trip. But, soldiering on, we drove to Bismarck to fly back to KCMO, fingers crossed, only to be confronted with Bismarck Airport’s horrendous parking situation. So, if you think it’s bad at Dickinson’s airport, drive to Bismarck. At the latter facility, we met our first young metrosexual (let’s call him “Todd” [not his real name]) employed by TSA who stamped my wife’s ticket as “pre-approved” (albeit after we had to go and get our boarding passes re-printed because his scanner was ‘acting up’) while I got to do the de facto strip search. I don’t know why he couldn’t solve the problem instead of making me walk back/forth lugging my crap, but, c’est la vie. And, BAD MONKEY me, Bismarck doesn’t have the “full” TSA pre-screening thing down (like Dickinson) because I committed the mortal sin of carrying several sealed, 1 oz., 6-hour energy shots in my carry-on and my GPS was a computer which could not have the wire from the lap-top charger laying across it in the gray plastic tub. As Buffy the next TSA expert told me when I offered to just strip down, “Sir, it’s for your own safety!” Really, or is it just to hassle us so that others “feel” safer? Score at this point=Metros 2, Merrimans 0.

Moving forward to the end of the trip, my wife and I arrived at the Springfield-Branson Airport 10 minutes earlier than the 1-hour pre-departure deadline recommendation. Buffy II at baggage check-in greeted us with the cheerful news that our flight had been canceled but, no one had bothered to email or call (on our cell phones) to let us know about that. Us or the other 2 dozen travelers standing behind us. As she told us that we were scheduled to fly out “tomorrow” (the day after the States Attorney Conference started), I told her that was NOT going to work and how about finding us a flight out on another airline TODAY. Grudgingly, she sauntered over to a competitor’s kiosk and returned to tell us that we could drive 3 hours north and fly out of Kansas City (the place we started from) on the competitor’s aircraft. Of course she sniped “I didn’t cancel the flight, sir” when I asked “Missouri or Kansas?” Apparently, Buffy II did NOT know that there is a Kansas City (each with at least 1 airport located there) in both states, so, I just retorted, “No, but, you’re an employee of the airline who canceled all of us, without advance notice, so we have already checked out of our hotel and turned in our rental car. So, how about stowing the attitude.” My wife cleaned up that mess. Metros 3, Merrimans 0).

Now, I have had a less-than-intelligent conversation with 3 young metros, presumably all educated in public school, who never learned the first, most basic rule of business, i.e., The Customer is Always Right followed closely by the second—“It’s YOUR job (as the service provider) to solve customer’s problems…not theirs.” So, when I returned to the cat rental kiosk, I met with Buffy III to whom I had just delivered my rental car’s keys and contract less than 10 minutes before. Her employer had already charged me a $100 one-way fee to pick up our Nissan Altima in KCMO and deliver it back to SFG. So, I called the rental car “assistance desk” while I waited for Buffy III to appear at the desk and they assured me I could simply extend my contract, return the car to Kansas City MISSOURI and they would waive the 1-way charge. Not according to Buffy…she would have to check with her “supervisor”.

Now, keep in mind, I can walk over to the sliding door to her right and still see the rental car parked in slot 73. And, I could lean over her shoulder and see the key fob for the car on the desk sitting right next to her McDonald’s soda (yes at 7:00 in the morning). Her response, “I’m sorry but that vehicle has already been taken for maintenance and I can’t release it to you.” Say, what? It’s only been 10 minutes and the car is still sitting right there…let’s just pretend we never met and I’ll call the 800 number again. I said, “Sure you can, let’s call customer service.” She refused, charged me another $100 1-way fee and $135 later, my wife and I are driving North on MO 13 Highway. Metros=4…well, you get it.

Arriving in Bismarck 4 hours late, my wife drove off into the sunset for Killdeer while I stayed behind and drove to my hotel for the conference. As I write this, the parking garage (empty as a tomb) was flashing “lot full”. I just called Buffy IV and she said “Well, I guess you could park on the street.” Really? In Bismarck at 5 PM on a Monday? Really, where? So…I doubled parked outside to the protests of the parking attendant (I told him to perform a physically impossible act), found someone my own age at the front desk and explained the situation to her. In 10 seconds she said, “Sir, you park across the street in that private lot and I will validate your parking stub.” Turning to the young parking attendant (Let’s call him Todd II), “Todd, this gentlemen will be outside in 5 minutes, please find something to do.” I was checked in, parked and off the street. Easy peasy! All because someone who had not been educated to be a drone with no ability to solve problems, only pass the buck, took the time to actually listen, analyze and solve my problem. But, Todds and Buffys…we were out over $250 because of your nonsense and, I’m going to play dirty pool because that’s part of the old “Don’t get mad…get even” ethic from the old days. I’m going to sick my wife on you and God, help you!

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