The kid and I arrived in the nation's capital as scheduled Wednesday night. It was fairly late by the time we boarded a shuttle and arrived at the rental car facility (although I should note that we were there at the time I had listed on the reservation). Our reservation was with Thrifty. I guess Dollar and Thrifty are the same company, because one lone employee was covering both rental counters. There was one guy ahead of me, so I waited in line while A ran laps around our luggage cart.
Off to my left, I noticed a man all in black. He had also been on the shuttle bus with us. He was speaking loudly on his cell phone. "Yeah, is this Thrifty? I'm at your rental counter and the man won't rent me a car. I gave him my reservation and he will not rent to me. So now I'm in DC with no car." He then repeated the same thing a few more times, pacing as he talked. I don't know what transpired before I got there, but I started to get a bit nervous that maybe Thrifty was out of cars or something.
Finally, it was my turn at the rental counter. I handed over my driver's license and credit card, and the Thrifty man asked me the usual litany of questions about insurance and gasoline. He looked up at me and said, "The man over there? He threw his driver's license at me and that's why he's not getting a car." I responded with a low, "Ohhhh." The Thrifty employee, a foreign-born man of color, seemed pretty pleasant to me, so I couldn't help but wish I had seen the exchange myself. He raised his arm and demonstrated how the man in black had tossed his driver's license across the desk. "No car for him," he said again. Suddenly, I realized I had the Soup Nazi of rental cars on my hands.
It was 11 p.m. and I had a nearly-delirious child on my hands. I needed a car and didn't want to leave anything to chance. I decided to pour it on pretty thick. Seriously, I made Pollyanna look like a boorish ass. "Wow, you didn't deserve that," I said. "Is this place open all night? Do you have to work really late?" I frowned a bit to show just how sympathetic I was.
"We are, but I'm leaving in two hours."
"Well, that's good. It must be hard to have to work so late," I responded.
A few minutes later, I had the keys to a wee Nissan in my hands. The man in black by then had approached Budget's counter. My guess is that he handed over his driver's license with all due respect.