Letter I had to write to effect much-needed social change

Hello friends, I got back safely from Wilmington, and I even got to fly first class! Only the movie they played was Herbie: Reloaded, so, you know, that kind of took some of the fun out it. The guy next to me thought the movie was great. But he was drunk on all the free airplane booze.

It was when I tried to get from the airport to my house that I had a rather unbelievable experience, which irritated me enough to cause me to Write A Letter.


Dear [Anonymous Shuttle Service]

I have used [Anonymous Shuttle Service] many times in the past few years, both during my time as a college student, and now in my job for BYU, which requires frequent travel. During these trips, I have always had great experiences with your staff and drivers, and I know that many of my colleagues use your service as well. I'm writing because last night I had an experience that did not reflect well upon your company, and I thought you should know about it so that you can remedy the problem.

I took an 11:30pm shuttle from the SLC airport last night (September 21st). I didn't catch the driver's name, but I hope this information helps you identify him. He appeared to be in his 50s, and had silver/blond hair. On the shuttle was another young man named John. He and I were both traveling to Provo. There were also 4 other men who had missed a connecting flight on Delta and needed to find a local hotel for night. We drove to Super 8 first, but it was closed, so they ended up at a different hotel.

My concern is this: The driver spent a good part of the trip expressing to us his dissatisfaction with the routes he was being given. He repeatedly complained in particular about his supervisor sending him to Provo. He was upset because he said that his boss called him back to the office with the promise of a downtown run and instead sent him to Provo again. This driver told us many times that he makes his money from tips, and that driving people to Provo wasn't really worth his time if he could be making more tips by making shorter trips to downtown SLC with more passengers in the van than just one or two.

Needless to say, I thought this line of discussion was inappropriate, so I didn't respond. His remarks, though not hostile towards me and the other passenger, made me uncomfortable. I wasn't about to apologize for living in Provo, or for hiring the services of a shuttle to get me home. I feel that if this gentleman has concerns or complaints about his job, he should share them with his supervisors, rather than with the customers.

We reached Provo and dropped John off at his home. John had been very gracious about our driver's complaints, and showed sympathy for his frustration. After John left the shuttle, the driver stopped the van and turned the interior light on to see what kind of tip John left when he prepaid at the airport. The driver then remarked that even though John's company seems to pay him well for traveling, that sure didn't show up in the tip he left. He then held up the paper to show me the amount of the tip, saying that if he drives someone all the way to Provo then he should get a better tip than that. This was about a young man who had no luggage and who had been very courteous during the entire drive. He'd left the same tip that I left when I prepaid, so I told the driver that he probably wouldn't be happy with mine, either.

I'm sure you would not wish your drivers to speak in such a way to your customers. Maybe this driver was having a bad night, but I didn't appreciate listening to the rant of someone angling for a larger (and completely undeserved) gratuity. I bring this to your attention so that you can prevent this from happening to other customers in the future. Thanks again for the great service you and your other drivers have provided.

Best Wishes,

[Nemesis who does not deserve to be held hostage to the ramblings of cranky hicks when all she wants to do is get freaking home and go to bed, so you'd better fix this.]

The Operations Manager emailed me right back and was properly appalled and apologetic and promised to deal with the situation quickly, which I appreciated very much. I thought about mentioning that the very large businessman next to me smelt strongly of body odor, but I figured that was out of the Operations Manager's control. Plus, I'd been traveling all night too, and probably was not a little ray of freshness myself.

And no, I don't feel bad about turning this guy in, because he already told me that he was thisclose to quitting. Now he'll just get fired instead.


Savvymom said... [reply]

Amen sister!

edgy killer bunny said... [reply]

Three cheers, five kudos, and a humanitarian award for you.

Disgruntled Driver should be grateful he had you as a passenger and not me. I think I would have found a way to take back the prepaid tip. If you work in a service industry where you have to depend on tips for part of your sustenance, then you had best treat said tippers quite well. And complaining about the lack of tips is not really the best way to do that.

You're my hero.

CBH said... [reply]

Yeah, at the palce i worked. Complaining about tip was one of the 7 things that would get you fired right off. THat guy was a bit dim, I'd say.

Coop said... [reply]

I think the driver forgot the most important thing about working a tip-based job in Utah: you're in Utah. People don't tip here even if you do deserve it. Maybe after getting fired he'll be forced to move, solving all problems.

Stupidramblings said... [reply]

Oh. My. Gosh, Becky.

I WOULD have expected you to display a bit of "salty" attitude to this driver man (and I use the term loosely,) but by your description, I have a scary feeling that you shouldn't have been the last one left in his van. He was probably close to felony assault anyway. I'm glad you didn't give him a nemesis-size, verbal beatdown.

I am VERY happy you have decided to go out with a bang. I mean, using the same service over and over and THEN getting one of the drivers fired. Is the stress of leaving getting to you? Are you edgy over it? Probably not; he really; really deserved it.

Chris said... [reply]

I love the fact that he stopped, and checked the tip.

He might as well stuck a billboard up that he would do the same to you.

Then he could stick the billboard next to all the other self promotion that's going on along the interstate...

daltongirl said... [reply]

You go, girl! I worship you. In the same way I worship all the Egyptian gods, that is. You deserve the Noble Peecee Prize, and if it was in my power to award it, it would be yours.

Spitfire said... [reply]

You are truly my hero. I am usually able to hold my own in such circumstances, and oft times find just the right things to say in order to meet my immediate needs. (IOW, to get my way.) However, last night was a little off. There are so many things I wish I would have said or done differently!

I went to pick up a friend, "Hinkle," and by the time I got back to my car I'd been booted! I didn't even know I couldn't park there! I was so mad because the Mean Man (MM) pulled up to me in his car (while I was yelling slanderous statements) and just stared at me, as if he was waiting for me to say something else. Although I could have turned him in for assault/stalking charges, seeing as he preferred idling in his car, speechlessly staring at me as I wondered who this freekshow was, I didn't. (Maybe he was just scared of me. . .very possible.) Anyway, here go's:

Spitfire: so, are you the one who did this?

MM: yeah. . .

SF: ok . . .

MM: (silently idles in car with window down)

SF: so, are you going to get out of your car and do anything about it?

MM: um, well, do you live here?


MM: oh. well, you can't park here.

SF: Yeah, I get that NOW! So, are you gonna take this stuff off, or what?!

MM: (sheepish tone) well, it'll cost some money.

SF: how much?

MM: $50.00. (still idling in car)

SF: Ok, (count to 10 and breathe)

MM: Do you have cash?

SF: What? No! How many kids my age do you know that have $50.00 in cash? Can't I pay by check?

MM: Um, well, we don't accept checks.

SF: Why not?

MM: Because people always cancel them.

SF: (Raised eyebrows, look of insult, firey eyes, hands on hips)
Well, that is all I have.

MM: Do you have a debit card?

SF: Excuse me?

MM: Well, there is an ATM at the bank over there. . .

SF: Are you kidding me??? This is ridiculous. I feel like I am being mugged.

MM: (silence, still idling in car.)

MM: Well, I guess I'll go ahead and park while you go to the bank.

SF: (I want to slice your face off with my debit card!!! AND I think you should have to pay the fee I will be charged at the ATM since it is not my bank...jerk. *#$%)

SF: (Walks to bank. Must withdraw in increments of $20. Retrieves money. Walks back. Almost gets hit by car. Ready to fight.)

MM: (parked his car, is standing idly by mine)

SF: So, what are we waiting for? Get to it, do your thing.

MM: (walks back to own car to retrieve keys)

SF: (I slowly follow MM to his car with hand on hip, one raised eyebrow and scary scary eyes.)

MM: So, I need to be paid first.

SF: How long has my car been booted for, anyway? Cuz you sure did show up fast.

MM: Um, about 5 minutes.

SF: And I was at the bank for 4 of those minutes?

MM: I guess.

SF: Wow. HMM.

SF: Well, I am going to need some change. This is all I have. ($60.00)

MM: (takes money and goes to the GAS STATION to get change! Still has not unlocked my car.)

SF: (How stupid is this?
He doesn't even have change? I should have only given him $40.00 on account of his collective stupidity through out the whole process. And it would have saved him a trip.)

SF: (waiting, waiting, waiting.)

MM: (silence, unlocks car, places $10.00 in my hand, walks off.)

SF: So that's it?

MM: um, did you want a receipt?

SF: Sure. Thanks. (No, I want my freeking money back!)

SF: Well, it's a good thing you caught me. This parking lot sure was filling up fast and it would have been completely inconsiderate of me to take someone else's spot.

SF and MM: (simultaneously observe NEAR EMPTY parking lot for a moment)

--After this we both just went to our own cars and drove away without even saying goodbye or anything. It was a short lived relationship. I was so upset!! I just wanted to slash his tires and shatter his windshield sooooo badly! It was a terrible feeling, and I should not have allowed it to brew within me so strongly.
But I could not get over the fact that even though he seemed to feel like total crap (as I was hoping) he STILL wouldn't give me a break, and I had only been there for a couple minutes. AND he made me walk to the bank!! What an idiot. I feel bad even as I say these things, but it really helps me vent. But I know I made him feel like complete crap, and I was totally going for that at the time. It's all just a weird mix of feelings. comments?

CoolMom said... [reply]

I can't imagine what Cooldad would have said to the guy, but I can guarantee it would have been void of a tip altogether. He probably would've told the guy he owed us money for having to sit and listen to his crap for an hour.

On the other hand, he probably would've taken he time to try and recruit this guy to come to AVTEC (Alaska Vocational Techical Center)because there are great opportunities in vocational education and he should really come to Seward (Alaska) and go to school for a week and get a job making $60,000 a year and by the way the fishing is great and we get the permanent fund and on and on.

Tell me I'm not lying!

CoolMom said... [reply]

Spitfire, I am so sorry this happened to you. But as Nenesis can attest, this happened to me once in her college apt. parking lot because coughsomeonecough didn't inform me where the legal areas were. But I only had to pay $40. It still hurt, though. In time, you will get over it and this will merrely be a forgotten memory. But for now it's okay to be upset. But don't let it ruin your day.

CoolMom said... [reply]

I know I said "merely"!

Miss Hass said... [reply]

My blood pressure is skyrocketing as I read Nemesis' post and Spitfire and Coolmom's comments. I HATE booting. I got booted once at the Taco Bell on Bulldog Blvd. I might have sworn at the booter. Possibly.

kit said... [reply]

Nice...so glad you wrote the letter! Making the world a better place.

Stupidramblings said... [reply]

Holy COW spitfire!

That was indeed a rant. You should have made that into its own blog entry. In fact, you can still just copy it and paste it onto your blog and make it an entry. I think it counts as an ENTIRE entry and not just a post.

I never got the boot in my college days, just a complete tow. I got to my car at 1:30 and it was just GONE. Also the only place on the whole lot that was posted was in the front entrance where all the parking lots stem off. I had entered from a back entrance and thus missed the posted sign altogether. AND having missed the sign altogether I had nowhere to turn to ask HOW to get my car back.

So I sheepishly went back to my almost-girlfriend's apartment and asked her if she knew what could have happened to my car. She also drove me to the impound lot where my car was parked which was closed by that point.

I knew about a door in one of the buildings at the college I was attending that was always unlocked, so I had her drop me off there. I found a dark corner in the deep basement of said building and went to sleep.

I woke up at 5:45 am to a security guard who was going to get me for tresspassing. I agreed to leave (I had class at 7:00 am in the same building) and I went outside IN JANUARY and wandered around campus until 6:30 when the building opened. I almost froze my le-tush off.

Notwithstanding my horrible sleepless night on a cement floor using songbooks for a pillow AND paying $50 to get my car back AND having to walk around for 45 minutes in the dark in January WITHOUT A COAT, I harbor no ill will to those who caused my torment.

I am a giver.

Desmama said... [reply]


I feel this vicarious sense of vindication. Like maybe the world isn't so bad after all if people like you are willing to speak up in dignified, articulate, strong ways. What a piece of work that guy was.

CoolMom said... [reply]

Today my boss and I were talking about our kids blogging and he asked for all of your blog addresses. I'm not sure I'm comfortable giving out that info so I told him I'd let him know about that. I'd hate to risk diminishing the positive impression that I have managed to establish here in the work place. We've already shared a few choice "kids stories", his two favorites were the one about Spitfire mooning cars during jr. high and the way you guys like to "scratch your head w/ a favorite finger" during christmas morning video-taping. What do you think? Should we just keep all this "in the family"?

Th. said... [reply]


I never realized they wanted tips.


Savvymom said... [reply]

Spitfire you should go to the complex or something and complain. Not that it would do any good, but you still should. Just to get it off your chest a few more times.

Stephen said... [reply]

The entire boot/tow/etc. mess is sure a nasty one.

Does it exist anywhere but Provo?

What about getting everyone and their siblings/spouses/etc. to register to vote in Provo and electing people to basically filibuster until it goes away?

chosha said... [reply]

I'm not looking forward to the whole tip thing when I visit the US. I just know I'm going to forget sometime and have all kinds of service staff pissed off at me. In Australia tipping is rare and only for exceptional service. Then again, our minimum wage also kicks your minimum wage's ass, and waiters earn a decent wage, so that might be part of it.

Unmanagable said... [reply]

Nemisis is my sister and she feakin rocks!! As we like to say here in the Army: KILL!!

I didnt know Spitfire was a mooner! When did all that happen? Sure Coolmom, give your boss my address.
AND, my car got towed out of my own pakingspace last year in the middle of the night bc the managment wanted to sweep the place. They said they had posted flyers the night before, but they didnt even do so much as knock or call or even honk as they were ripping me off. It cost over $250 to get it back. Welcome to Alaska. This was a car that I paid only 300 for in the first place, AND I was so poor at the time that when I got locked out of the car earlier, I smashed the back window out with a rock and fixed it later with plasticwrap and duct tape instead of calling a locksmith.
I never wrote any angry letters or assaulted anyone, or even burned down any building. (sigh)
Burning down a building would have been the most true to form, just ask coolmom about it.

CBH said... [reply]

And consdiering what a dump that place was, I think i would have helped you torch the place instead of giving you my usual "dont do stupid things" motto.

Gregory Hines said... [reply]

Anyone know where I can buy a boot? (maybe eBay...)
I'd like to become a free-lance booter--that baby would pay for itself.
I got booted 3 times in 2 months, 2 years ago. One time was when I parked illegally for about 60 seconds (seriously, I watched the booter put the boot on my car as I ran back from the front door of a classmate.) Luckily you can haggle with them to get the cost down to maybe 1/2 the regular fine. I never paid the full amount, and it's not because I'm an amazing negotiater. I was just extremely "bend-over" polite, and then requested a smaller fine.

Yeah, I really need to buy one of those boots. If I'm really good, people might tip me. ;)

Panini said... [reply]

No Way! That's so crazy! Nice job with your letter!

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