SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 103: The Golden Rule

I’m sitting at enterprise rent a car. Drew is the man at the counter who moments ago greeted me. Lately this place has been a regular destination, having rented a variety of vehicles for my assignment shoots over the past several months. And every time I come in, I pitch for 365 friends.

So it would be an understatement to say, most of the rental agents don’t just know me, they see me coming. And even though they are a little interested to contribute, are usually too busy with customers to be interviewed.

No difference this evening, the dealership is packed with holiday madness, its crazy times at Enterprise.

The bulk of the customers are patient, with a few rearing up their attitudes in a futile attempt to be noticed. I have titled them, the frowners.

A bad behavior that cracks me up. Like sporting a frown will magically make the line disappear, or perhaps educe a cosmic time warp that will translate them to an hour before the costumer that rightly precedes them. My though, “Mellow out, there is no rush, stand patient and you will get your car.”

The scene turns surreal when a frantic Enterprise test pilot, blasts into the office, and running behind the counter, loudly exclaims, “We just got hit from behind, all we did was slow for a pedestrian and wham! We got hit from behind.”

Drew, my Enterprise friend asks, “Is anyone with the car?” In my opinion, an obvious and expected question. “Yes! My husband, what do you think!” Some people need to take a chill pill. Drew is doing his best to be helpful. He smiles it off.

She then shrills, exasperated, “what do I do?” With the calm on a decorated infantryman under siege, he suggests, “Get all their information, and if they are not willing to give it to you, call the police.”

“Do you have some paper and pencil?” she squills, Drew is unshaken, and even though he is helping multiple customers, he looses no stride in being of service to her and all.

The last glancing blow to his armor of professionalism. Remember the lady wanting the time warp to the front of the line; she speaks up, “Why don’t you tell her what information to get! Insurance! Phone Number! License Plate!”

Now I’m a little riled up and am tempted to share my point of view with Mrs. Helpful. I’m telling you, Christmas spirit really misses some people.

But I’m going to check myself here. 365 is teaching me tolerance, patience and acceptance of my fellow man. And surely, Drew is a master of customer service and self-control.

I lean on his example and holster my verbal assault, and yes, I do feel better for doing so. “Drew thanks for the coaching.”

There is a reason I like this Enterprise location, it’s filled with the most courteous staff I have ever encountered, and I’ve traveled a lot.

I’m sitting here by my choice, waiting to interview Drew, who has cordially volunteered to share a thought or two for you guys.

The place is still buzzing, one customer asks, “can I have a ride home.” Another is questioning insurance coverage; “Can you give me a better price?” is inquired by another.

Me? I’m still chill, hanging in the lobby and writing this entry. No worries, no rush, really having quite an enjoyable people watching time.

One detail to note: Drew is not the only one working the counter tonight.

Julia, another Enterprise superstar, leans over the counter, “Can I get your car for you?” She is not pressing me at all and I fully understand her intent, “Quality Service.” like I said, “The best rental establishment in the city.”

I got here at [5:30]sh, [6:15] now and the room is almost empty, all rented cars have embarked and the last of the, “I need a ride home,” costumers are being charioted to their lives by Julia. The departing is like a high school road trip of friends. One customer jokes, “I’ve got shotgun! and off they go.

Good thing Mrs. Helpful has already set sail. “Opps, forgive me for the jab, I’m only human.”

Drew is finally clear of his crowd, has given me my paperwork and I’m stepping to the parking area to dent walk my Durango, got it for the price of a mini van. I said, “I’m not perfect, got to go for the deal of the day.”

Dent inspection approved, all clear and with the last customer leaving for the road, Drew, Julia and I find time for photos and questions.

Julia goes first, and in her own writing shares this:
“My advice to people or words of wisdom to people is to understand that everything happens for a reason. My dream when I was sixteen was to move to NYC and go to college there. I didn’t have the opportunity, but thank God (or whoever/whatever) because I ended up meeting my best friend, Holly. If I had gone anywhere else I never would have met my soul mate. In the next 5, 10, 15 years I hope that people can start to look outside themselves and start to really embrace the idea of community. I hope I’m still best friends with Holly, happily married, with children – laughing and enjoying life.”

As Julia is writing, Drew is joking with her and the manager working in the background, and I realize why the moral is so high at this Enterprise location. Sure, customer first, but with all but one customer departed, I have the opportunity to observe the rapport of the store team, and it is inspiring.

These guys really like each other, their job and working with people. It shows, for one thing, in the comfort they share in posing for the pictures, both a ton of fun to photograph. But their comradery goes deeper than that. They truly care about the community.

Julia talks of community and of enjoying life. Drew in his own way mirrors her attitudes on life.

“What I’ve learned is life is not all about me! me! me! We all need to realize that there are other people out there; we need to be patient with each other, many in the same position as ourselves, or having greater difficulties. Good people who are just trying to make ends meet financially and in taking care of their families.”

Drew sums it up when he tells me, “I just try to live by the golden rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

I question him on this perspective, “So if someone treats you bad, does that give you permission to treat the world poorly?”

“Absolutely not,” he says, “You treat others the way you would like to be treated.”

That said, Drew, with the full support of Julia, leaves us this:
“The future, I’d like to see a day where people are simply getting along, not judging each other by race, age, ethnicity, religion, wealth or political view. Just accepting each other for who they are and being able to to either agree or disagree with kindness.”

This premise has proven to me this evening as I have broken bread in seeing how both Drew and Julia have dealt with a room full of personalities.

One last observance, remember the frightened and impatient accident victim at the beginning of this story. Well, she and her husband have been present as the last customers of the day all the while Drew, Julia and I have been talking. Sort of a strange timing, having completed their dealing with the manager and closing their business as I close the interview with my new friends.

In a vicarious way their concluding words of transaction endorse the positive perspective all at this establishment obviously embrace. Words that one would not normally expect to hear in a place of business… “God Bless You.”

Drew, Julia and my manager friend, thank you for getting me in the right frame of mind for tomorrows Arizona bound drive, tolerant, patient and calm.

Happy holidays my friends.

PS: Julia, just kidding about the scratch on my car.