Monday, February 23, 2004

BETTER BE GOOD TO ME: You all know the story if you've seen What's Love Got To Do With It, and it has the benefit of being true.

Tina Turner, on tour with then-husband Ike in 1976, battered and bloodied, finally flees his hotel for the nearby Ramada. She says to the desk clerk, "My name is Tina Turner, and my husband and I have had an argument. I have 32 cents in my pocket. If you give me a room I promise you I will pay you back as soon as I can."

They give her the nicest suite in the hotel. To this day, Miss Turner will always stay in a Ramada, such is her loyalty to the company which helped her at a time of need.

I think we all have Ramadas in our life. A few years ago when in San Francisco for a friend's wedding, Jen and I got screwed by a rental car company. Having made our reservations online, we didn't realize that this lowest-price competitor was based in a motel about twenty minutes away from the airport (after waiting a half hour for them to pick us up), and to say that we were livid, forty-five minutes later, when they still couldn't find our reservation or an available car . . .well, that would be an understatement.

So we demanded that they take us back to the rental car central for the airport, where Avis was happy to help us -- quickly and, surprisingly, even more cheaply than our original reservation. Since then, Jen and I have been loyal Avis customers whenever possible.

The reasons for this loyalty were demonstrated again back in December when we travelled to Florida. Because we were travelling with Miss Lucy and some of Jen's family, we needed a minivan. Only Budget had one for the week, so we reserved it. Well, as it turns out, our "reservation" was meaningless -- they didn't actually have any minivans available when we got there, and didn't know when any would be coming in.

(After hours of waiting in line and waiting for frequently-disappearing supervisors, they did make it right to us, giving us two compact SUVs for the price of one, and cheaper than the minivan. But still. And the mofos never returned to us the CDs I left in the SUV, even though I called them within hours of our dropping it off to let them know we had left them there.)

So Avis is my Ramada -- even when its rates are more expensive, I will show it undue, perhaps even excessive loyalty, for its service on my behalf in a time of crisis.

What's your Ramada?

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